Essay from Chimezie Ihekuna

The Help from where I Least Expected

Chimezie Ihekuna (Mr. Ben) Young Black man standing with his hand on his chin under a shade structure near a building. He's wearing a collared shirt and jeans.
Chimezie Ihekuna

‘’If you’re not a part of my struggle, you can’t be a part of my success’’


‘’Friend, I wish you the very best in your chosen writing endeavor. I’ll give out my very best to support you whenever you need me’’

                                                                August 15, 2006

‘’Congrats! It’s a great feat establishing a career in writing. I’m with you all the way. All the very best!’’

                                                    October 3, 2006

February 8, 2008: ‘’Give me some time to rebrand and re-package my TV program. When completed, I’ll formally invite you on air for an interview. Be rest assured and be patient’’

Six months and a day later…

August 9, 2008 (A Phone call): ‘’Hello Ben, I know you’ve been patient with me all the while. Following me up through regular phone calls to ascertain the progress being made and all of that… However, I regret to inform you that I won’t be able to invite, as promised earlier. I strongly advise you seek another platform to showcase your literary works. Thanks for contacting me, Nigeria’s most revered media personality’’

The first two statements (the ones of August 15 and October 3, 200) were made by friends who were, in my thought, ‘’able to see me through my writing journey’’. In fact, back in school, my colleagues were convinced the friends I had would be instrumental to my being successful in future as an author. I could remember my room-mate say to me: ‘’It’s no doubt that the age-long saying ‘show me your friend and I’ll tell you who you are and if you want to know the you now and then you, in the next five years, status-wise, two things will have to determine that: the  company you keep and the books you’ve read.’ Ben, I know you’ve read quite a number of books. And it’s no surprise you’re embarking on a writing expedition. Of course, you are flanked by friends who are seen as being resourceful and will be helpful to you, now and in the future. From me to you, I wish you all the best!’’

One would think I will be supported, considering how assuring their commitments were. They sounded convincing. But I was in for a shocker!

Just Read!

About two years later…

August 18, 2008

I recorded a phone conversation (text message chat) between the friend whose statement was made on August 15, 2006 and me.

Me: It’s really been a while, friend. So sorry I’ve not been keeping in touch for ages! How are you doing?

Friend: Yea. I’m good. You know, twenty friends can’t be in a place for twenty years. We’ve been through school together and we just have to part ways at some point…which we had done. This is almost two years since we finished school. It’s really been a while, I must agree. How about your writing?

Me: Still on it. Currently trying to get it across to publishers in Lagos and Oyo states… It’s been, so far, a ‘no-no’. I’m not giving up, nonetheless.

Friend: That’s the spirit! I know you for that. You have the never-say-die attitude to life.

Me: Thanks man. What’s up with you now?

Friend: Through my father’s connections in society, I secured on On-air personality job at 92.79FM* in Lagos. I’ve been very busy working with (or should I say for?) this station for about a year now.

Me: Interesting! Will be great if you can invite me for a possible interview…

Friend: Tell me, how many works have you written?

Me: Ten. But still on a look-out for a publisher who will take on the projects

Friend: I’ll see what I can do. But remember it’s just a year is started working with this radio station. But we could still keep in touch with each other over the phone. Let’s keep tabs on each other.

Me: I’ll be waiting. I trust you’ll be instrumental to my success in a not-too-distant future.

Friend: Thanks for believing in me. Will catch up with you later. So, long friend!

Me: Bye for now!

The text messaging ends

For the next six months, I kept calling and texting him on phone. But neither my calls nor texts were returned or replied to. About the same period, I attempted to contact the second person (the one who made the statement on October 3, 2006). Except for the message (as read below), he never, even till this day, replied or returned my calls or text messages. I didn’t even hear from you via social media (Facebook and Twitter)

‘’My father owns a publishing firm. I told him about you. Just give him time. He’ll get back to you. I forwarded your contacts to him. Don’t worry. I’ll update you from time to time.’’

From 2006 and 2009, I struggled in my writing journey, all on my own (in Nigeria, such a state is depicted by the acrostic O.Y.O, which stands for On Your Own). Lagos and other parts of Southwestern Nigeria were places I visited to get the eyes of publishers’ attention. Yet, my efforts ended in wild goose chases!

I gained admission to study Mechanical Engineering at the University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (now the Federal University of Agriculture), Ogun State, Nigeria. It was towards the end of my second semester of my second year that I decided to go fully into writing. Making it a career, in other words. The reason I chose to enroll for Mechanical Engineering is still, to this day, a mystery to me, considering the fact that I saw no ‘future’ in it long before I gained admission and I’d almost silenced the writing gift in me. It was when circumstances beyond my control—irregular financial support, the consequent difficulties in coping academically and poor teaching facilities—to be an author—a long-ago conceived dream.

Having being rejected by over forty publishers in Lagos and Oyo states, I decided to shift my focus online—the use of the internet. Between 2010 to 2013, my online journey into the search of book publishers began. I’d written over twenty manuscripts that cut across several literary genres. I also suffered over a hundred rejections during that period. It never deterred me from forging ahead—finding a home for my works.

The year 2014 remains a red-letter year in my life. It was in that year that my name, that is, my pen name, ‘’Mr. Ben’’, appeared in print! Indeed, it was a dream-come-true experience for me. A period in my life where I could say to me, ‘’I’m a success being a published author!’’ The publication was The World We Live In, a short story collection, published by Taldros Publishing, Lebanon.

Today, I am proudly a published author of several books.  My books can be found at . I’m grateful to the publishers whom made homes for my books, friends (the ones I met online since 2015 and still keep in touch with them) for their support, advice and encouragement.

To Cristina Deptula of Synchchaos Magazine, Dane Zahorsky of Youth Passageways, Kalahari Review, Savant Anthology, Maria Zani, Martino Cruz of The Silentium Project,  Steve Canon (of Blessed Memory) of Gathering of Tribes, Revival Waves of Glory Books and Publishing, Pen It! Publications and many others, I say a ‘big thank you’.

With them, it has been a rewarding journey. I look forward to seeing them being a part of my grand-breaking literary success in future! They have been: ‘’The help from where I least expected!’’

*92.99FM has been changed for privacy reasons.