There are very few that have written and published a book, yet alone two. The beginning of defining moment that turned Emeka’s ideas into reality was the tragic and untimely death of one of his young youth members, Agnes Sina-Inakoju. “She helped me start the workshop – ‘Consequences,’ she contributed to spread the word and would gather the local teens to take part. After her funeral the youth club closed for a while, it touched us dearly, and we needed time to mentally and emotionally prepare ourselves to operate again.”
Agnes was only 16 years old and had impacted so many people lives. She sparked people into action, Emeka being one of them. “I had a conversation with someone, and that person said, these sad events are inevitable in our society, and there is nothing that can be done. This did not sit well with me, with that person’s attitude and not trying. That’s one person’s life lost that could have been saved.” We can sometimes forget the importance of life. Time, effort, compassion, and finances are some of the things that stop us investing in resources that could save young lives; do we live in a world where we value money and possessions over lives?
“I completely disagreed with that person, and there’s more that could be done even if it means saving one person at a time.” No longer a youth worker and now a lecturer, Emeka went on a mission to find a medium, where he could express his thoughts and reach a larger audience. “I’m not a rapper, so I decided to write a book.” His first non-fiction book, ‘Consequences’ which was based on his workshop was well received by the public and received positive press from The Guardian and BBC.
“This showed me that you should never doubt yourself. There were so many reasons why I shouldn’t have been able to do it. I published the book independently, and it was self-financed. There were so many obstacles, but I had the drive and passion for seeing it through, even if I would have to give the book away for free.” When you are embarking on an independent route, you go through difficult moments, but that’s what builds your character and prepares you for your next journey in life. Emeka’s blood, sweat, and tears went into his book, and it is evident in how passionate he speaks about his work and even his willingness to give it away for no remuneration.“My book was targeted at teenagers across the world who lived in deprived communities. Nevertheless, I’ve had young to old, people from middle-class and affluent backgrounds that live outside of London that have purchased my book. They’ve told me they loved it, and how it is given them a unique perspective on how people can live in London.”It took Emeka 5-6 months to write his first book. The process of writing the book, having it printed, to figuring out how to market it, are all skills he had to develop. It took a lot of hard work and discipline, networking and utilising a lot of his resources. “We live in a world right now where you can research and teach yourself near enough anything without having to pay a lot of money. There is so much information available if you have the passion and drive you will surely obtain it.”
“As an adult, one of the most selfish things we can do is not share information.” We all have unique experiences and have different stories if our experiences can have a positive effect on another, surely to share knowledge should be one of the things we strive for?
“I’m not saying I am going to change everyone, but even if my message resonates with people my age and older, this could motivate them to pay attention to what their children, younger siblings, cousins or any youth around them do and have a positive influence in their lives. We shouldn’t as adults assume young kids will not listen, let’s share our experiences and hopefully inspire them to avoid making mistakes that could affect their lives negatively in the future.”
A touching moment while talking to Emeka is when he spoke about his daughter. A bright smile became visible upon his face – “She wants to become a writer now, she writes letters and notes to me and her aunties all the time – they can be touching, even the simple stories of how her day went.”
Due to the success of ‘Consequences, accounts of young people,’ there was no need for Emeka to give his book away for free. With this platform he has written his second book and his first novel, ‘Ambitions of the Deprived’ – ‘Set in 2005, before London, hackney’s fashionable makeover, we follow the lives of four teenage friends embarking their individual journeys of discovery and the barriers they face getting there.’
Emeka makes it clear that ‘Ambitions of the Deprived’ is not centered on the ‘typical’ mainstream narrative of young Londoners & gang culture. He wanted to change that stereotypical view and portray the accounts of youth who want success but grew up in areas that are renowned for negative activity.
What’s the one thing that the readers should get from this book? “Strive for success – No matter wherever you come from, affluent background or not; we are not born as babies superior to another baby. It’s the social setting that you grow up in that can shape who you are. However, that shouldn’t be the factor to stop you from achieving, we all have the capability to be successful.”
‘Ambitions of the Deprived’ and ‘Consequences’ are available for purchase directly from Emeka Egbuonu website: www.ambitionsofthedeprived.com plus, Amazon and iTunes.
The Mother Gallery in Shoreditch, London will be hosting the ‘Ambitions of the Deprived’ exhibition in September 2015, featuring the artwork from an artist that depict their translations of the books meaning. We’ll be sure to keep you posted with opening dates for this fantastic event!