Dumebi: It’s a pleasure to be here. Thank you for having me.
Mobolaji: Please, briefly tell us about yourself and what you represent.
Dumebi: I am a teacher, a librarian and an author known for my social activism, often mirrored through my writings of oppression, women’s rights and empowerment. Telling women’s stories, giving their plight and their successes whenever I can is what motivates me everyday to do the work I do. I am an editor of Women of Rubies and also the convener of Just Us Girls Summit (JUGS), an annual workshop providing mentor programs for pre-teen and teenage girls.
I am also the Creative Director for Glows and Sparkles, a makeup artistry outfit empowering women. I blog on www.dumebie.com
I firmly believe that God has placed us all on this earth for a purpose – a purpose to be happy and to find joy in life and no one should steal that away from you. I therefore constantly remind myself to stay true to myself and if and when I am not comfortable within a particular situation then I act upon it and change it so that I am comfortable . A wise man once said, “We only have this one life to live and therefore we should live it to the fullest” and that is how I live my life.
Mobolaji: Nice! We all definitely need to be more deliberate about how we live. At a time, I wasn’t satisfied with some outcomes in my life due to laziness. I decided to work on it and I have seen results. Thank you for sharing that.
Let’s go right to it. You have a book, The Spider’s Web and you’re soon to release another one. Please tell us the inspiration behind your first book.
Dumebi: The idea to write The Spider’s Web came after I attended a Zonta Conference on the 19th of April, 2013. The guest speaker, who is the President, Women Arise for Change Initiative and Campaign for Democracy (CD) Joe Okei-Odumakin in her lecture, ‘Violence Against Women: A Call for Action for Immediate Eradication’ lamented the rate at which women suffer violently across the globe. With pictorial evidences, she disclosed that the total number of women getting killed annually in Nigeria due to violent acts could not be less than 2,000 from available data on documented cases of violence against women.
The Spider’s Web marshalls the power of literature to confront domestic violence, an experience that is still too often neglected or condoned, surrounded by silence and shame.We all have secrets we don’t reveal the first time we cross paths with others. This is Nnenna’s…and Ejiro’s.
The Spider’s Web is a reminder that while bad behavior can be explained, it can never be excused, and that while placing blame is rarely useful, letting go is.The story takes place in the 21st century suburban Africa (Asaba, Nigeria). The horror of domestic violence, to both children and wives, is clearly depicted in the novel. The two main recipients of the violence in the novel are Nnenna and Ejiro. Nnenna is, in the beginning, portrayed as weak and submissive. She endures abuse inflicted on her by her husband, a clergy man, in order to provide for her parents and to protect her children from his cruelty. Emeka, her husband, values Nnenna only as a sexual object and a caretaker for his home…
Please, share a little about your upcoming book too and where we can get both books.
Dumebi: ‘Wrecked’ is themed around early child marriage, terrorism and its effect (especially on the Girl-Child), female genital mutilation, domestic violence and other cultral practices against the female gender.
Synopsis: The marriage of Anaya Owhonda to Jubril Rufai is marred by her aversion to sex. During their honeymoon, Jubril discovers married life with Anaya is far from what he envisioned. However, they are determined to act out a happy marriage.
Anaya goes on a trip with Jubril to Lake Alau in Maiduguri, and falls in love with his late father’s house. She insists on making it their home and somehow manages to convince Jubril that the house would be a healing touch to their farce of a marriage. Jubril gives in and Anaya begins her move to Maiduguri with her maid, Eni, by her side.Anaya is visibly happy and busy. She tries to be a good wife to Jubril but still finds intercourse with him a frightening experience. Jubril tries to convince Anaya to see a doctor but she revolts against the decision. She encourages Jubril to pick a mistress.
Mustapha, Jubril’s brother, falls in love with Kukoyi, who just can’t get enough. Kuku has a dysfunction only known to her family, and with relief her parents approve of her union with Mustapha and send her on her way.
In Sheda, thirteen-years-old Hauwa is betrothed to Adamu, a man more than twice her age. In a fit of adventure, she runs off with her best friend. Things take an awful turn when she wakes up in a dilapidated house, her friend missing. She finds her way home only to discover that the body of her friend was found battered, sexually abused and very dead. This particular incident changes Hauwa’s life. Where before, life with her father had been smouldering, now it was impossible. A few months later, she is finally handed to Abdul as his wife. As a wife to a violent man, happiness eludes her. She becomes pregnant, loses her baby and comes down with a fistula condition. Her husband believes she is cursed and abandons her.
In Chibok, Laraba and her family are experiencing the reign of terror by the Jihadists. The town of Chibok is caught up in horror. Gun and machete wielding men are carrying out genocide. Hauwa and some of her schoolmates are abducted to Sambisa. She manages to escape after a gruesome experience and finds her way to safety.
Kuku looks to lovers, and eventually her husband, to provide the love that has been missing from her father. Her body is bartered for affection and attention from men who are attracted to her.
