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The Nigerian president recently appointed Tolu Ogunlesi as his special assistant on digital/new media.

In the midst of the excitement around Ogunlesi’s appointment, everyone seems to have forgotten that Ogunlesi is a fiction writer and a poet. He has come to be known for his journalism, but Ogunlesi published a collection of poetry titled Listen to the Geckos Singing from a Balcony in 2004. His novella titled Conquest and Convivality was published by Hodder and Murray in 2008. His writing alongside that of Chimamanda Adichie and Petina Gappah graced the pages of the now discontinued Farafina Magazine. He even bagged an MFA in creative writing at University of East Anglia.

Ogunlesi’s appointment makes a lot of sense. He has a huge Twitter following. This afforded him the chance to play a pivotal role in the conversations around the 2015 election. Besides, Ogunlesi has, in the past few years, distinguished himself from the radical and stringent political tone of political activists like Omojuwa. He has used his social media influence to build a politically mature and moderate brand for himself. His appointment comes at a time when President Buhari is under pressure to include youthful technocrats in his administration.

Drawing attention to the literary side of Ogunlesi’s history is important. It allows us—the African literary community—to feel invested in his success. It is also a testament to the fact that the skills acquired through fiction writing is multi-dimensional. In many African communities, fiction writing is still viewed suspiciously as a set of non-transferrable skills. What Ogunlesi’s example shows is that a professional life born in fiction writing can lead to all kinds of opportunity.

Sending good vibes Ogunlesi’s way! We wish him all the best.



Image from Tolu Ogunlesi’s facebook page.

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Ainehi Edoro is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she teaches African literature. She received her doctorate at Duke University. She is the founder and editor of Brittle Paper and series editor of Ohio University Press’s Modern African Writer’s imprint.

3 Responses to “From Fiction Writer to Nigeria’s Social Media Czar | Congrats to Tolu Ogunlesi!” Subscribe

  1. Adefemi Adejola February 26, 2016 at 2:46 am #

    Congratulations Ogunlesi on this appointment. Beyond rhetorics, here is a wonderful opportunity to walk the talk and I hope we will have a good report running (fast forward two years running).
    Ainehi, hun.. hardworking Ainehi, do keep up the good work. You are a tremendous inspiration.

  2. Amatesiro Dore February 26, 2016 at 4:37 am #

    “Besides, Ogunlesi has, in the past few years, from the radical and stringent political voices headed by the likes of Omojuwa.”

    “He has used his social media influence to build a politically mature and moderate brand from himself.”

    “Sending good vibes Oguleis’s way.”

    Ainehi, I noticed the above typos in this piece.

    I guess your eyes and fingers are tired much.


    • Ainehi Edoro February 26, 2016 at 6:24 am #

      Ama! Thank you so much. I’ve corrected the errors you pointed out and a few others. The post was actually not even supposed to be posted. Long story. It was still being drafted.

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