A great deal of sarcasm and a flair for exaggeration power Olubunmi Familoni’s Bloodofjesus, the story of a pastor-father and his worst fears about the evils of university life corrupting his only daughter. Told through the son of the house, Familoni scrutinises respectability politics in the Christian home, criminal conduct within campus lifestyles and the power of social media in helping victims of sexual abuse confront their perpetrators. Bloodofjesus has been longlisted for The Short Story is Dead, Long Live the Short Story! (2018)
What was the germination of your story?
I’ll say it grew from growing up in a rigidly Christian home and watching the Church from a distance with some amount of disgust at the extent of hypocrisy that abounded in it, which was inconsistent with what was being taught in the bible classes or preached from the pulpit. A general feeling of aversion to these practices and the practice of organised religion in itself began to grow in me, which gave birth to such thoughts as expressed in this story. So I’ll say this is a story that was born of an idea that had been in gestation for a long time.
In what way would you say your writing is political?
In a number of ways: to spark a change, in thought, in behaviour; to influence a decision, decision to fight, to love, to feel; as a megaphone for those whose voices have been pressed down by institutionalised systems of oppression, and all they can manage is a whisper – the writing amplifies their voice and puts an exclamation mark behind it; and as a soapbox for speaking back to power.
What are your opinions on religion, especially regarding how it is talked about in African literature?
I think there’s too much deference and not enough defiance, yet. Especially with Christianity. And not enough voices are addressing, in their writing, such issues as patriarchy, physical and sexual abuse, spiritual blackmail, economic exploitation, and sophistry, in religion.
As for African traditional religions, I think they are mostly represented in literature as something exotic or magical, or on the other hand, evil (misrepresentations that have colonial roots, thus perpetuating Western hegemony); there are only a few voices that have been able to explore our traditional religions for their representation of the true African spirit and as the grounded source of an African (spiritual) identity.
I think there’s too much deference and not enough defiance.Olubunmi Familoni
What lesson are you hoping readers will take from your story?
Educate yourself, to resist oppression.
What advice would you give to beginning writers?
Read. When you’re not reading, write (anywhere, everywhere; Twitter, Facebook, blogs, journals, notepads). When you’re not writing, read.