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Sunday, 11 December 2016

Trip To Nigeria: Oluwabusayo Yusuf- Bello Writes Children Books With a Touristic Niche



REVIEVER: SAGE Sammy Hassan


Children literature, despite being a vital and foundational base for all literature, is more often than not relegated in Nigeria. It's almost as if the stakeholders of Nigerian literature, consider this genre as an afterthought, rather than the basis of all writing. Like the adage goes
- catch them young.
It is scientifically proven that education is what we learn when we begin to learn from infancy. So it goes without saying if we want a nation that reads we would inadvertently pay more focus on what our children read. 

Interestingly, Nigerian children are more conversant with Enid Blyton and books like Fantastic Four, Treasure Island, Alice in Wonderland and the likes. For older children and teenagers, the international success Harry Potter books is more familiar to them than the stories our grandmother's told in the fire-lit evenings of Nigerian villages. These younger ones who are being brought up by cable and Internet have no idea what the story of Ananse the spider, and the usual African tale fables we grew up on. 

This is not to say that we are bereft of talented writers who craft stories to fill the fantasy of our children, we do, we just seem to not pay attention to these works while we allow the young to run wild online. It seems easier to let them watch Cartoon Network than to build their young minds on strong African-themed stories. 

Over the years the children book genre has suffered a massive blow in the market seemingly; surprisingly there are those who have refused to give up the fight for the minds of our children and continue to write great pieces of literature. As much as they do, the response has been slow but growing. And that is encouraging. Nigeria is the leading African country in global African literature. Our writers are growing by the day and the accolades and respect we garner around the world is unprecedented. It is time for Nigerian children literature to join the ranks of this successful trend.

In comes this young woman Oluwabusayo Yusuf-Bello. Busayo's writing is motivated by her own child-like curiosity about places and people as captured in the blurb. Her literary goal is to introduce young ones to different places and people, hence the theme of her writing. And as is expected, she has a beautiful patriotic fervour for her home country Nigeria. She has two books in this light written for children by someone who loves children and delights in educating while entertaining them.  Trip to Nigeria and Trip to Nasarawa are two of Olubusayo Yusuf-Bello's book in review. 

Both books are colourful and handy 21/22-page affair. A delight to read, attractive to behold and with a good grip the size of a computer tablet. 

Oluwabusayo Yusuf-Bello's Trip To Nigeria is a concise fictional children's book with a touristic appeal. Rather than the usual children story this book attempts to ignite a spirit of adventure and patriotism in the minds of young Nigerians.  Trip To Nigeria is well-written and the reader can catch the throbbing excitement Bamidele the young character and hero personifies as he embarks on a trip to Abuja with his parents.

The trip to Abuja endeavours to carry the young and impressionable reader along as Bamidele and his parents visit the major landmarks and distinct architecture of the Federal Capital City of Nigeria. From Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport the excitement of the lad is contagious and the reader can actually picture him or herself as part of the story. 

Oluwabusayo also takes the pains to teach the reader the history and geography of Abuja. From the Gbagyi people, to the marble and tantalite minerals found in Abuja to the famous Aso Rock and structures of note like the National Assembly, ship House, the Cyprian Ekwensi Centre For Arts and Culture, the National Stadium, the National Mosque, the Ecumenical Centre or National Christian Worship Centre, to the National Children Park and Zoo. All these were covered in words and pictures.

Yes, like all standard children books, pictures of people, places and objects play a major role in creating the appeal this colourful book carries.

A commendable piece of literature recommendable to the future leaders and citizens of Nigeria.
From Trip to Nigeria we journey through her eyes in an equally exciting Trip To Nasarawa. Nasarawa State in a neighbouring state to the Federal Capital City. Trip to Nasarawa is a sequel to Trip to Nigera and it seems the story will be done in a series to introduce young Nigerians to the great country that they can call theirs. 

Trip to Nasarawa focuses on the natural endowment of Nasarawa State. The book opens with the statement 'welcome to Nasarawa State. Home of Solid Minerals'. Like in the first installment, the young hero Bamidele introduces us to this as his curiosity kicks in he wonders why Nasarawa is called 'home of solid minerals'. 

"That is because Nasarawa State has the highest number of solid minerals in the country" Bamidele's dad said.

Oluwabusayo proceeds to inform the young reader (and adults alike) that Nasarawa State is blessed with about twenty eight solid minerals including Sapphire and Amethyst. She continues to name all twenty eight. If you don't know them you will do well to get a copy of the book. The book doesn't stop there as pictures of these minerals are up in display on the pages of the book. The history of the state is also not left out as well as a mention of the twenty nine languages being spoken in the mineral-rich Nigerian State. 

Oluwabusayo Yusuf-Bello takes the reader on a tour of Nasarawa State through its main towns like Akwanga, Keffi and state capital Lafia. She doesn't just make a quick stop there, she endeavours to carry the young tourist and parents to major sites waterfalls, lakes, rocks and more to the delight of all. She is a good literary tour guide and teacher. After going through this two books, my appetite for me is whet and I wished a third and a fourth instalment were already published.

I look forward to reading even more books in the series and especially to recommend them to the teeming children population of Nigeria.


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