My name is Chiziterem Ndukwe-Nwoke. I am 27 years old. I go by “Chizzy Ndukwe N” because it’s the pen name I settled with from my days writing on Wattpad (2011 to 2014). Yup, I’m a writer…by passion.
I’m Nigerian (born, bred, roots), from the Igbo ethnic group. My father is from Ebem, Ohafia, in Abia State, and my mother is from Amatta, Ikeduru, in Imo State, both sister states in South-Eastern Nigeria. I grew up entirely in Owerri, the capital city of Imo State (attended Nursery School, Kindergarten, Primary School, Secondary School, and University all in Owerri).
I’m not so far-travelled – have only been to 9 states in Nigeria (none in the South West, Yorubaland, so far) – making my true exit from Owerri, at the start of the National Youth Service (a national requirement for every Nigerian school leaver to follow, working in a nation-assigned place of assignment in a city different from where one was brought up, for sake of fostering unity and understanding of cultures, and as a kind of initiation into the labour market), be the advent of my journeys away from home. I live in Abuja (capital city of Nigeria) right now, after having camped in Kebbi in the North, and served in Warri, in the South-South.
If you haven’t guessed by now, I have a growing wanderlust, and would love to keep traveling, keeping a travelogue about my journeys, and generally experience new cultures; food, dance, customs, and language (I already am a developing polyglot, but have only mastered English – my lingua franca – and Igbo – my native tongue – so far; running bits and pieces of Hausa, Yoruba, French, German, Japanese, Italian, Mandarin, and Spanish in daily conversation).
I have a very convoluted description of myself which I developed some 4 years back (2017 – the year I truly begun an innermost authentic “search, find, and express” journey of my true self) which goes like this:
“A passion-driven rebellious African bohemian autodidactic literatus, who can be an arduous maverick sometimes, a bored dilettante at others, and is given to an eternal discovery of God.”
which I think is short for, “I’m weird and I like it.” Hehe.
I’m Christian, but I consider myself very tolerant of other religions and belief systems. I believe belief is *the* most personal property a person possesses, and one should be entirely true to themselves with it, and not doing just because others are, or because they were told to. I also believe that no two persons can have an exact belief system. This buttresses the importance for me to be completely tolerant of others. I’m also a believer in the perfect unison of scientific discoveries and biblical accounts of things. I am not dogmatic, nor follow any laid down culture-driven doctrine as law. I simply have faith in, love and worship the Christian God, and work/read to understand God, existence, and the cosmos better.
I’m one of those few people who embraces the nerd and geek identity so much that they make it sexy as hell. Because I believe authenticity, emotional health, mental health, and balance are the purest pursuits any human can ever have. As you can also guess, my Social Quotient was the last of my “Quotients” to begin developing….and truly started in the year, you guessed it, 2017.
I go by “tukobos” on Twitter. The etymology of the name itself is a testimony to my thinking patterns and my personality. I tweeted it one time, like this:
“I gave my two cents”
Cent=American coin money
Kobo=Nigerian coin money
“I gave my two kobos”
“Two” = /tu/ (IPA phonetics)
“I gave my tu kobos”
A person with opinions
A person with opinions on a lot of things
Basically, a thinker
Career-wise, I’m a business development executive, having begun my journey into business development right after the National Youth Service (NYSC) as a procurements manager for a start up (FJ Services) with a friend for a year, the head of programs for a 5-year old business and projects ideation company (Ideosphere) for a year, and the ED, Operations for another start-up of a former boss’ (Still Wind) for 6 months. It is the truest manifestation of my penchants for writing, for meticulousness, and for grabbing knowledge (I call myself a knowledge hound; I’m low-key Jack..yup, that one of all trades; but I’m a master of creative and business writing though). I’m currently open for employment and seriously looking.
I plan to retire into creative writing before I’m forty. That has always been the dream. With my legacy project as the non-profit for emerging writers I founded (now in hiatus for financial reasons) in my final year in the university, called “Route Africa”.
It’s a long introduction, but I guess that’s the cliff notes version of this man called Chizzy.
