Bukola Oriola

Bukola Oriola
I Declare Gratitude

Bukola Oriola is an international and public speaker, author, mentor, advocate, entrepreneur, and former member of the U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking. Appointed by President Barack Obama in December 2015 and reappointed by Present Donald Trump in 2018, Oriola is also an award-winning journalist and a survivor of labor trafficking.

She is the founder of The Enitan Story, advocating for victims and empowering survivors of human trafficking. She also mentors others through book publishing.

1. Tell us about the featured book. What is it about, and why did you choose to write this story?

The featured book, “I Declare: Gratitude” is a motivational book for families and friends. Co-workers can also use it to keep a gratitude journal or lead a life of gratitude. I chose to feature this book, especially during this time that we are all faced with a world pandemic. Many people have lost loved ones or are unable to be with a loved one who is sick or died a natural death due to the pandemic. Many have lost their jobs while others, regarded as essential workers, are overworked. As a result, it is easy to focus on all the negativity. “I Declare: Gratitude” was further expanded this spring to include “I Declare: Gratitude Journal” and a “Gratitude Support Activity (GSA) Booklet” that anyone can use as an individual or a group in both formal and informal settings. Since the pandemic, my organization, The Enitan Story has been using it to help our clients stay grounded during these uncertain times. I hope that Anoka County residents can benefit from the book.

2. Tell us a little about your writing process. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

Currently, I am an author of 10 books and one magazine. Two of my books are memoirs and even so, I learned a little more about the subject that related to my memoir. The first book, “Imprisoned: The Travails of a Trafficked Victim” featured the layman’s definition of what human trafficking is for someone who does not know. When a second edition was published, I listened to feedback from readers to draft questions to help them think of creative ways of finding solution to the problem rather than just getting angry.

Some of my books come to me as inspiration. The I Declare Series is one of those. I published “I Declare: Beauty and Wellness Affirmations” which came to me as an inspiration during a 21-day Daniel fast that I embarked upon in 2017. Then last year, “I Declare: Gratitude” came to me during a workshop in Lacrosse, Wisconsin. I published a book on hair braiding which featured some of my practical experiences with braiding as a teaching tool. However, when I was doing the book, I went to borrow books from the library and also did some research online to learn more about how hair braiding came about. I was pleasantly surprised to learn during my research that hair braiding is popular among the Asians. I published a book on social media and websites, which needed to be updated often due to the continuous change in the way social media and websites work.

I will say that my writing process depends on what kind of book I am working on. In some books, I work on inspiration, in others, I read other books, research on the internet or interview others. Plus, I also publish teaching materials from my practical experiences.

3. What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

The most difficult part is marketing. As an author, I cannot do enough marketing to help readers know the value in the books. So, opportunities such as the Anoka County Local Author’s event is a blessing.

4. How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

Publishing my first book did not only change my writing process, it also changed my reading and the way I look at books. When I see a book, I don’t just read anymore, rather, I am looking at the formatting, font style, book size, choice of color, cover and so on.

5. Are there any writers or authors who have influenced your writing? If not, who are some of your favorite writers?

Dr. David Oyedepo is one of the authors who have greatly influenced my writing. I have at least 18 titles from him on my bookshelf. He is the author with the most books on my bookshelf.

6. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

I currently have 3 unpublished and half-finished books.

7. What does literary success look like to you?

I will be very honest here, maybe too honest. For me, it means two things – readers gain value from my literary work and I make money from my literary work.

8. What inspired you to start writing?

Perhaps, it was my father who was an avid reader. He told me how I would pick up his novels to read even before I could read, pretending to be reading. I just knew that I loved to learn and books can serve that purpose. English and my native Language, Yoruba, which I learned at school and at home were two subjects that I always aced even if I failed woefully in other subjects. So, it seemed like language and art come to me naturally. I also learned that I am not good at speaking both languages, but I can express myself better in writing them.

9. When you’re not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?

I love to watch movies. Since I live in the U.S. where I mostly speak and listen to people speak English, I tend to keep my native language by watching Yoruba movies on YouTube and Netflix. One thing I have been thinking about recently is to start writing in Yoruba, if not the grammatical one, I will like to start writing the fluid one so I can retain my writing in the language.

10. Do you have a website or social media channels (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) where readers can learn more about your work?Yes, I do. I am on:

YouTube
Facebook
Instagram
BukolaOriola.com