Wednesday, August 19, 2009

African Reader's Library


I met this writer, Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo yesterday.
Read more about her at 234next, and at sunnewsonline (so people really do it everyday)

I thought her elegant and...gracious? A new friend, looking to help me learn more about publishing options, brought me in to her office at the University of Lagos for a chat. Today I read her award-winning children's book "My Cousin Sammy." It made me sad at times, you know, the little daily cruelties in the family. The story is more interesting than some of the African literature we got in primary school.

For months I'd been trying to remember the title of a book that we read in Primary school. It had references to Bamenda, which we were told was in Cameroun. It wasn't an exciting read. I would maybe never have found it, was even considering posting a help request on the yahoogroup of my former classmates, when I got home found "The Village School" by Anezi Okoro. This wasn't the book but at the end was printed a list of other titles in the "African Readers Library," with short descriptions.

There was "An African Night's Entertainment" by Cyprian Ekwensi - I can still feel my heart race as I remember the sheer danger and excitement of following this story in reading class, was it primary 5 with Mrs. Emokpae? or Primary 4 with Mrs. Ogu? A similar story to The Passport of Mallam Ilia which we read in JS3 (Junior Secondary school) with Mrs. Bickersteth, the unforgettable, finishing schooled, then Head of English, now Principal of Queen's College Lagos. I just checked online...Ilia was of course written by Ekwensi.

On the list was also "Eze Goes to School" which is still very popular, but whose story I've forgotten, "My Father's Daughter" which I remember owning once, but it must have been unexciting, and on the third page of the list, at #16 was Promise, by Ashere, J. Promise was a book like "My Father's Daughter" - a girl's narration of some rustic living somewhere with not much action.

I would never have guessed that: "Promise is the story of a girl growing up in rural Cameroun..."

In those days, definitely Primary 6, 6A, with Miss * (three letters, two syllables, what was her name? jheri curls, dark and pretty and shapely and didn't let us play all the fun music at our class party at the end of primary school, so we trooped to 6C where the usually tough, cane-happy, short Ghanian Mr. Baa was letting the kids go crazy with disco etc. Was her name Miss Oji? She died soon after we left school.)

Where was I? In Primary 6 we had a book, not in the African Reader's Library, titled "Aduke Makes Her Choice." Aduke learrned typing and shorthand and things like that. I don't remember the "choice" she made, though. I remember the words stenography, and I think menstruation (which usually irked Aduke, or was it the Bamenda girl of Promise who noted this?) I remember Kenechi seemed to understand this part, mensuration or whatever, while I sure didn't. Kenechi is a nurse now. Thanks to facebook, I'm in touch with Primary school friends even.

Being on the campus of UNILAG...well, although it has that waterfront going for it,it's not a perfectly beautiful campus, but it is a campus, with all the youthful energy of late teens and tweens. I like campus energy, especially if it's all kinds of intelligent young people on campus, not only engineers.

1 comment:

t said...

Re: "living somewhere with not much action" - ha, that's funny, but not what I meant.