How I Turned My Love for Culture and Trado-Poetry into a Phenomenal Brand – Founder, OldNaija
African culture and tradition are believed to be going into extinct due to the globalization of the world. Westernization has almost taken over completely in almost all areas such as commerce, law, politics, fashion, diet, dressing, language, religion, philosophy, technology and cultural beliefs.
Teslim Opemipo Omipidan, Nigerian writer, poet, journalist and founder of OldNaija.com (a website focused on shedding light on Nigerian history and culture) is one of those striving to preserve African values and tradition through poetry.
His works have appeared in different newspapers, literary magazines, websites and poetry anthologies. He won the ‘Upcoming Blogger of the Year’, NAMACOS, Adekunle Ajasin University Akungba-Akoko (AAUA), in 2016 and then ‘Blogger of the Year’, NAMACOS, AAUA, in 2017. In December 2017, Omipidan was awarded ‘Poet of the Year’ by the Joint Halls of Residence, AAUA and was honored by Black Pride Magazine as a contributor to the growth of poetry in Nigeria.
He is also the winner of the first edition of the Samson Abanni Poetry Contest in 2018, the 2nd prize winner of Prose and Poetry Hood’s Valentine Poetry Competition and the 2nd runner up of the PIN Food Poetry Competition. His works are influenced by his society, history and culture. He is currently studying Mass Communication at Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, Ondo State.[Great Read: Oyinkansola Ayobiojo, a Multifaceted Business Professional Shares Her Inspiring Story and 6 Tips for Getting a High Profile Job]
In this interview with Onpoint Success, he shares how his love for culture and trado-poetry led him to start OldNaija, his current challenges and his vision for the future. Sit back, relax and enjoy.
1. Please Introduce Yourself to Our Audience
I am Teslim Opemipo Omipidan, a Nigerian poet, journalist and the founder of OldNaija.com
2. What was Growing Up Like?
I grew up with my parents and three siblings in the metropolis of Ibadan. Having a disciplined father, a prayerful mother and three caring siblings while growing up played a huge role in shaping me into what I am becoming today. I spent my childhood between being indoor and outside with my friends. In street parlance, I can be called a “get-inside-aje-pako” boy (lol).
3. How Did Your Parents Influence You?
My parents influenced me in so many ways. As a child, they showed me the importance of running one’s race at one’s pace which is still holding me together. My parents also influenced my morals. As the saying goes: elders lead by examples and not words of mouth; this is applicable to my parents; they led me by examples.
4. Tell Us About a Major Turning Point in Your Life?
A major turning point in my life was when I attended a tutorial center (Mustard Seed Unilab) in Ibadan where I further developed my talents and skills in writing. I met people who turned my life around. That was also when my passion for history was fueled and has since then not gone down.[Great Read: How This Nigerian Woman’s Passion for “Smelling” Nice Led Her to Birth Her Fragrance Business]
5. You Write a Lot of English-Yoruba Poetry, How Did You Develop That Skill?
I call my style of poetry “trado-poetry” which is a fusion of English and Yoruba languages. This came as a result of the love I have for my culture and my pledge to preserve and promote black heritage. When I started reading classic poets like Niyi Osundare, I discovered the beauty of African poetry/literature but then I turned my wheel a bit sideways to the code-mixing style of poetry instead of the popular all English style.
6. Why Do You Address Yourself as the Son of Magic Waters? Is There Any Interesting Story Behind It?
Son of Magic Waters! Actually, there isn’t a story behind the name. It was coined from my surname, Omipidan, which translates as “water performs Magic”. I am the son of my father, hence the “son”; and then our water performs magic, hence “Magic Waters”.
7. What Is Your Brand, OldNaija, All About?
OldNaija is a history and culture-based platform that I founded in 2014. At OldNaija.com, we document the history and traditions of Nigeria then make it available to Nigerians at home and abroad. This is as a result of the increase in the ignorance and negligence of Nigerian history & culture among Nigerians today.
8. What Services Do You Provide?
At OldNaija.com, we handle research works for researchers and help students with their assignments and project works relating to Nigerian history and culture.
9. What Is Your Unique Selling Proposition?
“Home of Nigerian History and Culture”
10. Where Do You See Yourself In 5 Years?
I see myself in higher places. I see myself as a journalist working with a top media house. I see myself as a well-established author and the CEO of the biggest history, culture and lifestyle magazine in West Africa.[Great Read: How Watching Her Mom Propelled Her to Start a Fashion Brand That Stands Out Among the Rest]
11. What Challenges Are You Currently Facing and What are the Steps You’ve Taken to Resolve Them?
It has not been easy turning the attention of Nigerians, the youth especially, to history and culture. The Western culture is overshadowing our indigenous ways to the extent that anything relating to the latter is tagged barbaric.
It is OldNaija’s duty to correct this and we have been doing that but as said earlier, it has not been easy getting the attention and interest of the people. However, we are employing different means to solve this challenge one of which is the forthcoming OldNaija Historical Exhibition. And taking your question from the angle of poetry, a major challenge is the Nigerian government which has failed and is failing to encourage writers. I once said this in an interview with The Hope Newspaper. And what step could a young poet like me possibly take other than to protest, with my pen?
12. What Advice Do You Have for People Who Want to Build a Brand as a Poet?
My advice for anyone with such intention or dream is to be determined. It is not a child’s play to get people to accept and acknowledge your thoughts and then take you as a brand. Therefore, one must be determined, consistent and keep developing because writing does not have a peak. In a nutshell, keep holding water.
13. What Current Projects Are You Working On?
I am working on publishing my first collection of poems and I am really excited about that. Also, I am currently working on a historical exhibition which has been scheduled to take place on the 7th of October 2019 at Adekunle-Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, Ondo State, Nigeria. The exhibition will give an opportunity for students and community members to learn about the past of Nigeria. It’s tagged “A Retrospection of Nigeria ’70″.[Great Read: 10 Solid Facts About Seun Akinlotan, Founder, Onpoint Success]
14. How Can Readers Reach or Connect You?
15. What Else Would You Like to Say to Our Audience?
It is an honor to have you guys read my words here and I am saying a big thanks to Onpoint Success and Mrs. Seun Akinlotan for giving me this platform to express myself. We hold water; let’s keep flying.
Thank you for reading! Do you have a question for Mr. Omipidan? Ask your questions in the comment box below and remember to share this post with a friend.
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