“I have gained this from philosophy: that I do without being commanded what others do only from fear” ~Aristotle
In a world dominated by dos and don’ts, philosophy gives us a reason to reason. To open up our God-given minds and stretch our thoughts to the extremes of logic in the aim to find out what we are doing, and why we are doing what we are doing.
Someone once said “all great writers are philosophers”, that is why my guest on the stroll today is a writer; and not just a writer but an award-winning writer. Mr.Tope Folarin is the winner of the 2013 Caine Prize for his short story ‘Miracle’, set in an evangelical Nigerian church in Texas. And considering the fact that philosophy and religion have always been clashing, I don’t think I’d have found a better guest with enough contradiction to make a great stroll for world philosophy day.
In course of our stroll, we discussed extensively on philosophy and its use in the society today; he did a rewind on his past before the Caine prize; gave me a sneak peep into his future plans; and I also asked him about the rumours making the rounds that he’s holding a grudge against Chimamanda Adichie.
Ebenezar: It's a pleasure having you on the Stroll, Mr Tope.
Tope: Thanks for having me. It's a pleasure to be here.
Ebenezar: The Caine Prize is described as Africa's leading literary award. What does winning this award feel like? Was it something you were expecting?
Tope: It's been an amazing experience. I had dreamed about it for a very long time. So winning the prize was everything that I'd hoped for.
Ebenezar: 'Miracle', your winning story is set in an evangelical Nigerian church in Texas. I'd like to know, do you really believe in Miracles?
Tope: I do believe in miracles. I also believe that some Christians are more excited by certain miracles than others. My story is trying to call attention to those everyday miracles that some of us now take for granted.
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Ebenezar: Talking about Miracles and religion, today is World Philosophy Day, and Religion and Philosophy are two things that never agree, in the sense that; Philosophers believe religion doesn't exist, and religious people see philosophers as dumb people (haha). What do you think about this?
Tope: I'm not sure I agree with you. Many great philosophers--Thomas Aquinas and Reinhold Niebur come to mind--were religious, and wrote extensively about their faith, and faith in general. I do believe philosophy and faith can co-exist. People from both sides must become more open minded in order for this to happen, though.
Ebenezar: Do we need Philosophers in the world today? Do you think they are relevant to this present generation where everybody has his/her own philosophy of life?
Tope: Absolutely. Philosophers spend their days thinking about why we are, how we are, and who we might be. These are incredibly important questions, and philosophers are uniquely situated--because of their academic training, because of their interests and goals--to offer some answers.
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Ebenezar: Okay, before the Caine Prize many people in Africa didn't know much about you, your background and all that. So I'd like you to just tell us a bit about yourself, your career, and when you started writing.
Tope: I started writing in grad school, about eight years ago. I really began to focus on my craft about five years ago, when I left my job at Google and decided that I would dedicate my life to writing. So I've been on a long journey of writing and learning. And I learn something new every day.
Ebenezar: Do you think Nigerian writers in the Diaspora owe Nigeria a responsibility?
Tope: Nigerian writers in the Diaspora should strive to be the best writers they can be. Nothing more, nothing less.
Ebenezar: One Nigerian in the Diaspora I admire is Chimamanda Adichie, and there are rumours that her comment about the Caine prize made you angry. She said, and I quote, '' for me, it's not the arbiter of the best fiction in Africa... I don't go to the Caine Prize to look for the best in African fiction.'' (hmmm) what do you have to say about this?
Tope: I'm surprised to hear that there were rumors I was upset. I wasn't upset at all. I'm happy for Chimamanda, and proud of all that she's done. I've admired her writing for quite a while. My only goal each day is to become a better writer. That's my focus.
Ebenezar: Finally, when will your novel be released? Or is it already out?
Tope: I'm finishing up my novel now, so hopefully soon. I'll let you know when it's out!
Ebenezar: Thank you so much for strolling with me despite your busy schedule, I wish you all the best.
Tope: Thanks Ebenezar, Thanks.
For more about Tope, you can find him on twitter @topefolarin
Personally I've got nothing against philosophers. I admire them; the art of deep thinking they practice; and their resilience in standing firm on what they believe in till their death—that’s a really great attitude I must say. But where a couple of them step on my toes is when they start deceiving themselves by making up theories that God is not real.
Are you kidding me? God is not real? So what keeps the world going? Who feeds the poor and destitute? Who designed earth in such a way that the moon never fails to resume its duty every night? Huh? Who gives you breath every morning? Who made oxygen? Yet you claim there’s no God?
Take note, I’m not talking religion. This is fact! God is real, Jesus is true. Jesus died for your sins because; He wants you to be saved from the coming judgment that will hit the world soon. Why not give your life to him? Why not get saved today? The ball is in your court.
Till my next stroll on November 25th (International Day for the elimination of violence Against Women); when I’d be strolling with Christina Lamb—Foreign correspondent for Sunday Times, and co-author of ‘I Am Malala”—as we discuss women, violence, and Malala; Think free, think wise, Jesus Loves you.
WORLD PHILOSOPHY DAY
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