Amaka Nwabeke who is fondly called Amakason is a poet, fiction writer and ultimately a Christian.
She began performing poetry in 2014 and has since then performed on a number of notable platforms alongside distinguished personalities.
She is the convener of The Spoken Word Poetry Conference (S.W.P.C). A poetry conference which she pioneered in 2014, the very same year she started performing poetry.
In 2020, she released her debut Spoken Word album titled ‘EMERGENCE’, in the same year, she also released her first book titled: ‘THE SUN’
She can be contacted via her social media channels listed below:
YouTube Channel: Amakason
She shares her “RUBY GIRL” story with the team.
1. Let’s meet you. Who is Amakason?
I am a spoken word poet and fiction writer. I love Jesus and consider Him the crust of my identity.
2. What inspired you to venture into poetry and fiction writing?
As cliche as it might sound, God inspired my venture into spoken word poetry. I wrote my first poem on a sad day. When I saw how writing about how I was feeling helped me feel better, I started writing poems consistently. At first, I would just read out from my book to the audience. Then in 2014, I went to Calabar to write an exam and that was where I met the guy that changed my life. He simply just told me that instead of reading the poem from my book, I could try putting the words in my head and then say them without this book. I thought it was pretty cool, and proceeded to try it. At this point, I still didn’t know it was called spoken word poetry or that it even had a name.
I took that guy’s advice and performed a piece the next day to a small gathering of people in Calabar. I didn’t take it too seriously. I was simply just reading my poem without the book. I got back to Lagos shortly after that and was having a chat with my friend Jessica Ibazebo. I can’t remember if it was a chat or even an argument but I do know that she asked me if I had heard about someone called Jackie Hill Perry. I told her that I hadn’t. She proceeded to show me Jackie Hill Perry’s poetry video called Jig-a-boo. I remember watching Jackie perform and feeling a kind of knowing in my heart that I could do what she was doing.
A week after that, I performed my first ‘official’ spoken word poem titled AMAKASON.
How I got into writing fiction is another story on its own. I’ll try and shorten it. We were told to write a drama script in ministry I used to be a part of. It was some of challenge for us to try our hands at script writing. I took the challenge pretty seriously and wrote my ‘supposed’ script. I say supposed because I was later then told by Lekan Aremo who was the drama co-ordinator that I had written a novel not a script. He then told me to try my hands at writing fiction. I shrugged it off at first but one night I picked a book and a pen and wrote a novel of some sort. And I have never stopped since then.
3. You authored your very first book, THE SUN in 2020. What is the inspiration behind it and what does it entails?
THE SUN is a story that was majorly inspired by life in general. Its about a promising girl named Dikachi. Who was born out of wedlock and dropped at the feet of her aging grandmother. The SUN is centered around my life and most of the questions I received after the book came out was, “it is your life story”, “did it happen to you”.
In the book, Dikachi was raised by her grandmother who took care of her in the best if her ability buy couldn’t do much because she was limited in her knowledge and people live or teach you based on what they understand. Technically, it’s about my life but not fully about me just a few things, no writer writer without putting a bit if themselves, so the SUN is a bit of me but not my life story.
4. What is The Spoken Word Poetry Conference(S.W. P. C) about and what are the feats recorded through it?
SWPC is an event where people come together to listen to wholesome amazing poetry accompanied with music and worshipping of God through words, life and everything that comes contact with it.
The feats recorded; we had full halls of almost 500 people, likes of Nosa, Folabi Nuel, Gaise Baba come perform. So far, we’ve had 9 editions of consistent community and just gathering people to come hear the word of God, we have people who make SWPC their festival yearly, it’s held first Saturday of every year.
I’m really proud of what SWPC has been able to do particularly because I didn’t know it would get this far, when God told me to do a conference, I remember we didn’t even have a team, I just called a couple of guys asking if they could perform poetry, now we have a 16 man team put together that makes the conference happen. We started very small, first conference was about 30 people in attendance and the first conference was the same year I started poetry in 2014.
5. As a spoken word poet, how do you get inspiration?
I get inspiration from life, people’s experiences, my experiences, the Bible, and so many other things. I don’t see inspiration as some air that falls on us once a while. I believe that we can be inspired everyday if we are deliberate about seeing life from a place of wonder and awe.
6. What do you do at your lowest moments?
I listen to music. I sleep. I talk to Jesus about how I’m feeling.
7. You released your debut spoken word album EMERGENCE, same year you released your first book. Was it planned and how were you able to pull through the two feats?
No, it wasn’t exactly planned. I didn’t begin the year with either of those two things on my to-do-list. It truly just happened. I had written THE SUN years ago but everytime thoughts of publishing it crosses my mind, I just always developed cold feet. 2020 was just the year where I dammed it all and walked on water.
Releasing EMERGENCE was very time consuming for me. I had to write at nights a lot. Which wouldn’t have been an issue if I was going to be indoors the next day, but I had work during the day. But God filled me with an immense amount of strength and I am truly grateful to Him for that.
8. Most memorable moment while performing on stage?
I was performing a poem at this event in Lagos and a lady was crying in the hall while I performed. I made a mental note to speak to her later to perhaps give her a hug and find out what I had said that hit her that deeply. But unfortunately I forgot. Prayed for her when I remembered though. Never forgot that moment. It made me realize the impact that words can have.
9. What are the messages or themes you addressed in EMERGENCE?
Brokenness, The Lekki Masaccre, Temptations and dying to self, Worship, Competition between creatives and how unwise it is and many more.
10. What are the challenges young writers and poet face in Nigeria? Which improvement will you like to suggest?
Generally poet are not very respected in Nigeria, we have come a long way, I have to say, it’s an art form that people are gradually respecting but we still haven’t gotten to the pinnacle yet. We would get there, some of the improvement is by pulling out great content, working hard to make people realize it’s not a joke, this is serious and a beautiful art. Another issue we have which also stems from the first one that I mentioned which is the fact that we are not as respected is that because we are not as respected, we are not as paid as should. We are underpaid. Some people just think that it’s just poetry, you just write words and put it together and that’s just silly, it’s creativity the fact that I made it simple doesn’t mean it’s simple but shows that I am good at what I do.
Poets need to make demands, if you believe that what you are doing deserves this particular amount call it out. There are unique dynamics to all these things, if it’s free or paid, all I’m saying, we should demand because people don’t know.
11. If you were the President of Nigeria for a day, what would you change?
I would make quality education more accessible to the poor especially at the primary and secondary School level. Emphasis on ‘quality’ though. People shouldn’t have to break the bank to get a good education. I don’t know how possible it is to get that done in a day, but it’s something I will put in the works. Maybe sign a lot of scholarships in one-day.
12. Mention 3 women who inspire you and why.
Jackie Hill Perry, because of how much of an awesome poet she is. I love how ‘herself’ she is.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie because of how well read she is and how she has placed Nigeria on the global map as a writer. I mean, who has 16 honorary degrees from several universities around the world if not an absolute genius. I love her complete courage in standing for what she believes to be true and damning the consequences.
TY BELLO, because of her deep connection to God and vast level of creativity. I love her.
13 .Where do you see yourself and your brand in the next 5 years?
It’s always hard for me to answer this question. Plus no one really knows the future. I am at a much better place than where I thought I would be 5 years ago. But, wherever I am in five years, I hope to still be pleasing Jesus. That’s the most important thing.
14. If you were given the opportunity to address a group of girls five years younger than you, what will be your advice to them?
Live like it’s your last day, love without holding back and never let fear dictate what you do or don’t do.