Sanya was inspired by an unrelated academic research; An Interview With Oyin Olugbile by Haneefah Abdulrahman

Oyindamola A. Olugbile is a distinguished certified management consultant and accomplished business development professional renowned for her expertise in corporate strategy and process design. As the visionary CEO & Founder of On-Moms Ltd, she is at the forefront of a groundbreaking initiative that empowers stay-at-home moms to achieve financial independence and work-life balance. With a Master of Science degree in Leadership and Development from King’s College London, Oyindamola’s academic foundation is complemented by a Certificate in Public Leadership and Policy from the School of Politics, Policy and Governance in Nigeria. Her commitment to continuous learning is evident in her completion of esteemed courses in strategy, leadership, and entrepreneurship from prestigious institutions such as Harvard Business School and Lagos Business School.

Oyindamola’s career trajectory has been marked by meaningful contributions to both the nonprofit and corporate sectors. Her dedication to social impact led her to collaborate with prominent organizations in Nigeria, including the Stop Scan Foundation, Eve Global Foundation, and Excel Charity Foundation. In these roles, she orchestrated fundraising strategies, led program operations, and adeptly managed project and human resources. Her corporate experience shines through her tenure as the Head of Corporate Communications at Genesis Studios, where she was responsible for corporate communications and branding initiatives while spearheading corporate social responsibility endeavors. Also, Oyindamola’s multifaceted talents extend beyond the boardroom. As an accomplished author, she co-authored “The Road to Good Governance in Nigeria & Africa” and penned her own work of fiction, “SANYA.” She is a recognized leader in her sphere, boasting membership in the prestigious Nigerian Leadership Initiative as an alumnus and achieving accreditation as a member of the International Council of Management Consulting Institutes. Currently, she serves as an Associate Fellow at the African Leadership Center, where her efforts revolve around extensive research and learning on peace, security, and development in Africa. Additionally, she is the co-founder and chief curator of the Experience Factory, a pioneering social enterprise that provides unconventional educational experiences for Nigerian youth. In her capacity as a board member of Unveiling Africa, she remains dedicated to fostering leadership opportunities for the continent’s vibrant youth.

Oyindamola’s unwavering commitment to creating a positive impact in her community and beyond underscores her status as a true force for change. Her innovative thinking, dynamic leadership, and extensive experience serve as an inspiration to aspiring professionals and changemakers worldwide.

Haneefah: It’s a pleasure to have you on LITVO Journal. You confirmed that your debut novel, SANYA was inspired by an unrelated academic research you were doing and the research somehow made you realise that there are things that did not add up in the story of the god Sango. Tell us more about the journey of this research and those things you felt did not add up in the history of the god Sango that made you create the book SANYA ?

Oyin: Absolutely, my journey of research led me to uncover inconsistencies in the story of the god Sango. These discrepancies inspired me to create “SANYA,” my debut novel. It was fascinating to explore how these gaps in the historical narrative sparked the creation of a new fictional world.

Haneefah: The protagonist in SANYA is a female named Sanya. You decided to use a female to tell a story inspired by a male god, Sango. Should we consider this decision to have been taken from the feminist instinct?  Do you not think that you would be considered a Rebel by the Patriarchs?

Oyin : Using a female protagonist like Sanya to tell a story inspired by a male god, Sango, wasn’t driven solely by a feminist instinct. Rather, it was a creative decision to offer a fresh perspective. While it might challenge traditional views, I believe storytelling can evolve without necessarily positioning me as a rebel against patriarchy.

Haneefah : In Chapter 6 of  SANYA, the character, Sanya, said, ” I don’t even see what’s so exciting about bleeding monthly, it’s messy and a bother. What kind of silky idea was it to make women suffer through that?” Do you think nature treats women unfairly?

Oyin:  Nature’s treatment of women, including aspects like menstruation, is a topic of debate. Sanya’s perspective in the novel is one viewpoint, but it doesn’t represent a definitive stance on the matter. Nature’s design can be interpreted in various ways, and discussions around gender and fairness remain complex.

Haneefah : In SANYA, Sanya protected Dada from bullies like Ropo and his friends. She always fought for him but he began to feel like it was demeaning for him? Can Dada be considered a symbol of men who feel inferior when a woman tries to protect them?

Oyin:  Dada’s reaction to Sanya’s protection speaks to the complexities of gender dynamics. While some individuals might feel uncomfortable when traditional roles are reversed, Dada’s experience isn’t a universal symbol. It does, however, reflect the nuances in how people perceive power dynamics and societal expectations.

Haneefah: SANYA reminds me of the movie, THE WOMAN KING. Sanya couldn’t get married nor have a free love life  because she was the King of Oluji, who disguised as a man. While in THE WOMAN KING, the warrior women were forbidden from even having a love life. Do you think they could as well have a normal life while reaching those feats?

Oyin:  Both “SANYA” and “THE WOMAN KING” touch on societal constraints faced by strong women. While they achieved remarkable feats, it’s valid to question if such women could have pursued both their ambitions and a more typical life. Balancing extraordinary achievements with personal desires can indeed be a complex challenge.

