Efema Chela’s diverse genealogy has worked well for her as she journeys through the world of literati. Born November 16, 1991 in Chikankata, Zambia, she grew up in England, Ghana, Botswana and South Africa, courtesy of parents’ whose work made relocation a constant occurrence. The half Ghanaian, half Zambian graduate of French, Classical Civilisations and Politics from Rhodes University, South Africa has always wanted to be a writer, and what a writer she has become.
One of the new voices, signalling the potency of African literature, and a nominee for the prestigious Caine Prize in 2014, Efemia stated in an interview with CaceAfrica that although she has always been a voracious reader, she was compelled to do heaps of academic writing in the university and subsequently, thought she was incapable of creating ‘stimulating fiction’.
Well, her shortlisted story, ‘Chicken’ should serve as validation of her writing prowess especially as this is her first published work. In her words, “I was also tired of saying I wanted to be a writer, instead of actually doing any writing. I didn’t think it would go anywhere or that my story was particularly noteworthy since it was my first effort. So I was quite surprised at the result.” [Cace Africa.]
‘Chicken’ also won third place in the Short Story Day Africa 2013 competition, “Feast, Famine and Potluck.”
‘Chicken’ is the tale of Kaba, a recent college graduate who struggles to survive in a collapsing system, whilst defying her wealthy parents. She moves to the poorer end of town, takes a position as an unpaid intern at a global firm, considers prostitution, experiments with lesbianism and assuages her guilt by donating her reproductive ovaries.
Her literary influences include, Dorothy Parker, Stephen Fry, Frantz Fanon and Chinua Achebe. Her favourite writers are Margaret Atwood, Martin Amis, Haruki Murakami, Chuck Palahnuik, J.G. Ballard, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Douglas Coupland, Toni Morrison, Ovid, Georges Perec, T.S. Eliot and Slyvia Plath.
Efemia hopes to become the Midwife of great literature. Meaning via an interview with CaceAfrica: that she would be a person who facilitated the creation, publication, marketing of exciting forms of literature. “Things that really challenge readers or give the page over to voices previously silenced or unheard.”
An amateur photographer, Efemia says that she is married to her camera, and together, they make many square children. Her other passion is for all things Japanese- the writings of Kenzaburo Oe, Kazuo Ishiguro, Haruki Murakami and Banana Yoshimoto.
Even as we eagerly expect more literary stunners from this young lady, we learn a lesson or two about doing. Perhaps it’s time to stop talking about what you want to do and actually start doing it. Your results may astound you. So mute the voice of self-doubt, and put your hands to work. you have to believe in yourself to get others to believe in you.