Olumide Popoola, was in Lagos recently to launch her first full-length novel, When we Speak of Nothing. The event was held at the serene ambience of Colours in Africa, Lagos. There was a dose of soul music and poetry performance to spice up Popoola's reading and her take on her new book, published in the U.K. and Nigeria by Cassava Republic Press.
With Benjamin Okoh of Classic 7.73 FM, moderating, the evening also saw such acts as Olori Africa, Eva Johnson performing poetry and dishing out music. Popoola said she took on the same theme of betrayal as was in her first work, as something recurring. But from all indications, there is infusion of political consciousness in the new work, as the lead character traverses the troubled Niger Delta terrain and absorbs all the complex issues that have made the region a hotbed of international oil and environmental politics.
According to Popoola, betrayal is an issue she seems fascinated with against the backdrop of other larger political issues of the day. Part entertainment and part research were what brought her to the Niger Delta and into firsthand contact with the oil exploration issues of the region and she couldn't escape the lure to infuse them in her novel.
She said: "All these issues about gas flaring, oil exploration were in the media, but I had never actually seen it. So, I wanted to go and learn about it personally and put it in the form of a novel."
Although Popoola might not have written a political novel about Nigeria on account of her peripheral knowledge about the country, her new work takes a dive into an area that is at the jugular of the country she barely knows - the Niger Delta, which is interesting.
Popoola was also at Ake Arts and Book Festival 2017 held in Abeokuta, where she took part in the book conversations.
Her play, Also by Mail, was published in 2013 by Witnessed (edition assemblage) and the short story collection, Breach, which she co-authored with Annie Holmes, in 2016 by Peirene Press. Her publications also include critical essays (often on practice-led research and the novel), hybrid pieces and poetry.
The scope of her work concerns critical investigation into the 'in-between' of culture, language and public space. She holds a PhD in Creative Writing, a MA in Creative Writing and a BSc in Ayurvedic Medicine. She lectures creative writing. In 2004, she won the May Ayim Award in Poetry category.