Haneefah: I admire authors who make their characters as human as possible because it makes it closer to reality.   . The portrayal of  Sanya’s flaws like the time she went back on her words  to Dada and disgraced him publicly in Banire by taking over his kingdom, the times she brags about she being his protector which were part of what led to her downfall reminds me  of the characters we find in Shakespearean Tragedic Plays. How essential are flaws to existence considering how you used them in SANYA?

Oyin: Flaws are essential to making characters relatable and genuine. In “SANYA,” Sanya’s flaws contributed to her downfall, echoing the tragic themes found in Shakespearean plays. Imperfections make characters human and can serve as cautionary reminders of the consequences of their actions.

Haneefah: One of Sanya’s flaws is thirst for more power which was sensed by Oya when she took Sanya to the land of the Orisas, she even killed Osuntoke so she doesn’t reveal that she wasn’t Bade but Sanya. Can you say, Sanya is a reflection of all humans or just certain people who are not contented but want more when they get in power?  How toxic can people get when it comes to power?

Oyin:  Sanya’s thirst for power in “SANYA” can be seen as a reflection of human nature, as the desire for power isn’t limited to a specific group. The novel explores the toxic potential of unchecked power, showcasing how individuals can be consumed by it and make destructive choices.

Haneefah: Sanya pushed Dada to align with Esu (after she humiliated him in Banire) which led to the awakening of his dark magic thus the dark magic became the only tool he depended on to defeat Sanya. Does this depict that evil is usually awakened by humans and situations?

Oyin:  “SANYA” illustrates the potential for evil to be awakened by certain circumstances and human choices. The story highlights how actions driven by power and ambition can lead to unforeseen consequences, ultimately transforming individuals in unexpected ways.

Haneefah : Osoosi ‘s loyalty and love  for  Sanya is hypocritical which perhaps is part of what led to her downfall. He disapproved of some of the things she did like killing Osuntoke, taking over Dada’s throne but never told her. Another instance is the fact it was later revealed that he had feelings for Sanya but he didn’t say anything when she was almost married off to the braggart in Aromire. Can love and loyalty be that strong to a fault? What’s the purpose of such love and loyalty?

Oyin:  Osoosi’s complex loyalty and love for Sanya underscore the intricate nature of relationships. While deep loyalty can be admirable, it can also become detrimental when it prevents addressing uncomfortable truths or pursuing personal growth. The purpose of such intense loyalty can vary, from genuine care to fear of change.

Haneefah: Is your book, SANYA serving the purpose you envisioned it to serve when you set out to write it?

Oyin: “SANYA” serves the purpose of exploring a unique perspective on mythology and questioning established narratives. It invites readers to reflect on power, identity, and the consequences of one’s choices, aligning with the goals I envisioned while writing it.

Haneefah: To readers, a story begins from the title and the book cover. SANYA has one of the best book covers I have seen around.  How did you feel when Masobe released the book cover?

Oyin:  Seeing the captivating book cover for “SANYA” was an incredibly exciting moment. It visually captured the essence of the story and brought the characters to life. Masobe’s artwork added a new layer of depth to the book and elevated its overall presentation.

Haneefah: After reading SANYA, I told my brother that I want to see the movie. He asked if it has a movie adaptation and I said, “No but a book this good should have a movie adaptation.” Do you see a movie adaptation of SANYA in future?

Oyin: While there’s no movie adaptation of “SANYA” at the moment, I appreciate your enthusiasm for the idea. It would be fantastic to see the story on the big screen someday, but as of now, I’m focusing on other creative endeavors.

Haneefah: When did you first put pen to paper? What was the experience like?

Oyin:  I started putting pen to paper years ago, and the experience was both exhilarating and challenging. It allowed me to explore my imagination and convey thoughts in a way that spoken words couldn’t fully capture. The process of translating ideas into written words was a journey of self-discovery.

Haneefah: What does writing mean to you?

Oyin: Writing, to me, is a means of expression and exploration. It’s a way to delve into diverse worlds, perspectives, and emotions. Writing provides a creative outlet to share stories, provoke thought, and connect with readers on a profound level.

Haneefah: In SANYA, the book ended with the death of Sanya in the mortal world and the beginning of Dada’s tyranny as a Sorcerer King. Are you working on perhaps, the second part of the novel or are you working on something entirely new? Tell us a bit about it.

Oyin:  While I can’t reveal specific details, I am indeed working on new projects. They may include continuations of existing stories or entirely fresh narratives. Stay tuned for more updates on what’s next!


Haneefah Abdulrahman is a writer, interviewer, spoken poetry artiste and podcaster from Nigeria whose work has appeared in Nigerian Review, Wisprout Project, Arts MuseFair, and elsewhere. She is a 2021 fellow of Ebedi International Writers Residency, a Pioneer fellow of Imodoye Writers’ Residency, and she was a Columnist at DailyTrust Newspaper. She is the Author of Shades of Becoming. She is the 2021 Winner of The Arewa Rising Literary Star. Born in Kaduna, Haneefah is an indigene of Kogi State. She is a student of English Literature at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. She is the Chairperson of the Kaduna Branch, Hill-Top Creative Arts Foundation, the 2021/ 2022 Chairperson of the Creative Writers Club, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria – Nigeria, the Editor-in-Chief of Literature Voices (LITVO) and the Editorial Assistant of the Moveee Magazine.