What Inspires You Every Day?
To be very honest, this has been one of the most difficult questions I’ve had to answer in my life; not because there isn’t any, or I cannot point them out, but rather because, where do I start from?
The thing that gives me the most fulfilment in life is when I can look to my left or right and find someone who can point to me and say, “I was going through a rough time, and he came through for me.”
I do not even desire to come through from financial means, as much as that too gives me pleasure. I want to be appreciated…(I don’t care so much if it is what I’m known for, but I value that individual person-to-person-based acknowledgement; the recipient does not need to announce it even)…appreciated as a giver, and not a philanthropist. A giver gives words, gives hugs, gives wisdom, gives testimonies, experiences, loving counsel, time…and money. A philanthropist offers financial aid for a humanitarian cause.
I am inspired by people who share this passion with me. People who give. Once I spot a genuine story of a person who gave, and others were blessed by it, it gives me encouragement to want to better myself so that I can give more.
My favourite set of givers are writers (obviously). It takes a lot to be able to process one’s experience (personal, by proxy, or indirectly), articulate it, find the courage to pen it down, and find the even greater courage to put it out there. Writers aren’t writing to tell you what is good or bad, or which way to follow. We leave that for holy books and preachers.
Writers make you feel through words; inspire through words; create relatability through words – including some academic and business writing – and can have you “become” through words.
Is there any gift greater than strong inspiration to form and reform desired character?
This inspires me….and so, when I read books or articles or watch movies (I do both a lot), I peer deeper than the obvious, and imagine myself as the creators of those masterpieces, and in doing so, I feel invigorated to create and “unleash” mine, within the conditions of my immediate realities.
What is some words of wisdom you live by?
Hmm…okay. I don’t so much keep records of this, but there are few. I’ll just list them in quotes. Many will be paraphrases of popular quotes, some will be mine, and I may not be able to cite their original sayers:
“Do to others, as you want to be done to you.”
“If you want something, go for it.”
“If you keep doing the same thing the same way and expect different results, you are either mad or completely unsalvageable.”
“Success is not an end point where you win and that’s it. That is magnificently unattainable. Success is not a state. Success is a path. And the truest nature
of that path is not the moments of wins; those are part of it, and are joyous respites that feel nice and encourages; but the defining parts of success are the moments when you fail less with each new try. That is true success.” (I came up with this one; helps me deal with disappointment a lot. Also leads me to the next one).
“Never let fear stop you from trying. It’s better to say, “I tried it and it didn’t work and I’m trying something else”, than to remain in that endless whirlpool of, “what if?””
(And also this)
“Fear should remain in your head as caution, and must not be let into our heart. Fear in one’s heart expresses itself only as crippling cynicism – the worst form of pessimism. It hinders. The only time this type of fear is useful is in fight or-flight situations. Aside that, fear must remain in your head as caution. Because caution admits forward motion. Cynicism doesn’t.”
As I answer this, I’m realizing there are many others, lol, but I guess I’ve said the ones at the foremost of my mind that guides me every day. Perhaps, one last one is this:
“Nobody is perfect. Accept this. It will help you navigate humanity better. At the same time, nobility is found in working every day to become perfect. Yes, it is a state that can never be attained, but each day you put in the work to be kinder in your dealings, more assertive in your actions, more honest in your activities, and knowing and being true to your value systems, you find that you approach closer and closer to inner peace. Don’t rest on “nobody is perfect” and remain a nuisance. Nobody likes a nuisance. People would rather tolerate you than enjoy you, even (especially) the ones that genuinely love you. And that is not fair on them.”
What is Your Ultimate Goal in Life?
I’ve mentioned this a little when I was introducing myself, and when I talked about what inspires me. Maybe I can elaborate a little.
I read Petroleum Engineering in school….yes, I’m an Engineer, by degree. Crazy, right? But I would not have if I lived in a country where someone with a budding future as a writer can go to college, major in something akin to literature and come out with hopes of getting a good and well-paying job. The choice of Petroleum Engineering became entirely money-driven for me. Through my 5 years in university, I remained a writer, and in that time, gradually, I found other passionate and creative writers around me, from my department, to my faculty, and then to the entire school.
