Scott Thomas Outlar: Thank you for joining me here at 17Numa, David. You’re one of the most dedicated young writers I’ve met in recent years. It will be a pleasure to learn more about your work and motivations. Please begin by talking a bit about the area in Nigeria where you live and what you are studying in school.
David Antia: Thank you so much, Scott Thomas Outlar. I am very excited to be with you at blogtalkradio.com and also to feature at 17Numa.com. When the call for this interview reached me in the middle of the year, I had talked to the Ray of Thought Team about it and they are all excited that this is coming from you. We have read several of your writings and publications at Ray of Thought and other platforms and we are convinced that your phenomenal thought can only come from an eccentric personality like you, whose eclectic and undiscriminating appetite for fact has made him a god among men.
I am from Akwa Ibom State and I study Physics at the University of Uyo.
Akwa Ibom is one of the 36 states in Nigeria with over 500,00 inhabitants. I think some small countries are not as populated as Akwa Ibom State. Here in Akwa Ibom State we have an airport popularly called ‘Ibom air.’ It is one of the biggest airports in Africa. We also have two seaports in the Atlantic ocean with the present governor of the state, constructing a world class seaport to be known as ‘Ibaka Seaport.’
As a State we are blessed with natural resources and known to be the oil producing state in the nation.
Aside from that we are also known to house the popular ‘Ibom Stadium’ which is a 30,000 seat ultramodern sports complex with world class facilities. Akwa Ibom, like others states in the country, has many learning institutions which include Akwa-Ibom State University, Akwa Ibom State Polytechnic, College of education, etc.
There is so much to mention about where I come from, our culture, language, politics, etc.
But I have mentioned the least so we can talk other things.
STO: I appreciate the humbling words, David. Congratulations on the one year anniversary of your cultural and literature venue, Ray of Thought. Please speak about the origins of your site and what the initial idea behind launching it was.
DA: Ray of Thought began this day, 14 December 2018. The advent of Ray of Thought was not without the need to advocate for innovative thinking as the cure to our manifold and concatenated problems. I had thought that for every problem, be it personal or cooperative which has proven too strong to be swallowed by a solution, that for such a problem, there is a reason of straight thinking that helped in its survival. I realized that we must raise our thought beyond the normal plane and see it through the platitude of convention, scientific and philosophical kibitz, and establish it in a second dimension which is an area just outside the box. Thinking in and outside the box is the way forward for solving our problem, thus Ray of Thought.
Now Ray of Thought has become a forum, an association of scholars and young intellectuals who have come together with the vision of building human capacity and the youths by promoting creative thinking and innovative living. We set to achieve our goals through promoting scholarship and research, especially in the fields of literature, science, education, language, and humanity.
STO: What has been your most rewarding experience and/or achievement since starting the Ray of Thought group? What project are you most excited about currently?
DA: As a group we have achieved a lot in a short time. We have organized an educational conference with the theme ‘Education, the youths and the challenges of the 21st century; which way forward.’ And the subtheme ‘Innovative thinking for new problems; a way forward for solving 21st century challenges.’ The conference had more than 200 participants which included scholars, a community ruler, youths from within and outside the state, and students of the university of Uyo.
We have also interviewed very astute and outstanding personalities in the humanitarian circle. One is Anja Ringgren Loven, a Danish woman who was nominated in a group, along with the Dalai Lama and Barack Obama, for the most inspiring person in 2016. In the same connection, we have also interviewed Sandy Walker, an Australian woman who left her country to a land she had only read about or seen on TV, to actually work and sponsor some children through the ‘Blessed Children’s Hope Foundation’ in Kenya.
Some months ago we interviewed the founder of Impact Nutrition Africa, Folakemi Joloso, a passionate nutritionist who through HELP fellowship produced baby cereals that are affordable for low to middle income earners. Her organization is interested in addressing public health nutrition [malnutrition, human nutrition lab analysis and dietetics].
We publish these interviews on our website to help promote their work and also raise the consciousness of people to the challenges we face in the 21st century.
We are currently working on a Book Project which aims to help raise an army of Thinkers who use the art of writing effectively. The book project is to encourage every member of the forum to become a published Author. We now have three members who have their books ready and they will be published in our coming book conference in January.
STO: Excellent news. No doubt the new year ahead will be an exciting time for Ray of Thought. Who are the other members who help edit and publish the venue?
