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Nigerian Author Sparks Creativity Among Young Creators

From immersing herself in the world of literature to crafting her own stories, Chidera Okolie has been nurturing her creative interests since she was a child. The Nigerian lawyer and writer is the author of two novels, When Silence Becomes Too Loud (2014) and Not Forgiven (2017). Beyond her passion for writing, Okolie is actively encouraging young writers in Nigeria to fulfil their writing dreams through her Idios Creatives initiative, which she launched in 2018.

Lawyer and writer, Chidera Okolie, is on a mission to inspire young Nigerians to make the most of their creative talents. (Photo: Courtesy of Philip Kisaka Wasilwa)

From a young age, Okolie began exploring her creative voice. “I have always been an expressive person,” she says, “but there were times when I felt that my voice couldn't be heard, so writing became my outlet for self-expression,” she recalls. As her passion for storytelling grew, Okolie began to write short stories. “Whenever I imagined what a good story would look like, I would scribble in my exercise book and read it to myself.”

With a thirst for crime and suspense novels, a genre that she found “invigorating and exciting,” it is no surprise that she drew on this genre when writing her own work. "I visualize countless scenarios of how the story could unfold, placing myself in the character's shoes, which makes it easier for me to transcribe on paper," she explains. The crime and suspense genre has inspired her to write two novels, When Silence Becomes Too Loud (2014) and Not Forgiven (2017).

Okolie started writing her first novel, When Silence Becomes Too Loud, in 2014, without any intention of sharing it outside her personal sphere. “It was purely a personal endeavor,” she notes. But her father insisted that she have her book published. “I was hesitant to reveal myself so intimately and to allow others to delve into my innermost creative thoughts.”

Despite her initial fears, Okolie started looking for a publisher and the book’s release in 2014, exceeded all her expectations. “The book was widely acclaimed in my country and gained a lot of attention. It caught the eye of my country’s former president, who expressed his pride in associating with young people who strive to keep creativity alive in the country,” Okolie explains. Her outstanding novel earned her three awards, including the 2016 Nigerian Writers Award for Best Fiction Writer of the Year and a nomination for the African Achiever’s award.

Building on her success, Okolie’s second publication, Not Forgiven (2017), is also a collection of short psychological thrillers and also won accolades, paving the way for her to receive Most Outstanding Fiction Writer of the Year in 2017.

By exposing oneself through writing, you offer readers an intimate glimpse into your creative mind.

Okolie has plans to bring her literary works to life through film production, bridging the gap between the written word and visual storytelling. "I believe this could be both informative and entertaining, and it would make my work accessible to a wider audience,” she explains.

In addition to her fiction writing, Okolie is expanding her interests to include academic writing. As part of her Master of Laws in Information Technology and Intellectual Property Law, she is writing topical articles for various scholarly journals, including the Journal of International Women's Studies and the Journal of Intellectual Property. "I am expanding my writing horizons beyond fiction and I am currently delving into the realm of academic writing," Okolie explains. However, she continues to pursue her creative writing and is currently fleshing out the plot for a new book."

In January 2019, Okolie was listed among the 100 Most Influential Young Nigerians by Avance Media. She also features in the 2023 World IP Day Gallery.

Supporting young writers in Nigeria

In 2018, Okolie set up Idios Creatives, a platform for young creatives to explore and express their creativity. “Through the Idios Creatives project, I wanted to provide a platform for a new generation of writers to embrace their creative power. It is my way of contributing to the development of young people's writing and other creative skills," Okolie explains.

To capture the attention of young people across Nigeria, in 2018, Okolie created the Idios Prize for Flash Fiction and Poetry. Over 300 school children took part in the competition. "We visited schools across Nigeria, collecting short stories from young writers. Eventually, we had about 300 stories, which we narrowed down to the best 100 for publication. This has helped showcase the abundance of creative talent in Nigeria,” Okolie notes.

In November 2018, Idios Creatives published The Future: A Collection of Short Stories and Poems by Children of Nigerian Schools, featuring the top 100 entries. About a thousand copies of the book were published, many of which have already been distributed in schools across Nigeria. Okolie is now setting her sights on having the book distributed overseas. “My focus at this time is to expand distribution of the book beyond Nigeria,” she adds.

“My hope is that young people are encouraged to read
more and explore their creativity,” says Chidera Okolie,
founder of Idios Creatives, a platform that supports
young creatives in Nigeria.
(Photo: Courtesy of Chidera Okolie)

Advancing IP and creativity in Nigeria

In setting up Idios Creatives, Okolie’s strongest hope is that “young people are encouraged to read more and to explore their own creativity.” The author is also a champion of intellectual property (IP) rights, highlighting their crucial importance in recognizing, rewarding and supporting creators for their work.

“IP allows you to protect your creative work from exploitation, illegal reproduction, and misuse. It also ensures the preservation of your economic rights, in other words, your ability to earn income from your work, and your moral rights, including the right to be credited as the creator, and the right to protect the integrity of your work,” Okolie explains.

While Nigeria has made progress in this regards, Okolie believes there is still more to be done to enhance the country’s copyright landscape. “Nigeria has long suffered from piracy, but the landscape is gradually improving. I strongly believe that IP rights play a critical role in emboldening artists to safeguard their work and leverage it for economic benefits. This becomes particularly significant when building a career based on one’s creativity,” she says.

Okolie is optimistic about the Nigeria’s creative scene. "As a Nigerian and a creator, the creative landscape in Nigeria fills me with hope. Nigeria’s creative scene has become a permanent and thriving ecosystem. The Nigerian creative industry is currently one of the largest in the world, is embarking on numerous international collaborations and gaining global recognition,” says Okolie. “It is thrilling to witness its current growth and potential," adding, “there are a great many opportunities for creatives in Nigeria today, so my advice to aspiring young creatives is “nurture your creativity as best as you can. Make it your priority.”

“My advice for young writers is, nurture your creativity as best as you can. Make it your priority”, says Chidera Okolie to young creators. (Photo: Courtesy of Emily Nkanga)