Even in the diaspora, the African light shines brilliantly and her seeds blossom, towering in their different fields and making the continent proud.
Nathan Haddish Mogos thrives in his own niche, a rising African writer passionate about his continent. From Oslo, Norway, Nathan captures his unforgettable African moments and paints his reality as an African living in the diaspora.
In this interview, the flourishing Eritrean writer talks about his literary journey, his life as an African writer in the diaspora, his challenges, hopes and successes and of course, some counsel for the young and aspiring.
Sit back, grab a pen and enjoy fresh inspiration this beautiful Monday morning.
Welcome to Konnect Africa! If you weren’t a writer, what else would you be doing?
Might not have become published, but nothing would have stopped me from writing. It is my therapy. Otherwise I have done my occupational migration in many arenas which have been actually counterproductive in my writing. One becomes one’s own writing material. To state some, English teacher, a cadet in a heavy artillery brigade as part of national service, tourist guide, sales promoter, waiter, bakery and food packaging staff, delivery man, mail distribution depot attendant, janitor, catering assistant, intern journalist, interpreter and translator in several East African countries and Europe. So anything to pay the bill I guess until one fulfils the destiny.
Let’s get up, close and personal; Give us a bit of history and ethnicity.
I was born in Ethiopia to Eritrean parents in 1982. Following the border crisis, we eventually relocated to Eritrea in 1998 in the heart of the capital city Asmara.
Education; Where and what did you study? Did you have to take any additional classes to hone your writing?
I studied at the University of Asmara and graduated in English BA SSE with literature being my main interest. Along the years, I read quite a lot and experimented with several writing styles. Still work in progress though!
Did you or your folks ever imagine you would become a writer?
I was quite a good story teller back in my days, apparently I was practicing my plot making skills subconsciously in the jokes and stories I tell. So people knew I had quite a wild imagination but few ever expected me to have the patience to immortalize those spiraling thoughts onto paper.
What are your influences as a writer? What influences your writing?
My influences come from several sources. First off, throughout the last two decades, a blessing in disguise, the turmoil in my homeland and the forced migration through several East African countries and later in Europe allowed me to experience, observe and contemplate life from different spectrums. Watching the news in diaspora dominated by Western based experts becoming the spokesperson and the narrators of our existence frustrated and belittled me. I felt misinterpreted and misrepresented as an African which I am proud to be regardless. It should be us who should tell our stories to the world. Thus took it personal in capturing the unforgettable moments, the harsh reality in diaspora from an African perspective, the objective social commentary of the shared experience from a post-colonial generation point of view to an African target audience.
Kindly give a sneak peek into your new book.
Kindly look inside the sample pages of Amid the Chaos on amazon for a sneak peek http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B019S9WO6G?*Version*=1&*entries*=0
What were the challenges you encountered whilst writing and publishing the book?
The publication of my first novel in 2014, Mottak: An African Tale of Immigration and Asylum actually paved the way for my second novel. But got to be honest, with Amharic/Tigrigna being my mother tongue writing in English while living in Norway about African experiences is a dilemma both as a language barrier and the penetrating the jungle of book market. Thus took on the challenge to self-publish my second novel on amazon and seek out to meet my target audience personally. The translation to Norwegian and Tigrigna is already underway while the English paperback version will hopefully be in print very soon.
Do you see yourself as a ‘genre specific’ author?
Not at all, I am still learning and experimenting new styles, new genres but very comfortable with social commentary literary novel. The desire to better myself in a foreign language allows me the freedom to venture into literary genres unrestricted. Since I write in Amharic and Tigrigna as well, it enriches the mode of expressions and structures I can easily borrow and incorporate in my English writing.
Who are your favourite authors and what books have made the most impact on you?
Sebhat Gebregziabher for his fearless and timeless philosophical attempt to capture the underground scene in Addis, Letum Aynegalign. Richard Wright for his playful narration that depicts the African American mentality in Native Son. Dambudzo Marechera in Cemetery of the Mind for his intense poetic explosion that captures the diaspora psyche. These were the few among the many who have influenced my writing.
Have you ever received a negative review of your book? What did you do about it?
To point it out frankly any PanAfricanst ideology is perceived as anti- west sentiment in some corners. Some positive reviews and critical feedbacks had been made public in concern to my first book that depicts the reality of Africans inside a refugee center, to which I value and learn from as an apprentice in this career. While some bloggers here in Norway had reacted strongly as well to the Norwegian translated version. But from my point of view, if you took the time to read my entire book, compose an emotionally charged review and post it on public domain it is an inadvertent compliment. I felt like I indeed hit the mark. I provoked their thoughts in telling the story of invisible lives. Social commentary is there to create debate is not it? Otherwise I am a thick skin African city boy who is not offended easily.
How do you prod yourself to write on those awful days when it just seems so hard?
Getting stuck in one project, when life gets in the way is a recurrent theme. But I start many ideas and projects at the same time in different languages and hope to feed off energy and ideas when one stagnates to the other.
You are at a Writers Workshop; what do you tell the eager listeners who seek to better their skills?
After overcoming the nerves and before the writer’s ego kicks in, I tell them the struggle never ends.
What’s the best perk of being a writer?
People expect and accept your eccentricities most times once you are published. “Well ya ya you know how they are, these writers and the crazy world of theirs… “
Do you believe that writers can change the world?
Maybe personal bias, but I have no choice but to believe that.
Where can your books be purchased, online and offline?
Here is the authors page where one can find the kindle version of my two books or the paperback of my debut novel for sale. http://www.amazon.com/Nathan-Haddish-Mogos/e/B00P1JM7FG/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0 Or one can directly buy from the publisher DAP NY http://www.dafricapress.com/#!/Mottak-An-African-Tale-of-Immigration-and-Asylum/p/56608672/category=15321911
Africa will rise when?
It is now or never! Our generation must seize the opportunity to narrow the gap and reclaim the status we deserve in this world, when the rest of the world is struggling economically, politically and socially. The signs are out there; it is now or never. But first off, the diaspora Africa (including me) must reverse the trend of brain and labor drain that is underestimated in the West anyway.
Inspire an aspiring African writer in one sentence…
You will always be an apprentice in the writing business, never an expert.