Books are available on amazon, jumia and konga. Hard copies are in stores around the country.
Mobolaji: I have already started imagining these girls. There’s a form of insensitivity that many have towards the plight of Northerners and what terrorism has done to them and their land. My heart breaks for the many girls who have to live in such a way…
Ok. Are there any lessons you’d like to share as an Author? The good, bad and ugly?
Dumebi: You just have to believe in your work and keep writing. The success is simply a by-product of any passionate hard work you do. Writers often have frail writer-egos. I have one. If you’re a writer, you probably have one.
Then, getting something published kind of feels like winning the lottery. You finally did it, and now you can ride off into the sunset with your frail writer-ego and live happily ever after. Except you can’t. You still have to write. You’re still going to have people tell you your submission isn’t for them, you’re still going to have to learn more about how to become a better, more publishable writer, and you’re still going to feel like you’re a failure who should just quit already.Keep going. Keep going until you get something else published, and then keep going and write something else, and keep doing that until you are old and gray.
That said, I’m quite happy with how the book turned out, and I hope people will find it a beautiful read. The process wasn’t too strenuous and I had fun writing! As a bonus, it was a great experience to get my knowledge onto paper (real, physical paper!) and learn about the process of writing and publishing a book.
Mobolaji: ‘Amen, Sister!’ was what I thought as I read your words o. Even when things look discouraging, write! I have days when I ask myself who sent me to ever start a blog, but this has been the greatest avenue for me to learn consistency as a writer.
Aspiring Authors should watch out for all your points. Thank you for sharing them! You blog as well. Well done! How do you find time for all of these?
Dumebi: I hear that a writer’s life is a lonely one but I am yet to see the truth in that. If I could keep myself from the many distractions that plague me, I’d be fine. Nevertheless, that’s something I need to put on my “to do list.” Meanwhile, I keep plugging along and treasure those days when I do find several hours where I can be alone, concentrate, and actually manage to get some of my own writing done. Luckily, I started on this path several years ago, without the distractions of a 24/7 husband, and I’ve learned that the key is discipline. Discipline, desire and a thick skin are what helps one achieve this goal. Oh also, a good lock on your office door and ear plugs help too!
Mobolaji: Lol. Wow. I definitely need to create notes from this interview. You’re also a teacher. I know. I know. I stalk well. The School you teach at was one I used to silently ‘beef’ as an I.S.I student. Anyway, what has been the greatest blessing of being a teacher?
Dumebi: My primary reward of being a teacher is being able to see the results of my hard work in action, every single day.
Enjoying seeing my students learn new things, smile and be happy to see me and knowing that I’m doing a job I love and parents having so much trust to leave the most important people in their lives in my care brings such joy to my heart. Teaching allows me to be both a leader and a learner. I remain hopeful that through my leadership in the classroom I can make a difference in the lives of students. So, I can say my greatest reward is seeing my former students go on to accomplish more than I ever have.
Mobolaji: Wow. You’re so inspiring. Your work with girls, how did it start? Why are you passionate about grooming girls at an early age?
Dumebi: All through my life, my parents made sacrificial efforts to give my brothers and I an education at least to the best of their ability. This move of theirs has become the bedrock on which my motivation to succeed as a woman lies. Every Girl should have this. Sadly, not every girl does. So, it’s my desire to arm girls with cognitive skills and motivation, so that they can shatter the glass ceiling that society and circumstances has placed before them.
Mobolaji: True words! God bless you. You have a program under “Just us Girls” in October. Please, tell us about that and how we can be part.
Dumebi: I convene the annual Just Us Girls Summit (JUGS) which is designed specifically for teenage girls and the women who support them. Attendees hear from inspirational key-note speakers about building confidence, setting goals, getting to college and achieving their dreams.
The summit is all about: Sharing fun ways to ignite their own leadership and brilliance in new ways, Giving them tools & resources for the projects & dreams they want to create, Offering break-out sessions on topics like Beauty/Self-Care, Fulfilling Dreams and Getting to College, Teaching them life skill sets and tips from key note speakers, Helping the girls to know that they are brilliant, Bright, beautiful and bold just as they are, Giving them access to helpful leaders and mentors, Creating a fun environment for girls to laugh and learn together and Celebrating girls through our Bright and Beautiful Awards!Glows & Sparkles trains girls in Ibadan on the art of make up as well as empower them with start up kits at the end of the capacity building. We interview every candidate (we will not waste our time training the wrong person so we work hard to select the right people to work with). The girls are trained free of charge on an art which should have cost between 100 and 150 thousand Naira. Glows & Sparkles empowers them with livelihood skills to take them out of the slums and fulfill their potential. the project is a platform to give girls access to education outside the classroom so they are not left behind. In essence, we believe that the ability of all girls to fulfill their potential will contribute significantly to the success of the 2030 sustainable development goals. To volunteer, send a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org including your intention.
