Meet Captivating 16 Yr Old Munachi Mbonu, an exceptional Nigerian fiction writer whose powerful storytelling weaves fascinating African narratives infused with indigenous essence.
Munachi’s books, which draw on a wealth of cultural references, resonate with global audiences, bridging cultures and celebrating our heritage. At the age of ten, she published her first two books, ‘Concealed’ and ‘Chidubem: The Child of Destiny,’ launching a remarkable literary journey. Munachi’s storytelling prowess captivates hearts and minds, from prestigious book unveilings attended by dignitaries such as Lagos State Executive Governor Babajide Sanwoolu to captivating audiences at international events.
Munachi, who turned 16 this July, has launched Nigeria’s first online book clubhouse, www.mmbonu.com, as well as a campaign to revitalize Nigeria’s reading culture among readers of all ages. The free online platform celebrates the joy of reading and brings together book lovers of all ages, with iconic Nollywood actor Joke Silva sharing “Folktales.” Munachi’s goal of revolutionizing reading culture lives on with www.mmbonu.com, as she embraces technology to share the enchanting tales of Nigerian culture with the world.
Congratulations Munachi, on the launch of your online book clubhouse. What was the inspiration behind it? And what do you want to achieve with this?
I started writing at the age of 7. Usually, when I was bored, I wrote short stories on my laptop, and along the line, my mum and family members started listening to them. Since they loved listening to them, I thought to myself later, what if I made way for everyone else to read? With the online book clubhouse, we have created a free platform that encourages the reading culture amongst young people, especially in our generation, where the screen time rate is alarming. It’s also an opportunity to share my stories with the world, and I hope that it’s able to inspire other writers across the globe. From Sudan to Seychelles and all the way to Switzerland and more! The stories are available for everyone at www.mmmbonu.com. To read the stories, all you need is to create an account.
What makes you passionate about books, reading culture, and being a writer?
When I read books, I can travel through the author’s mind to a place of many possibilities, so writing my own stories allows me to replicate the experience of also taking people on trips to wherever I want without restrictions.
What is your writing process like? How do you move from an idea to a finished work on sale in bookstores?
I wish everything looked this fancy from the beginning. Creating a reality from scratch that people can relate to is a lot of work. There were times I abandoned stories in the middle of writing because I didn’t know how to continue. There are other times when a rush of inspiration comes and allows me to pick up from where I left off. For example, it took me two and a half years to write my latest book PEARL, mainly because I’m a student and spend most of my time on academics. Managing my time was really hard, but I’m grateful that now, I can share this book with the world.
Speaking of your new book PEARL. How did you come up with the idea for the story?
The book centers around the importance of mental health and was inspired by a real-life experience of someone I know. I wanted to write something that young people can relate to, especially when it borders on their mental health, like the book’s main character. I hope that this book, Pearl, can lend its voice to raise awareness for people to take their mental health seriously and have the courage to seek help.
You started writing and telling African stories at 7. Since then, what has been your biggest joy, and on the other hand, your biggest challenge?
The experience has been a rollercoaster. To share my stories with people and see them enjoy and get inspired by them has certainly been my biggest joy. For example, seeing my books Chidubem and Father’s Will, selected to be read by schools and book clubs is very satisfying. On the other hand, writing these books isn’t all glamorous. There are times when I am stuck with no inspiration. For example, there was a time I didn’t touch my computer to write anything for three months. One of my biggest challenges is managing to be a student and a writer simultaneously. But with hard work and motivation, I have been able to publish four books, including my newest book PEARL.
Your mum seems like the #1 Munachi cheerleader. In your documentary video, she said she just wants to help you achieve your goals. How helpful has she been to your journey as a writer?
Yes, she is my number one cheerleader. My mum works hard, she never gives up. She is tenacious, inspiring me to be the kind of writer I am today. My mum pushes and encourages me, especially when I want to abandon some stories. PEARL was about to be another short story that would sit on my laptop for God knows how long till she motivated me to finish and publish it. She believes so much in me and constantly affirms that I can be a better writer. I will forever be grateful for having her as my mother.
What tips or advice do you have for young people like you who want to do great things?
It is never too early or late to start. Just do it!