"Keep working on a plan. Make no little plans. Make the biggest you can think of, and spend the rest of your life carrying it out." Harry S. Truman

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Greetings everyone,

Amadi and I are so pleased and honored to have the visit of Nigerian author and photograph Ifeoma Onyefulu, today. Ifeoma has written several books illustrated with her beautiful photos, among which "Emeka's Gift," "My Grandfater is a magician," and "Saying Goodbye: A Special farewell to Mama Nkwelle."

She now lives in London, but she grew up in Igbo land, like Amadi, and she was kind enough to share a few pictures and an essay for our blog tour.

My First Books

by Ifeoma Onyefulu

    When I was growing up in Nigeria, I didn't have that many books. We lived in small towns where there were no libraries or bookshops, and the few shops there were, sold mostly rulers, pencils and notebooks, so it was very difficult to buy books.

 However, my parents sometimes bought my sibling and I books. Unfortunately, the books we had in those days were all about white children, who were either called John or Jill. There were always a boy and a girl in the book, with blond hair and blue eyes. They wore squeaky clean clothes, and shoes, as well. I was told lots of stories by my mother and other close relatives. They were such great stories; entertaining and full of good moral values for children. 

    The few books I had as a child were mostly about white children who were either called Jack or John, and in the case of a girl, Jane or Mary. They all had blond hairs and blue eyes, and were always squeaky clean. 

     For a while I thought all white children were like those two, until I came across Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist, and David Copperfield.

   When I was a teenager, my reading list grew, thanks to my older brother who lent me his books. He read mainly crime novels. Since I had no choice, I read what he read. But he'd always make my wash my hands before I was allowed to touch any of his books. 

   I believe my experiences have made me appreciate books a lot more. Perhaps that is why I became an author. But the good news is, I tell those stories my mother told us to school children in England. 

Market scene showing a woman carrying her child on her back and buying afufa or anara in Igbo, garden egg, in English, which is the small, green fruit usually served with spiced peanut butter when entertaining guests, and as well as with the traditional kola nuts.

And here, we see two young boys on their way to school, wearing their smart uniforms. That second picture appears in Ifeoma's last book, Ikenna Goes to Nigeria, published by Frances Lincoln Children's Books. It describes the experience of Ifeoma's son, who was born and lives in England, as he visits his ancestors' land. 

Thank you so much, Ifeoma, for sharing your photos and your experience with us. It's been a joy and a privilege. I will have a special post about Ikenna Goes to Nigeria, with an interview of Ifeoma, sometime soon, so continue to watch this space.


"Read in order to live." Gustave Flaubert

Tomorrow, we begin a two-day feature dedicated to sustainable libraries in Africa. We'll have an essay from author and literacy advocate Jane Kurtz, and we'll check to see "Where in the World is Amadi?" See you then...


Anonymous said...

I love the idea of having to wash your hands before you read a book! It makes sense to treat them like treasures. Thanks for sharing your stories and pictures, Ifeoma!


Karen Hamilton said...

Hi Katia,

What a wonderful tour you are on with Amadi! I loved Ifeoma's pictures and tale of her childhood in regard to reading.

I posted a link on my blog today about your tour - you're a rock star, girlfriend! :)

Katia said...

Thank you, Karen, for the kind words and the support. It's been an exciting adventure, for sure :)

Katia said...

Hi Sue,
I'm glad you enjoyed Ifeoma's essay. I'm also very particular when it comes to books. Always telling the children that they have to be careful and treat them well. And yes, washing hands certainly conveys the message that books are special.