Home Hype MusicAfrica A conversation with the author of the 2019 Graywolf Africa Prize finalist, “NO BE FROM HIA”, Natasha.

A conversation with the author of the 2019 Graywolf Africa Prize finalist, “NO BE FROM HIA”, Natasha.

by HypeTeam
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Natasha Omokhodion-Kalulu Banda is a UK-born Zambian of Nigerian and Jamaican heritage living in Lusaka.
She is passionate about the growing literary scene in Africa and enjoys the power of story-telling.
Get to know the trending personality, Natasha who has been published in the African Women Writers (Afriwowri) e-publication anthology Different Shades of a Feminine Mind, and featured on AfricanWriter.com for her story ” To Hair is Human, To Forgive is Design.”

Who is Natasha?

Natasha Omokhodion-Kalulu Banda is a wife, mother, daughter, creative entrepreneur and writer. I was born in 1983, moved to Zambia when I was 6 years old and did my education here at Tree-Tops, Namununga and then Banani School. I later studied in Australia and South Africa. I returned home in 2009 to begin my career in brand management, advertising and event management.

When did you start your writing career?

I would say I started in 2016, though I did not consider it a career. It was very rudimentary then. I got a rejection in my first attempt at Short Story Day Africa. After that, I decided to read and read and read. Then I began to write and write and write. In 2018, I got short stories accepted in pan-African anthologies including Short Story Day Africa, and thereafter there was no turning back.

What got you started?

I would be hit with such a compelling need to get a story out of me. The first time in 2016, it was actually how I created the Ayomide and Kombe families. I was woken up in the middle of a nap with a strong urge to put on paper these characters that were so alive in my head.

What projects you are currently working on?

I’m working on something historical. But I can’t share too much yet because it’s still forming.

Which project is going to release first in the coming days?

I’m in the process of putting together a creative writing workshop that’s going to get our writers together and excited for 2020 I hope. For me, that’s what this whole journey is really about.

Which authors do you believe are the most influential local and international?

Wow. Locally I think we’re seeing some great work come out of local authors. Off the top of my head Mubanga Kalimamukwento, Ellen Aaku Banda and Namwali Serpell should be the most influential. But we have authors like Henry Sakala who write for Zambezi Magic’s Mpali, Ingrid Nayame who writes romance. On the international scene there are so many, but my reigning favorite in historical saga is Yaa Gyasi Ghanaian-American, Lola Shoneyin Nigerian poet and author, founder of Ake Arts Festival and Ouida Publishing. And I also just love Chibundo Onuzo’s street life adventures of Lagos. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie should still be the most influential internationally, but I stand to be corrected.

What do you do when not working?

 

When I’m not working I’m with my family. My children are very entertaining human beings. We have a big family, so chances are you’ll find me with aunties, cousins or siblings anytime outside of work. I also like to travel. My book was written while I was in Ndola, Lusaka, Chinsali, London, Paris – all new places seem to stimulate my imagination.

Are you married,  How did you meet your partner?

Yes, I have been married for 6 years. My husband and I met when we were teenagers just before the new millennium aka Y2K hahaha! I was 15 and he was 18. My cousins and I were going out to a party and we went to pick him up. They introduced us, and I could say we were like magnets—we clicked immediately. But because he had to leave to study in England, and when I completed school I went to university in Australia, we thought we’d never see each other again, so we moved on with our lives. We met later when we were adults in 2012 at his mum’s house. I was invited over by some mutual friends, we went out to a group dinner at Marlin’s, and I don’t think we’ve ever spent a day apart since then.

Since we in a month of love, any romantic tips for Valentines Day?

Let’s love one another and remember what unites us rather than what divides us. Spoil your loved ones and remember to love yourself first.

What’s for the future?

Lots of projects that highlight our Zambian stories, because we have plenty. I want to work with younger voices and see if we can develop good stories to share with each other and the rest of the world.

What advice would you give to young upcoming writers in Zambia?

There is power in the digital age. Loads of information, free writing courses and research is available for us to harness our writing skills. In the same breath, there is plenty of content from the old days, sitting and waiting to be tapped into. Value this resource, and let your imagination run wild. It is your only boundary.

In the book, you end the epilogue with a reference to Sampa the Great. Is there a reason why?

Final Form dropped when I was at the very end of my writing journey in NO BE FROM HIA. As soon as I heard those powerful lines, never mind that awesome video, it was like she had summarized all the feelings and experiences of my characters. I could literally feel her through her words. So, it was the natural thing to do—it was the perfect score.
Natasha’s book is available online at Amazon in paperback or Kindle format.
In Zambia, you can get her book at 37D Art Gallery, Lusaka Co-Op and at all Bookworld outlets in Lusaka and Kitwe.

Natasha has an upcoming reading event set for  the 27th of February 2020 at Co-Op Lusaka.

For more on Natasha, visit her website:
www.natashaomokhodion.com OR
Follow her social media platform:
Instagram: @tashomokhodion
Twitter: @TashOmokhodion
Facebook: Natasha Omokhodion-Kalulu Banda

Make Up by: Rose Kandela 

Book launch Photos by: Chaze Matakala @kuatengamedia chaze@decolonialdaydreams.com www.decolonialdaydreams.com

Hype Magazine Zambia :Photos by: Jae Zambia & Wula Naka ( WN Photography)https://www.facebook.com/WNphotographyart/

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