I love reading a story that expands my horizons, whether speculative or in real life, so when I looked up each word in this story that was not familiar, I was delighted to learn about each new person, place, or thing from various cultures and geographies in and around Nigeria! Are these places you have lived or visited? Why did you choose these particular locales for this story?
I presently live in Kaduna, Nigeria. I’ve lived here for four years now and I’m fascinated with the pastoral aesthetics of the region. I grew up in a similar locale, but I hadn’t been there in years. Moving to Zaria (formerly Zazzau), Kaduna, for school brought back some of these memories. I chose these places because they’re quite familiar. There’s a Sabon-Gari or a Sabo in every town, and they’re almost always rowdy.
There are so many themes at work in this story, climate change, bioethics, capitalism, clean water rights, health equity, to name just a few. Please tell us about some of the real-world events that inspired the characters and/or plot for “Cloudgazer.”
This is actually the second in a series of shorts I hope to write one day. And yes, they’re all centred around rainmaking. The inspiration came from the lack of water rights I experienced in Zaria. While I grew up in megacities or locales where every home either had a borehole system, or water supply from the government, Zaria had wells instead. And these wells, they swelled or sank in tune with the weather. I came here as a student and the living conditions for students often came without accommodation for water supply. I guess I was just playing out my own quest for constant pipe-borne water.
For the characters, the ones that try to persuade you to buy their wares, they’re based off the traders in Lagos—ferocious men and women with the best marketing skills you’ll ever see. And Zik is based off of someone I once knew.
Was this work inspired by any particular book/story/author/artwork that you can share?
No, at least not that I can recall. The idea for the work has been in my Notes section for years. It took months to pen out so I guess a lot of things may have influenced it, none that I can recall now though.
What is next for you? Any book-length projects in the works you can tell us about?
I’ve got no book-length projects yet; I get distracted way too easily for those but I have several fiction and nonfiction works I’m working on including one that chronicles the history of rainmakers across the continent (fiction), nonfiction works on black queerness and (religious) fatherhood, and an odd poem I’m not proud of.
Spread the word!