I caught up with an intelligent young lady from the most populous country in Africa, Nigeria, and by the time our first conversation came to an end, I came to appreciate more the significance of what the Apostle Paul told Timothy in the Bible “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity, 1 Timothy 4:12 (New International Version).
A beautiful and religious lady, her love for God was evident at our first meeting. I decided to meet her again and know more of the wonderful things she was doing to lift high the flag of her nation and the African continent as a whole. Relax and enjoy the wonderful conversation we had.
Wundef: Tell me about yourself
Morah: My name is Mirabelle Ogochukwu Morah. I’m eighteen and I’m from the little beautiful city of Calabar in the South-South region of Nigeria. Actually I’m from Anambra, but I like to think I’m from Calabar because I was born there. I’m a writer and a guitarist.
Wundef: What is your heartbeart?
Morah: My heart beat is in arts and literature. Encouraging young, talented African writers to keep writing and to lend their voices to their communities is what I do. That’s why I created blankpaperz.com, a literary platform for writers to publish their amazing pieces and inspire people through them. I love teenagers, I feel they’re special and vulnerable so I always volunteer at youth events. I often enjoy the bliss that comes with solitude, especially when I’m in the midst of nature.
Wundef: How did you start Blankpaperz.com?
I used to steal books from my dad’s room to read when I was about 6-7 years old. But I always returned them anyway (laughs). My dad cultivated my reading habits from a really tender age and I guess that’s what built my love for literature. In secondary school, I never wrote essays in my English exams. I always wrote short-story compositions. Getting older, the love for literature grew. I used to look for essays or short story competitions online but I couldn’t find much in Nigeria. I decided to start Blankpaperz in April 2016 to publish my works online and those of my friends’, but the vision grew bigger. Then I also started a Monthly Book Giveaway Contest and a Writer of the Month section to celebrate and encourage young writers in my city, Calabar.
Wundef: Do you face any challenges?
Morah: A challenge is that I usually have to use my pocket money to fund the giveaway contests , buy data and maintain the site. If the books encourage people to read more, I don’t mind. Though I’m currently working on a few means to cut my cost as well as gift more books. You really should see the smiles on people’s faces and in their hearts when they’re encouraged to keep writing, and when you tell them they’re doing such a fine job.
Wundef: What is the current state of Blankpaperz.com?
Morah: Currently and by God’s grace, over 70 young persons from over 6 West African countries including Cote D’Ivoire and The Gambia have been featured on Blankpaperz. I’ve also successfully held two book giveaway contests and given gifts to those who got nominated for the Writer of the Month section. And because I can’t do it alone, I write for other magazines and blogs.
Wundef: What state do you hope to see Blankpaperz.com in the next 20 years?
Morah: Interesting. In 2037 Blankpaperz should have partnered with many other foundations, organizations, governments and individuals to:
Organize continual and regular book giveaway contests and competitions in all the West African Countries.
Give out scholarships to over 2,000 young people (especially underprivileged school children).
Start a creative and innovative literary magazine for African youths and by African youths; showcasing the beauty of Africa through arts.
Basically, in twenty years time I want to have helped many young people to increase their literary skills (reading habits) and inspire them on a journey to see that so much can be achieved through writing because words are powerful and thus, should lend their voices to their societies whether in form of writing poems or short stories or articles.
You know, 2037 is such a long time. I’m sure by then I should be part of other initiatives too. By 2037 my guitar and singing skills should be above par and beyond excellent and I hope to have a nice chat with Chimamanda Adichie too.
Wundef: What are you currently doing to achieve that?
I’m currently studying English and Literary Studies at the University of Calabar and also studying Journalism at The YaLa Academy’s Aileen Getty School of Citizen Journalism. I write for other blogs such as Calabar Blog and for other magazines so as to learn more from others.
Wundef: Any message for other young people in Africa?
Morah: Remember that every expert was once an amateur so throw away your self doubts. Be confident about your skills and gifts no matter how little. Develop them, persevere, be humble to take corrections and learn from others. You’re not too small and always put God first.
Wundef: Thank you for your time, Morah, keep on making Africa proud.
Morah: Thank you for the opportunity to tell others my story.
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