DA: We have a team of Editors which includes: David Francis, Bassey Bassey, Shedrach Esin, Loveday Mcjolly, Adekunle Ppen, Daphne Chiamaka, Ruth, Edet Edu, Daye David, Utibe Umoh, Etieno Etuk, and Emmanuel Usoro.
STO: When do you recall your interest in art beginning to take shape?
DA: Well, it is hard to answer the question of when I started developing love for art because I have always appreciated art. But I would love to recall that I got more interested in the art of writing after I read published works of bodacious authors like Stephen Hawkins, Friedrich Nietzsche, Chinua Achebe, etc. I was filled with awe by the manner in which they go about mirroring their mind on paper. Through them, I began to appreciate more the beauty of written expressions. I began to write when I realized I could also engage in the art to enhance my communication
STO: What is your general writing process? Are there any specific routines you adhere to?
DA: I believe that every writer has a writing process and I am going to talk about mine with you. Whenever I want to breathe out my creativity, I first coordinate my thoughts and also engage in conversations with like minds who have ideas on my subject of interest. What I do is, I think and then outline my ideas in a paper. Thereafter, I conduct more research and read other people’s views on what I want to talk about. I like to refer to this stage of my writing engagement as the ‘pre-writing’ process. I feel it is the first stage everyone must engage in. Though generating ideas is continuous throughout the time of writing a piece, this stage is unique because it is the time I highlight my first thoughts and impressions on the subject of my discussion. It is the time I brainstorm before writing.
After this, I proceed to put my ideas onto paper by writing the first sentence and then the second and further into a paragraph. I write down my thoughts as they come in their raw form, without considering grammatical errors. In fact, at this stage I am writing to myself and not my readers. But one would wonder what difference there is between the stage I just talked about and the ‘pre-writing process’ I mentioned earlier. It is important to note that however thoughtful one is, no matter how much thinking he has done before writing, the mere process of translating information in the brain into a visual presentation, be it a paper or a computer, influences your thought pattern. The very word you use to express yourself invokes additional implications. Everyone who has engaged in this grand art of writing must have experienced what I mention. I would love to know if you, too, experience it, Scott.
After this stage of connecting my ideas coherently from one sentence to another and from paragraph to paragraph, I then consider to make my work more focused and reader-centered. I also evaluate my supporting ideas to see if they are convincing enough. How do I achieve that?
I ask myself what terms need to be defined and I define them. I express my ideas from lower order concerns to higher order concerns. This is my general writing process.
STO: Who have been the main mentors and influencers in your life and work?
DA: A lot of people have influenced my life and I can’t mention all of them. My parents have been a very great source of influence. My father, Bassey Antia, is adept at helping his children discover themselves. He introduced me to spirit-lifting books at an early age. I have enjoyed the mentorship of David Emmanuel Umem, the founder of David Umem Foundation, a foundation with the vision of promoting sustainable youth development, empowerment, and resilience. His common philosophy is that developing the human mind equals developing the nation. This philosophy has affected me immensely, and I would love to mention that it is on this sentiment that Ray of Thought is founded.
I have also been influenced by Anja Ringgren Loven, a Danish social aid worker whose sense of humanity and compassion led to her nomination as the world’s most inspiring person in 2016. If you check the Ray of Thought website (www.rayofthought.com) you will see a published interview my team had with her.
She is the co-founder of African Children Aid Education and Develop Foundation ’ACAEDF.’
Let me have the privilege of mentioning Nsidibe Orok, Don Udowan, Ekemini Jacob, and Robert Allan Arno. Having daily conversations with these individuals has enabled me to have a good panoramic view of the universe.
My life has also been touched in a great way by His Royal Highness, Chief Francis Ekpeyong. Through him I learnt that no matter where one comes from, no matter one’s family background, there is always room for success for everyone who will dare to succeed.
My Staff adviser at the University of Uyo, department of Physics, Associate Professor Aniesua Essiett is my mentor and role model. He is a nuclear consultant and a radiation physicist which is exactly what I want to be in the future as a physicist.
STO: Thank you again for appearing here at 17Numa and allowing us a glimpse into your life, David. I look forward to your upcoming interview on Songs of Selah as well. If there are any final thoughts you would like to share, the floor belongs to you.
