Ufuoma Emerhor-Ashogbon, a.k.a Ufuomaee, is a young professional, a social entrepreneur and the Founder/CEO of Fair Life Africa Foundation, a charity that supports underprivileged children.
She goes by the pen name, Ufuomaee and loves to write and tell stories on her blog, blog.ufuomaee.org. She uses this avenue to share about her faith in God and is known for writing Christian romance fiction, with lots of drama and scandal, that challenges all to think about their lifestyle and choices.
She’s a wife and mother and mentor to many young women.
Below is our interview:
Pelleura: It’s nice to have this chat with you.
Ufuomaee: Thanks for the opportunity
Pelleura: Please can you share details of your background with us?
Ufuomaee: My name is Ufuoma and I was born in Delta State, where I lived with my birth mother until I was six years old. My mother died some years later, but I wasn’t told about it until I was much older. I grew up with my father, step-mom, two younger sisters and a brother. We moved around a lot, first from Palmgroove to settle in Ikoyi. My sisters and I also traveled to England, where we all studied and got degrees. We lost our brother when he was 18, and I had just turned 24, to gun violence and corruption. He died on my birthday. I have twin younger brothers now, and both my sisters are married. I am also married with a child.
Pelleura: What were your dreams like when you were in school?
Ufuomaee: While growing up, I had different dreams and ambitions. I wanted to be famous and successful; as a model, actress, singer, dancer, the works. Writing was a hobby to me, and I never actually saw myself doing that passionately and professionally, though I used to write poetry and tried my hands on some stories. Ultimately, I had the Princess dream; to meet Prince Charming, fall in love and live happily ever after while wanting for nothing.
Pelleura: (smiles.) Truly a Princess’ Dream. Are you full time into the writing business? Or do you have a day job or business, that you run?
Ufuomaee: I think I am now a full-time writer and my other engagements have become side projects. I do have a side business, creating websites and helping newcomers in business getting their online presence going, but it’s slow, and I haven’t been pushing that as much as I’ve been developing my portfolio of literary works. I also run a charity, Fair Life Africa Foundation, which is going well, though we could do with more donors!
Pelleura: Please tell us about your writing and business.
Ufuomaee: Fair Life Africa is a charity I started in 2011 with the support of my father, initially focusing on getting children off the streets, getting them rehabilitated and reconciled with their families. That first initiative received a lot of support and attention, but it was hard to sustain, partly because of how much was required to run the Home and donor fatigue. We amended the programme in 2014 to focus on less fortunate children, who are at risk of dropping out of school and homelessness, to support them through school. We have over 30 kids enrolled in our programme currently, and need more child sponsors to support those on our waiting list.
Ufuomaee Business Solutions is something I started in 2015 when I learned how to create and manage Fair Life Africa’s website. I decided I could offer the same help to other charities and organizations who need an online presence. I pretty much use my IT skills to help others who are clueless about technology and how to make the most of it for their business. Among my clients are Strength Security Ltd, Standard Alliance Properties, JET Recruitment Professionals, Elvira Jude, and Master Moulders International Academy.
My author journey started with blogging in 2012, which I was doing both as a hobby and spiritual exercise. It became a ministry in 2015, and I started writing stories series on my blog in early 2016. My stories drew a lot of traffic to my site and I got lots of great feedback and requests to publish them into books. So, I published my first book, The Church Girl in May 2017, and have been publishing all my other stories, and even created ten compilations of articles, short stories, and poems from my blog and published them on Okadabooks.com. I now have a catalog of 18 published works, including The Church Girl. I am still planning on publishing three more titles before the year is over, by God’s grace.
All my books are available as ebooks, and three; Broken, An Emotional Affair and He Cheated! are also available as audiobooks. I’m in the process of converting all my novels to paperback, via Amazon, and have started with my two latest works, Perfect Love and The House Girl, plus He Cheated! They can be purchased via my Amazon page at amazon.com/author/ufuomaee. The Church Girl is also in paperback and on sale at various stores in Lagos or via www.ufuomaee.org/shop.
Pelleura: Do you think you’d ever take writing as a full-time business?
Ufuomaee: I think it is already, and I want to grow it much bigger. I don’t want to just be a writer or author. I want to produce my works in film too. I want to be like the Tyler Perry of Nigeria, and I am growing my brand a day at a time. I will always do charity too, by the grace of God. And I don’t think I’ll ever stop using my business and IT skills, but maybe when I’m bigger, I’ll have more people employed on my team handling that side of things.
Pelleura: When did you first notice you love to write?
Ufuomaee: When I was younger and loved to write poems. I remember that my friends in school used to ask me to write Valentine’s Day poems for their boy/girlfriends because I was the writer to go to (and romantic).
Pelleura: What inspired you to write your recent novel, “Perfect Love?”
Ufuomaee: I actually bumped into an ex-boyfriend this year, and that set me off! I got the idea pretty much the same day, but I thought it would be indulging in the flesh to try to create a story from that. But the Lord asked me to write the story for Him days later because there are so many lessons there for me and for others. So, I surrendered and wrote the story for ministry. All I had was the first encounter, the rest was my imagination… I haven’t seen or heard from him since.
Pelleura: Awesome! What are the obstacles you’ve faced as a writer and how were you able to overcome them?
