If, just like me, you are a young Beninese who spends a great part of their time on social medias ( Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat or even YouTube), then there is a good chance that you’ve already heard about Irawo. If not, it is the kind of media that daily gives us more reasons to be proud of our nationality through the stories of the different Irawos.
It is in 2016,
…almost a year ago, that I discovered Irawo thanks to Mylène Flicka’s status and articles. But at that moment, I was far from imagining how much this media would contribute to the realization of one of my biggest prides. Irawo is in fact a wealth of opportunities. Let me explain why in the rest of the story.
I live in the state of Colorado since almost 2 years now and during my first year here, I must admit, my adaptation was not quite easy. Having spent most of my life in Benin, I had no idea of what was waiting for me in the United States, seen as paradise on Earth. When discussing with some friends, they would often ask me how my adaptation and overall life here was going and as I would answer by explaining my obstacles and cultural shocks, they would mostly end up confused. It was hard for them to realize the intensity of my new battles or to understand how leaving one’s comfort zone could psychologically affect a person.
That is when I got the idea of writing a book,
…an autobiography to be precise. I wanted to share my story, in part to challenge the stereotypes we often have on the West, but also for it, and C. Ebony’s (co-author of Ji Sokeė) to be a moral support for the young Africans who are leaving their cities and countries in order to face the unknown. Through the different subjects we developed, we wanted to show people that although the experiences can be similar, they still are specific to each adventurer. By sharing the lessons we learnt at the end of each trial, our desire was to show others how every challenge can be used as an opportunity of personal growth and achievements. This book is our hope to sharing not only a realistic but also a useful vision of life in the West.
The idea was then there, all that was left was to make it come true. It is at this moment that Irawo made me discover its other ability.
It all started on a Saturday, Saturday May 21st on IrawoTv. I had learnt that the guest of the day would be a coach in self-development. His name was Alexis Deffon and he was the founder of Explonentiel.
At the time I was contacting Alexis to explain the project, I had no idea of how a coach in self-development could help me publish a book. However, I needed another point of view, that of a person who I believed, had been through the experiences I wanted to share. For a reason that I still can’t explain, he took the time to listen to what I had to say and to help me, although this was not his domain of expertise. As time was going by and Ebony and I were working on the first requirements (define and locate our audience, understand the concept of auto-publishing, find a platform, acquire an ISBN number, secure the finances, etc), Alexis showed us his support in several ways.
At first, it was a moral and psychological support that Alexis gave me. When in doubt, while the book was requiring more efforts then I was able to procure, Alexis, trough his words, found the way to reassure and reboost me. When at some point I started focusing on the problems I was facing, he was the one who reminded me the importance of keeping my goals and end results in mind. “Try to replace the obstacles by their solutions, to see the results before seeing the problems.” he told me. Because, as he later explained “It might not seem that important, but it will make a huge difference in the way you face the different twists of the project.” fact that I ended up realizing. But Alexis’ help did not end there. It is actually through the videos he suggested me that I discovered CreateSpace, the platform on which we published our book. His help was also valuable in the choice of the format of our individual parts as well as for that of the cover picture, when making such a choice became a dilemma. From the beginning of the redaction of the book’s manuscript to its end, Alexis was there, as a good mentor to procure me an assistance that I unconsciously needed.
The first step being done, we then had to move to the next one : editing the book. We wanted to self-edit and had actually started doing so. The book was read and corrected, we have chosen its size and its cover, all that was left was the formatting. This task, which seemed to be a simple one, was in fact the one that required the most time and effort.
This time, it was a Tuesday, Tuesday June 28th. The guest on IrawoTv was Marcus Ibuka Ndjoli and the theme? “Write and publish: Marcus da Writer’s experience.” Wonderful! Awesome! * Do the happiness dance*
I was totally excited
…and impatient to hear him out. It was as if Irawo had listened to my silent prayers and decided to make my wishes come true. So, I contacted him and explained the project. It was then, that it all became real. Ibuka made me discover his platform, Kusoma Group, whose mission is to “democratize publishing and writing of African books.” There, services such as the edition, self-edition, publishing, self-publishing, distribution and promotion of African authors’ books are provided, for both paperback and eBook formats. It was perfect!
We therefore sent them our manuscript for a review and it was the beginning of a new adventure. A long and tiring adventure but an amazing experience.
Ibuka was the one who guided me throughout the rest of the process. Being a writer himself and having published a dozen of books, he not only had the expertise but also the resources I needed to produce my first one. His advice were very valuable as they helped me dodge many of the obstacles I would have had to face had I been on my one. Whether it was for the editing, the publishing, the distribution or the marketing, the input of his platform and of himself made a big difference in accomplishing this goal.
From May 2016 to January 2017, it took us 9 months to go from an idea, a dream, to a product, a reality.
Do you now see Irawo’s hidden talent?
One year ago, when I had the idea of the book, I was far from realizing how much the process would be long and at times, painful. I thought it would only take me about 4 to 5 months to make it real. I was pretty naive then and it was once I was facing the different twists and necessities that I understood the amount of work that was awaiting me. But this media, Irawo, was able to put on our road and at the right moment, some of the resources we needed to make it work. It gave me two mentors who’s help was as divers as it as valuable.
Irawo is indeed a wealth of opportunities and as every opportunity, it all comes down to finding it and using it as efficiently as possible.
I can’t finish without a nod and a special thanks to the other people who contributed to the production of Ji Sokeė: Adonis Megnizoun (reading and correction), Denis Dapeu (cover picture), Mylène Flicka (preface) and Fred Datondji (distribution in Benin).
This is it, the story of Ji Sokeė and that of my adventure with Irawo.
Femi Michele Nassi
Ji Sokeė is accessible in both paperback and eBook formats on Amazon.com, Amazon.fr, Amazon Kindle, and in Africa on Kusoma Group. It also is on sale in Benin in numerous libraries such as Notre Dame library of Ganhi, Cash and Carry and Le Rosier libraries of Calavi as well as in Akanga library of Porto-Novo. While only the French version of the book is currently available, we are working toward soon releasing an English version.
Source : Michele Onassi -Femiché