Alex Abesadu Bitrus Byanyiko is a writer and a film maker. In this interview with Stellamaries Amuwa, he admonishes young Nigerians to be focused, determined and passionate enough.
What inspired you into writing and film making?
I started out as a rapper as far back as 1996. In a bid to improve myself as a rapper, I went on reading novels and dictionary so I could improve on my vocabulary to be able to express myself effectively as a rapper. In the course of reading novels, I fell in love with story-telling. The book that finally seduced me into writing was Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens, which I read under a tree in a forest when I was supposed to be in the class room some time in 1997. From that period, I started writing short stories, the kind that used to be on Hints Magazines in those days, but I didn’t have the courage to submit any for publication. I also never shared any with anyone, but I kept writing.
Sometime in 2002, when I started watching Nigerian films, I immediately fell in love. My interest in story-telling bulged, and I became curious about how to write screenplays. In the same year while in Kaduna Polytechnic studying Mass Communication, I used to spend some of my free time at the national library, Kaduna, looking out for books on film making and screenplay writing. The first full screenplay I read was From Dusk Till Dawn, a 1996 movie directed by Robert Rodriuez and written by Quentin Terentino.
What has been some of your challenges?
Film making can be capital intensive. So, obviously, financing is the number one challenge. As a film maker, most times you have to produce a lot of great contents to get noticed and that takes some money. Especially for people like us who already have a family to take cater for. Every other challenge can be worked around.
In your opinion what is the way forward?
The way forward is to keep on producing something and supporting others till I get noticed. I’ve also decided to dedicate most of my time now to writing short stories, a form of writing that I’m relearning, having left it since early 2000.
You know, writing is about the only thing that needs only you and your pen and paper or a computer to execute. And a good writing can open windows of opportunities to change your life and that of others. You’re not limited by budget as it is in film making and other creative endeavors.
What is your typical day like?
My typical day is mostly indoors. I’m either reading or writing. Sometimes I’m editing films or watching different kinds of tutorials on all the aspects of film making and writing on Youtube. I can also be busy with some home chores, supporting my wife and having some incredible time with my children.
What is your philosophy of life?
My philosophy is live, learn and teach by the things I do and how I do them.
How close have you come to achieving your personal life goals in life?
Goals spread into a life time. I have achieved some, I am achieving some and so shall it continue till the day I take my last breath. This is because I have so many goals and each of them has different time frame. For instance, one of my goals was to have free time to do what I want to do at the time I want to do them, and I’m doing so now. Another is to be one of the top-rated writers and film makers from Africa. I’m vigorously pursuing that in the midst of all oppositions, with little steps notwithstanding. And, of course, I can’t tell you when that will be, but it will be. There are so many others that I can’t exhaust here.
Well, success is a relative term. As I said earlier, this also can be a life time journey and I’m still on course.
Tell us about your highest point in life?
The highest point in my life was when I became born again. Many things changed about my world view.
What is your most memorable childhood experience?
My most memorable childhood experience would be when I stole five naira from my father’s pocket. The money was so big at the time that I bought so many things for me and my friends that we could not finish eating. One of the friends went and reported to my mother about all the things I bought for them. She in turn reported to my father who then confirmed that his five naira was missing. He whipped me so mercilessly that my mother began to cry that he was going to kill me.
What does fashion and style mean to you?
Fashion and style means personality. It means who you are and what you think about yourself. If you think you’re elegant, you dress as such. If you think flamboyant, you dress as such. If you think decent, you dress as such and so it goes to people who dress half or completely naked.
Can you tell us about the designers you patronise?
No, I don’t have designers now. Maybe I will have soon. But I love New Balance foot wears because of my kind of work and I love Gucci for the elegance, and sometimes simplicity.
What are those fashion items you cannot do without?
There is no fashion item I can’t do without. I love freedom. I love to be able to be happy, in spite of the things I don’t have.
Tell us a little about your family?
I’m a Gbagyi boy from Gurku village, middle belt, Nigeria. My mum was Angas. I am married to a wonderful wife from Kebbi State, Sarah Chabo, now bearing my surname. Together we have two wonderful, very dramatic boys. One is on the way coming by God’s grace and you can shoot a guess at it, whether it will be a girl or a boy.
What makes you stand out?
I’m not dictated by anyone. I respect all in spite of their age, religion or social class. I’m a real dreamer, my friends in school used to describe me as an idealist, whatever that means to them.
What is your advice to young Nigerians?
My pieces of advice for the young Nigerians, which I’m also one, is to believe in yourselves. When you start pursuing dreams, many will laugh at you. When the tough times come, people will disrespect you, both from family and friends. You should know that nobody owes you a thing. If you have great dreams, you’re the one who is going to make it happen. But then, when you’re focused, determined and passionate enough, God is going to bring destiny helpers. Be very sure that whatever you do is aimed at uplifting others, inspiring others and teaching others how to be good assets to God and humanity. By so doing, we will live happy and fulfilled lives.
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