Ufuomaee: Self-doubt. GOD! My biggest obstacle is not believing that I am good enough, that I know enough or that I am even liked enough to sell. But God keeps reminding me that I am working for Him and not for anyone else, and if He says I can do it, I can do it. I am qualified because He qualifies me, not because I am such a good person, or that I know so much about marriage or love or even writing. With every story I write, I am always conquering this self-doubt, and also learning a lot about God, His love and myself.
Other obstacles are getting support, through promotion, sales, and reviews. People make a lot of promises and don’t deliver. I really wonder how hard it is to review a book that you said you loved and that changed your life…but till tomorrow, you will still be promising to review. Learning not to depend on others and just rely on God to open doors and make things happen has been one of the things that has kept me sane in this journey.
There was also the time when I tried going with a publisher for The Church Girl and ran into two thieves! I wrote about it on my blog, blog.ufuomaee.org/author-beware
Pelleura: In a country like ours, do you think the government has put in place structures that help small businesses/ full-time writers survive?
Ufuomaee: Not at all. Maybe I am clueless, but I think if they really had such things available, I would know about these opportunities. We know about the charities that are doing good work that Government isn’t doing. The thing is, the Government seems to have their hands full dealing with so many issues in this country, it’s hard to know which to prioritize. They need wisdom.
Pelleura: So what do you think can be done to further help small businesses owners and full-time writers?
Ufuomaee: I was just thinking about this the other day, how there is nothing like AMAZON in Nigeria. I’ve just published three paperbacks with them, and I thought it was sad that Nigerians have to pay an American company to print and deliver a book by a Nigerian author, who is probably their neighbor, and still pay for delivery and wait weeks to receive the said book.
Okadabooks is a really good start for authors by enabling us to produce ebooks for free and make money instantly. But there is still a strong culture for reading physical books and we need something like Amazon, which allows authors to get their books printed, and get paid for each book purchased, without having to worry about how or where to print, and how to push their books out there. Yes, we have traditional publishing, as they still do in the States, but that doesn’t grow a writing culture and it doesn’t really help writers who think and write outside the box to get published and heard.
If Okadabooks could develop an arm for printing hardbacks on demand to support independent authors, that is something that I would personally love to be involved in and support. Because apart from being an author and publishing my own works, I’d like to become a publisher for other authors. Then we can keep the money in our country.
Pelleura: Presently, what are those achievements you’ve made and what future goals are you aiming for?
Ufuomaee: Let’s see, I am an educated woman, with a first class degree in Social Work. A woman who has found her purpose in life and ministry. I am a wife. I am a mother. I run a charity. I run a business. I am a Christian blogger. I am a published author of ebooks, audiobooks, and paperback. I may not have accolades from the world, but whenever I look back at what I’ve done, just on my blog since 2012, I realize that I have CREATED a lot and added value to this world. I am where I am now due to little acts of faithfulness and determination.
My vision, as I said before, is for my stories to become TV shows and films for the Cinemas. For the fame of my stories to exist beyond my land and time. For people, ESPECIALLY CHRISTIANS to be converted and renewed in their thinking about CHRISTIANITY and life. I have lots and lots of stories still to tell, but most of all, I still have a lot of growing up to do in order to write them to the glory of God.
There’s growth happening inside and outside, and it’s exciting and scary. Sometimes I think the demand to grow up internally might result in me not actually achieving all I want to achieve, because I just want to coast without changing too much. But the nature of what I am doing – ministry – demands that I be someone who is reliable and trustworthy to bear the name and authority of God as His Minister.
Pelleura: I really admire that you stick to God and Christianity. So how have you used social media to your advantage?
Ufuomaee: Well, I have a social media account on most platforms, e.g Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Medium. However, I am most active on Instagram these days, and it has been a good platform for me to meet new people and also to be discovered. But it’s really hard to control your reach on social media, even when you do pay for promotions. I used to do that on Facebook and stopped when I stopped seeing economies of scale, but instead diminishing returns! These platforms will charge you so that your sister, who ordinarily would have seen your posts, will see them again, just because they know you are willing and able to pay. It’s mind-boggling. I just do my best with creating and sharing content on a daily basis and being responsive to new enquirers.
Pelleura: What’s the most important social media activity you engage in daily, to grow your reader base?
Ufuomaee: I honestly don’t know. I think the most important activity is actually engaging with others on Instagram, rather than just posting on your platform. When you are interactive, people appreciate you more and may even stop by your page and become followers and maybe even customers.
Pelleura: If you were to do it all over again, would you choose to write romance or any other genres?
Ufuomaee: I didn’t choose romance. Romance choose me. I don’t know if I could write anything else as well. But my newest book, The House Girl, is more drama than romance, unlike The Church Girl.
Pelleura: What advice do you have for other writers running a small business/job?
Ufuomaee: Why do you write? Answer that question, and you will know if you should still write on the side, write full time, or do something else. Writing is a calling, and with the calling comes the talent and lots of inspiration. The reason you write will see you through all the challenges that come with being a writer, including being broke!
Pelleura: Thanks so, so much for your time, Ufuomaee. This interview was really informative for me
Ufuomaee: It has been a real pleasure! Thanks
So, guys, you’ve read it all. You can connect with Ufuomaee via her social handles below: