‘GLOBAL GOOD’ EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW SERIES BY TANITH HARDING
WORDS WITH EDEN
A CONVERSATION WITH EDEN BENIBO
Eden Benibo is a writer, story teller and thought leader with an undiluted passion for impacting her world positively via words. Her life is guided by the principle that ‘change is not just a part of life, change is life itself ’. She has won various awards which include: The Escape Award, The Elite Writers Award (twice) and The Superwoman Under30 Award. She has also been a nominee of The Creative Africans Award, London, and is currently CEO of Hello ICON Magazine which is a digital space where art nurtures, empowers and creates global connections beyond all racial, gender, religious, age and ideological differences. Additionally she was recently made an Ambassador for the World Literacy Foundation 2021 and selected to judge The Queen's Commonwealth Essay Competition 2021.
Tanith: Eden you have achieved so much in such a short time, but what was life for you like growing up in Nigeria?
Eden: Growing up in Nigeria for me was a mixture of so many phases boxed up in a single childhood experience, and I know this is part of what shaped who I am. The good phase. The tough phase. But all taught me strength and resilience among other things.
As a child, so many days I had to place my head and tiny hands on our window, to watch other children play outside. My mum was protective of me because I am an only child, but gradually, she loosened up. As I grew, I began to learn that one doesn't have to be blood related to become family. In the area of Lagos Nigeria where I grew up, children moved from being friends to becoming siblings. Childhood days were beautiful especially having friends turned siblings to play and laugh with. Almost everyone who grew up in Nigeria has a story of strength and resilience to tell. This is just a glimpse of my childhood days and truth.
Tanith: Your love for writing and poetry have driven you to want to do good in the world and I know you’re passionate about changing the narrative particularly for young people in Africa - what’s the message and why?
Eden: I believe change begins from within, and true change is always an inside out experience. As a writer and poet, regardless of the tendencies to talk about diverse social issues, my message always revolves around two things Positivity & Correcting Faculty Orientations.
My message is all about - “unboxing." An average young person in Africa is exposed to much weight and burden, both mentally and otherwise. From issues of corruption, tribalism, religious crisis, to fighting for survival with little or no 'social support.' The negativities around us can get so intense. This is what brings me to the theme of positivity in every message I "preach." Two wrongs cannot make a right and darkness will only birth darkness, so rather than leave my readers in their negativities, I write to uplift. To leave a light "at the end of the tunnel." Because even for writers, it's easy to get carried away by the situations and problems we crave solutions for. I consciously try to leave a light of positivity without deviating from the truth.
The issues of tribalism, religious wars and bad leadership in Africa has its roots in our faulty orientations. So, my message also consciously tries to correct these through the help of relatable storytelling and simply sharing truths hidden beneath poetic words. Finally, the word 'unbox' is deep, wide and boundless. It's about bringing out gifts we carry within, walking away from self pity. It's knowing that we are all that we have. Imagine an Africa with Africans who have refined mindsets beyond the negativities around us. Imagine an Africa where everyone focuses on what to give from 'inside out' rather than only receive. Imagine an Africa where our gifts, dreams, and passions sincerely have breathing spaces to grow. To thrive. 103 AWARENOW / THE UNITED EDITION