Today, we are interviewing Blessed E. Ngoe, an author, poet, and publisher. Lets hear about his exceptional and amazing journey!
Please tell us something about yourself.
I was born in a small village near Bafaka Balue in the Republic of Cameroon. I come from an old Oroko family, large enough to be a nation on its own. I am currently in the United States as a foreign doctoral student at the University of Colorado, Boulder.
How did you get into what you do right now? Please tell us more about your journey?
I come from a long line of oral storytellers. Growing up, I was surrounded by stories of our ancient past, stories of the struggles that my people go through each day, stories of survival, and resilience. Moving to the United States to study opened another world before me. This world presented me with a unique story about myself in a world that constantly defines me from its assumptions of who I may be and not necessarily from a position of who I truly am. Writing gave me the chance to find myself and express that self in a voice that is authentically mine.
Who are your role models?
If you are in my generation as a budding African writer, names like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Imbolo Mbue, and Jennifer Makumbi become almost like prophets for you. Their personal stories do not only resonate with mine, but also those of many who, like me, may not have had the opportunity to find a voice. Being women, they also represent, to me, a bridge that continues the divine mission of our mothers – to teach and edify through collective memory.
What inspires you?
I am driven to the world around me; its people, animals, mountains, rivers, and every wonder. Above all, I am inspired by my story, the journey I must make to find the ultimate meaning of why I am.
Please tell us about your book.
“Walls to Bridges” is the story of a foreign student in the United States who is caught in between a turbulent political crisis in his homeland of Biyeria and a rocky immigration system in his host country. After his student visa expires, Numa seeks other ways of staying in the U.S. His efforts are cut short after he ends up in an immigration detention center. The novel reflects the hitherto unheard voices of and challenges faced by foreign students in the United States and elsewhere.
“Walls to Bridges” also captures the necessity for people to work together, despite their perceived differences. Numa's mission in the U.S is only made possible, if so, through the help of people who he would have considered total strangers in most circumstances, or who would have seen him as a complete outsider, considering the prevalent narrative of race and ethnicity that we grapple with every day.
What's your most memorable experience?
Listening to my grandma's stories every evening by the fireside is one of my most memorable experiences.
Which social media channels work best for promoting your work? What exactly do you do on the social media channel that makes it work for you?
For now, I am most active on Facebook, where I publish a blog, Ebonigram, and other things. I mostly share posts about life in general, but specifically about the human condition in my country, Cameroon. I'd love to see myself active in Twitter and Instagram as well, although I have not really had so much luck there.
What's your greatest fear?
Fear is one of those things I have tried not to associate myself with. But if there's anything I worry about, it is that so many people out there can make a change, but they have not the means of doing so. That's because their voices have been swallowed in narratives that overshadow positive change.
Looking back, what's one thing you wish you understood better before you ever got started?
I think I should have known that having a story to tell is not all that matters. To have the story and a platform to get it out to those who need to hear, it is even more important.
What are the strategies that helped you become successful in your journey?
Well, first of all, I had to believe in myself. I also consulted with several people, elders, who encouraged and directed me whenever I needed them.
What keeps you going when things get tough?
Knowing that it is not just about my story, but the stories of so many who cannot tell theirs push me to keep moving. I also have young people like myself who have been told several times that they cannot make it. By not relenting, I am speaking to them that they can make it!
Any message for our readers.
To those who are following us now, I say, do not be afraid even of what you do not know. Instead of fear, seek to understand and embrace those who come to you. Build bridges that would make this world better than you met it. That is why we are.