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Growing up in the dusty streets of Etwawa township, in the East Rand, Njabulo Mabanga was faced with many challenges and being raised by an unemployed single mother with seven siblings made things especially difficult. However, Mabanga's resilience and motivation to succeed could never be deterred by his situation.
Despite all the hardships, after completing high school, through the National Financial Student Aid Scheme (NFSAS), Mabanga enrolled for a BA degree in communications with a focus on psychology and philosophy. With a degree he was able to find employment and provide for his family, which to him meant the world.
Being a timid child, who believed that because of his situation at home his opinion wouldn’t matter, he began writing and that is where he found freedom to express his emotions and views, that is where his journey to being an author began.
I interviewed Mabanga and this is what he had to say about his journey:
Tell me about yourself?
I am from Ekurhuleni, an area called Barcelona, located at Etwatwa. I grew up there and my family still resides there. I hold a BA degree in Audiovisual Communications on which I also majored in Psychology, Communications, and Philosophy. Which I think it is that background that fundamentally guides the kind of content I usually write about. So, both the psychology and philosophy disciplines play a massive role in the direction I take regarding not just my books but my blog as well.
When did you first realise your passion for writing?
I think it has always been innately there but, sometimes as people we ignore or do not realise our strengths or talents on earlier years maybe because we aren’t given platforms to utilise them, or we just take them for granted as we get distracted by other things.
So, the initial realisation came after I wrote a film script that came top of the class in the audiovisual communications course I studied. Furthermore, as I was working, some of my colleagues used to come up to me when drafting emails or any other written content to help them or structure their messages. That was also one of the signs that made me realise, that – okay maybe I need to focus my energy more on writing and take it more serious. From thereon, I created my blog and started writing.
What was most astounding was that I discovered that I was able to evoke the intended emotion on the reader, meaning that I could convey my message clearly and concisely as I intended it to be – that was also one of the primary motivators to write more and express myself more in written word, and that passion grew and continues to grow today.
Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
With my educational background in Psychology, I think it has made me to be more aware of the social and cognitive behaviours of individuals, as such; the content I write about usually is from the observation of people around me, and therefore I interpret their motivations or reasons for a certain behaviour they portray or even how they engage with other people, and then do research about what I gather. My books are non-fiction books, as such research is a non-negotiable element in my writing.
Ideas can literally come from anything, even a slight conversation with an individual or even a just a mere observation can be content for either my books or blog. Also, my experience gives me ideas for the books. I mean, there are a lot of things we can share amongst each other and if there is an experience, I feel worthy of sharing with the next person, it gets onto paper. Hence, people shall be careful around me because hey they might feature on my next book, lol.
Why do you self-publish your books, and what advice would you give to writers wanting to take the self-publishing route?
I prefer self-publishing fundamentally because I like to control my creativity and my overall work. Owning 100% of my IP and royalties is also a huge motivator. Also, being published by the big publishing companies is not easy, and it is also not a guarantee that your book will do well.
We live in a digital age, where a middle man is slowly and surely becoming unnecessary, we have the direct to consumer privilege that those before us never had, and for me, I believe the world now is on the side of creatives or artists - an artist can independently produce, market, and sell their own work while getting the rewards their work is worth and get to own their IP, and that on its own is a huge reason for people to self-publish.
For those who would like to self-publish, I would advise them to do research as we live in an information age. Information is out there, and you can actually succeed as much on your own as you could’ve if you were published by a third party.
There are also numerous platforms, free platforms that can showcase your work to millions of audiences or potential readers around the world.
In my journey so far, I have received quite a lot of questions from fellow young authors who would like to get started or would like to publish their books but do not know where to begin, which made me to start a venture that helps authors who would like to self-publish. I assist them from the actual writing up to the promotion of their self-published books. The platform is called Titanium Press, which can be found on Facebook.
Tell me about your new book titled Stop Being A Nice Guy. To be more specific, why did you choose this title, is it because of personal experiences?
Is it partly from personal experience and also from being observant of the people around. So, how it came about, I saw a lot of people complaining about their kindness was being taken advantage of, how being nice has been bad for them, or they don’t get reciprocation for their niceness etc. Which is somewhat an experience I share.
I then briefly researched this. I literally went on Twitter and searched “tired of being nice” or “no more my nice guy”. I was shocked at the number of people that were complaining about how being nice is actually bad for them and in fact; people use them, underestimate them, get seen as no threat, and generally aren’t taken serious. This was evidence that proved that being too nice is not as good as it is always portrayed. Then Stop Being A Nice Guy was born.
I am now working on a new book titled Too Smart To Stay Broke. It also contains priceless value and will be released this year.
Do you get feedback from your readers?
Yes, I do get feedback from my readers and so far it has been quite positive. A lot of the readers relate to the ideas and the overall content I write about. For me, that is also what makes me continue doing what I enjoy. Giving valuable content to an individual has been of paramount importance and that is what I pride myself most about. I always say when people buy my books, they aren’t just buying written words but value, a lifelong lesson which can even be passed onto the next generations. Some feedback is on my website.
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