Sentinel Poetry Magazine January 2003
Nnorom: When you talk about protecting your relatives in Egypt and Sudan, what exactly are you talking about? How will people's relationship with you endanger them? Conversation continues >>>
Kola: Gamal Ibrahaim (a Sudanese diplomat) and Hassan Turabi (a leader of the NIF) have both told me that I am going to be killed, because of my work and because of my statements about the government of Sudan and about the religion of ISLAM (which I was born into). These men called it "a fatwa". That was their word, not mine. Others related to me, my father's Arab Muslim brothers, for instance, have been beaten and unfairly arrested just for being related to us. That's what I mean.
Nnorom: So then, let's talk about how you came to be a writer. Tell me about your academic background - Which institutions did you attend? What courses did you take and do you have any qualifications? - not that this matters if you don't - look at William Shakespeare.
Kola: I did not attend any institutions. In 1995, I left the United States and returned to North Africa -
Nnorom: What the hell are you talking about? You were raised in Washington, D.C. by your adoptive parents, in the United States of America, in the 20th century, is that right? Do you want to tell me these people failed to send you to school? I find this totally hard to believe -
Kola: But I have 8 siblings in my adoptive family. Many of them still live in Washington, D.C. Why would I be stupid enough to give a terrorist the information that it takes to hunt my family in lieu of not being able to track me myself? Why would I give this kind of information if I'm being careful not to get tracked down and killed?
Nnorom: Well then, it is not that you did not attend any institutions but you would rather not tell to protect your family. It still does not add up. You really think it is fair to offer your readers half-truths, selected truths, or the feigning of lack of knowledge of your early life, which in fact you do talk about? In "Diary Of A Lost Girl", you talk about being taught a foreign language and other things. Part of what we expect from a writer is the pursuit of truth. Why do you ignore or fail to find out the complete truth about yourself if your life must be the subject of your writing?
Kola: My readers are offered whatever it is that I am willing to give--they can take it or leave it. No writer is more truthful than I am. NOT ONE. But I'm also wise enough to know that the truth, more often than not, is not good enough. The truth has to be told in a certain way...before it's worth a damn.
Nnorom: Do you take your readers and critics for granted?
Kola: No. I think that my readers and critics take the circumstances of MY LIFE for granted. I think my readers and critics live in cushy, comfortable worlds where they fail to realize that I am dirt poor, the mother of two small sons who depend on me to protect them from outsiders, and at the same time, draw attention to her work so that they may eat from that work. I still don't make enough money to feed my children. At the same time, I am risking my life and the lives of my children to help liberate the lives of millions of other children. I am the one being taken for granted.
Nnorom: Nobody is taking you for granted, they want to know you are not some hoax. When I first read your stuff on the Internet and read your profile, especially the story of how your grandmother gave you up for adoption on the basis of your dark skin, I wanted to know more. But the more I read about you, the less I knew and the more fictitious your life seemed. You claim to be a movie buff. Tell me, do you ever care about a character that has not been fully developed? You are a character in our world's social stage and if we must care about your life and about what you do, your story must be complete and provable. We are seeing how you think, that takes care of the psychology, we have seen how you look, physiology, but where there is a big hole is in your sociology, which together with the physiology shape your psychology. You are like a character that has not fully evolved in a play or film and without the whole story, why should anybody care about you? Why?
Kola: I dare any Black woman to try not to care about me. Lets see how far she gets. And as for the rest of your question...it takes decades for a complete person to emerge. I'm only 33, right? Isn't that question more appropriate for when I'm 70? I think so, but then again, I don't expect I'll be alive to see 70. People should just take Kola Boof with a grain of salt and know one thing...I am Africa. I want my Black children. I want them born healthy and whole. I curse anything and anyone that is against them. And the problem with a Kola Boof curse...is that God carries mine out.