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Published:March 13th, 2008 13:37 EST
Exiled Nigerian Author Speaks at UCF

Exiled Nigerian Author Speaks at UCF

By Hedy Phillips

Chris Abani has been kicked out of a lot of places. Including his home of Nigeria.

In an open forum at the University of Central Florida, Abani talked about his life and his novels.

After spending 18 months on death row in Nigeria, Abani came to the United States.  He said literature is what got him through that tough time.  And literature is something that has always been important to him.

I read a book when I was four that put me on a journey that I`m still on, " he said.

Abani started writing soon after and won an award at the age of 10.

He said anything you need to know about your life can be found in literature and you`re never more beautiful than when you`re most ugly. "

He spent time in and out of prison for years for political activism.

Nzinga Tafari, 20, attended the forum and was surprised at some of the things Abani had to say.

You always hear about African countries like Sudan, but not so much of Nigeria, " she said.

I think he made people more aware of everything and made the, want to be more active in global issues. "

And Abani has hope for his native country.  He said the hatred between people stopped with his generation.

Abani was born in Nigeria in 1966 to a white English mother and a black Nigerian father.  He left Nigeria in 1992 and is currently a professor at the University of California, Riverside.  His novels include Song for Night, " Graceland " and The Virgin of Flames. "