We were all displaced fishes in a kettle.
Remember what I said about what inspires me? The giving of substance?
I realized I could give, and so I did. I pushed to create a writers club in a school of science and technology where these displaced souls could find fresh air and be themselves, and did so. I picked up and honed writers and held events – book readings, contests and workshops – to the effect. I eventually expanded the reach beyond my university. At that point, the club had become a multi-collegiate non-profit organization.
Suddenly, I found my legacy. And when I am in a good financial and social position to pull Route Africa out of hiatus, I definitely am going to do that.
Personally, my ultimate goal in life is to find a life partner who loves me as much as I love her (I don’t care if she’s Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa, South African, or Austrian), raise healthy children, body, heart, mind, soul, and spirit as a family, and die before I’m a hundred as a happy man.
How Have You Been During the Pandemic, and How Has It Affected You?
It has been tough. The pandemic, by reported numbers, did not hit Nigeria as hard…which still surprises everyone till today, as Nigeria is the 9th most populous country in the world!
The economy was severely hit, and the country seems not to have a cogent recovery plan up till now. Inflation rates are so high, and a lot of persons lost their jobs. This fueled the booming migration of the Nigerian youth population to trading cryptocurrency (Nigeria has one of the world’s biggest pool of crypto users) and divesting their passions using the digital space, especially an increase in freelance gigs.
Personally, the pandemic hit me so hard that I am currently facing the worst financial time in my life, expectant for a breakthrough through any of the multiple seeds I’ve sown out there. The company I was working for before COVID-19 was already having struggles with salary payments, and right when we were about securing a new client in a government ministry, the Nigerian government issued a lockdown, and the nature of our business with the new client could not thrive with the lockdown. It went downhill from there.
Eventually, out of a mixture of frustration and seeking new avenues, I left the company in September, and tried the startup I mentioned before (alongside a lot of menial side gigs that involved my writing, communication and business planning skills).
I currently am still hopeful, despite the dread. And I haven’t seen any member of my family (except my junior brother who visited one time) yet. I miss them so much. They are all the way in Owerri (brother is currently in Lagos).
The vaccines are helping. There isn’t a lockdown now (although, after the recent outbreak in India, there is word for a new lockdown, as the stubborn strain in India has reportedly been found in Nigeria as well).
I am a person of faith. My life and success is in the hands of God. I trust Him. I am also grateful to Him that no member of my family has lost their lives due to COVID. When I see what’s happening out there, it makes me grateful even further.
What is a Message You Would Like to Give Others?
Stay strong. Don’t fret. Everything is going to be alright. There is light at the end of the tunnel. You have to remember tunnels you’ve escaped from before now to know that whatever issues you are going through now – financial, health, mental, emotional, et cetera – is just for a while.
Stay strong. And remember to always be kind to others.
And, travel more, yo! Travel and mix.
What Else Would You Like to Tell Others About Your Life?
I’ve divulged sooo much already. Lol. Could there be more? Well, yeah, hobbies and stuff I ship. Hehe.
I love football (soccer), and am an Arsenal fan…not as devout as I used to be back in the 2000s, but I think my love (ironically, as we’ve had the shittiest season in 16 years this ongoing season) may be returning.
I am a Potterhead, through and through. I live in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I’m a Gryffindor. My Patronus is a Bull. My boggart turns to torn pieces of work I’ve written with my sweat. I was a student of Hogwarts, with a one year student exchange at Ougadou. Right now, I work at the African Ministry for Magic, in the Department of Magical Mysteries. Hermoine Granger, the new Minister for Magic in England is my research partner. It’s fun casting spells without need for a wand. Lool
I also am in deep love with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with the Star Wars Universe and the Middle-Earth universe.
I think “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen is the greatest song ever written and performed on planet Earth.
I play the guitar, the piano, sing and dance in my spare time. Cheerio!
And, thanks for having me, PGlob. It was my pleasure.