DA: I have read and reviewed a book written by Aniekeme Fimbarr. The title is ‘Dare it Do it.’
This is what I wrote about the book.
Every good book is a product of a genuine educator who is impelled by the need to develop his target audience mentally, morally, and aesthetically. The manner in which such an author impresses or transmits his thoughts and instructs his audience, in addition to what quality of information he passes, is to be a determinant for how his book should be judged.
In this connection, the result of such work should be measured by how much it has been able to educe and inspire the target audience.
In this 175 page book, the author has in an equal manner attempted to inspire and induce hope in the minds of every reader who faces daunting problems and disheartening experiences at every wake of time.
I think every visitor to this wealth of knowledge (encapsulated in 175 pages) should ask himself what kind of education will be useful for him. He should keep this question of ‘intent’ revolving in his mind as he follows the author in the white-knuckle ride.
Mentioning what manner of knowledge is contained in this book is the task of this review and is beneficial in answering likely questions revolving in the minds of the would-be readers who dare to read this book.
The book aims to give hope to every reader and such is the manner of education that the author intends for the reader.
Mary Warnock had made a potent expression in this wise when she said, “I think that of all the attributes that I would like to see in my children, or in my pupils, the attribute of hope would come high, even top the list. To lose hope is to lose the capacity to want or desire anything. To lose, in fact, the wish to live. Hope is akin to energy, to curiosity, to the belief that things are worth doing. And education which leaves the child without hope is an education that has failed.”
If education is to train man on how to live and be alive, then the type that gives man the sense of hope to live and make a living should be regarded highly. And such man who gives hope through education should be seen as the greatest teacher. It will be wise to say that Aniekeme Finbarr is one of the greatest teachers of our time, because he has through this book taught about life and also inspired hope in everyone who dares to live.
In chapter one, he explains in a conversational manner how he dropped out of school and the consequences that greeted him. He utilizes his experience to teach about how most humans react when they see their fellows in a drowning situation
For everyone who has tried and failed, the author instructs in this chapter that though such bad situations are unmeritorious of a derisive laughter, that even our friends and those we expect to understand us and comfort us are mostly the ones who laugh at us and throw stones at us. Stones painted in ‘risibles’ and polished with comics and every color that ludicrous thought can import.
According to the author, “The true test of friendship is in your dry season, everyone dances in your umbrella when it rains around you.” (Pg. 19)
The pedantic author also suggests a radical approach that he feels is best in handling our difficult situations and difficult people who make themselves fuels to further worsen the fires that try us.
“No matter how things are designed to be beautiful in your life, life will constantly set traps for you. The choice is yours to move forward or remain in lament.” His advice is that the best approach is to keep moving.
He reminds us sic passim of the need to tell ourselves the truth while taking on the challenges of life.
He taught an extraordinary lesson in chapter two where he surprised us with a precise approach everyone can take when in need of help from other people. He advised that instead of going to our expected helpers with a ‘SHOULD’ mindset (e.g. She should help me), we should rather go with the ‘NEED’ mindset ( e.g I need your help in this), stating specifically what manner of help we need from our prospective helpers.
In the other chapters he has revealed that nothing of worth emerges without undergoing pressure, suppression, and continence. He noted however, that even the very food we eat must go through fire before it is fit for consumption. Likewise gold and other materials we cherish.
In this respect, he calls on the reader to ready himself through discipline and self-control.
The part I would wish the author to look at critically (as I assume conflict in ‘intent’ and ‘expression’) is where he confessed that, “Politician-leaders especially do not have our best interest at heart, as they have not only personal desires but practical goals to pursue.’
I insist to impress that such confession may be mere exaggeration on his part, as everyone knows that he himself who is a politician-leader has the best interest of his people at heart. We also have the likes of Lee Kuan Yew, a politician-leader who transformed Singapore from third world to first world! He wouldn’t have achieved that if he didn’t make the people’s interest a personal interest, or if he apotheosized his interest above that of his country.
In the same manner, the author has also laid on Biblical teachings so much that an unbeliever will find this book uninteresting even before reading through.
To create a perfect balance, he has also drawn inference from other books of faith
The bodacious decor of this book and its equal import lie in the intent to help the reader understand and find what he already has and which is all he needs- HOPE.
In conclusion, I recommend this book to every unsuccessful and successful individual who wishes to improve on self or help others improve on theirs!