Well dome ma’am. Before we let our guests go, we usually talk about our faith and relationships. What does it mean for one to follow Jesus?
Dumebi: Everyone is following something or someone. Some people follow in the footsteps of their family. Some follow a philosophy of life, like the Golden Rule: “Treat others the way you want to be treated.” While others follow their own intuition, drawing from the salad bar of philosophy, religion, friends, and family. They do whatever they feel is right in their gut. Following Jesus begins when we respond to His call to repent and believe the gospel. The Good News that God loves us and has taken the initiative to reconcile us to himself by giving His Son to atone for our sins awakens us to God’s grace and moves us to want to live for Christ and follow him.
When we turn our attention to what the Bible shows us about how to actually follow Jesus in daily life, two things stand out immediately: understanding and obeying His teaching and following His example.
That said, Jesus is my everything and what I love most about Him is that in my deepest darkest moments, He lifts me up and lets me know that He is still there with me . We cannot get from another human being what God can do for us. He is my best friend , my family, the very air that I breathe.
Mobolaji: Hmm. I totally agree! Jesus is ‘bae’. He’s everything. And how would you describe a God-centered relationship?
Dumebi: Our culture has set a predictable pattern for beginning relationships today. We are familiar with the routine: we see someone we are attracted to, our eyes meet theirs, we conveniently end up in a conversation with them, we spend a couple of days or weeks flirting until one of us finally admits we’d like to go out, and we start an emotions-led dating relationship in which we always try to present our best side to the other person. Even Christian relationships tend to follow this pattern; the only difference is that we say Jesus Christ is at the center and attempt to prove that fact by praying together, attending church together, and putting a few boundaries around our physical interaction.
But when emotions are leading the way, spiritual oneness cannot be developed. When we are careening along on the unpredictable river of feelings, the current takes control and sweeps us in whatever direction it wants. We are no longer able to allow Christ to be in total control of the relationship.
No human being was ever meant to be the source of personal joy and contentment for someone else. And surely, no sinner is ever going to be able to pull that off day after day in the all-encompassing relationship of marriage! Your spouse, your friends, and your children cannot be the sources of your identity. When you seek to define who you are through those relationships, you are actually asking another sinner to be your personal messiah, to give you the inward rest of soul that only God can give. Only when I have sought my identity in the proper place (in my relationship with God) am I able to put you in the proper place as well. When I relate to you knowing that I am God’s child and the recipient of His grace, I am able to serve and love you. I have the hope and courage to get my hands dirty with the hard work involved when two sinners live together. And you are able to do the same with me!
However, if I am seeking to get identity from you, I will watch you too closely, listen to you too intently, and need you too fundamentally. I will ride the roller coaster of your best and worst moments and everything in between. And because I am watching you too closely, I will become acutely aware of your weaknesses and failures. I will become overly critical, frustrated, disappointed, hopeless, and angry. I will be angry not because you are a sinner, but because you have failed to deliver the one thing I seek from you: identity. But none of us will ever get the well-being that comes from knowing who we are from our relationships. Instead, we will be left with damaged relationships filled with hurt, frustration, and anger.
Mobolaji: I can get many quotes from your words, they’re full of wisdom. God help us to have the right mindsets in our relationships and not make another human a Deity or god over us.
Thank you so much for sharing this time with us. God bless you.
Dumebi: Thank you for having me, Mobolaji, I had fun. God bless you, too. And congratulations on the successful launch of your book….Letters to our Fathers. Well done!
Mobolaji: Thank you!
Dumebi lives in Ibadan, works as a teacher at The Vale College and is pursuing a doctorate degree at the Centre for Educational Media Resource Studies, University of Ibadan. She is also a co-founder and coordinator of a girls mentoring program in Nigeria called Just Us Girls (All Girls Bright and Beautiful) under AprilSpring, a branch of Soheza and Eden. JUGs aims to equip girls with a sense of responsibility for other girls’ development. Her programmes give girls the tools to make positive life choices and have a sense of their own personal power. The organisation’s Mentors help girls live healthier and more productive lives, promote community responsibility, promote alternatives to early sexual activity, empower girls and help them know how to enforce that power to make essential decisions in their lives.
She owns Glows and Sparkles , a makeup studio that trains and empowers girls.
She is the author of The Spider’s Web and Wrecked. She blogs on www.dumebie.com. You can find her on Facebook @DumebiEzar or twitter @Dezaart
She is working on her third novel.
If I want to say how thankful I am for her ehn, it will take a whole new post. I am really grateful.
The constructive criticism at that time helped set the tone for the outcome of the book. She gave suggestions and I ran with them!
Thank you for this interview.
Thank you for your heart. 💚
And thank you for the example you are to these girls.God bless you!
See you in the evening. Lessons. Lessons. Lessons for the week! (2 weeks actually.)