By Osaro Adekunle
THE treasure never ends!
Whether it’s from the Treasure Base of the land to the fruitful Savannahs or the busy ports and hustle and bustle of the Centre of Excellence, we have seen that:
Though tribe and tongue may differ, in brotherhood we stand;
The labours of our heroes past shall never be in vain;
To serve with heart and might, one nation bound in freedom, peace and unity.
Therein lies our true treasure: the unity we share in diversity.
Nigeria Hotchpotch, launched on Children’s Day, May 27, 2023, brings these to you in a succinct way:
At different levels for the young and the older generation — as the analogies drawn from Giant’s travels can be taken at, possibly, three different levels:
The young child ‘innocently’ enjoying his or her story about a sleeping Giant who wakes up and goes on an adventure trying to find his name;
Or the older child, who has done enough social studies in school to recognise some similarities with Nigeria in the story;
To the adults, who may have delved a little deeper, drawing parallels between Giant and our beloved country, Nigeria!
Nigeria Hotchpotch author, Noma Shodipo (right) presenting a copy to the chairman of the book launch, Sir Olu Okeowo, at Quintessence, Lagos
And beyond these three groups are those who are neither Nigerians nor have visited the country. Nicole Reece, a West Indian lady reviewing the book, Nigeria Hotchpotch, from the UK, had this to say:
“It truly is a charming, delightful, well written book… It will make everyone who reads it smile and want to explore more of Nigeria. Your love for your homeland flies off the pages. Definitely a bonus… Most definitely educational with the landmarks and interactive tasks at the end plus will have appeal far and wide. I really liked the glossary of landmarks at the end…
Absolutely wonderful! May Giant’s adventure touch the hearts of many and capture many imaginations.”
The author-publisher of the book, Nigeria Hotchpotch, and host of the weekday radio show, ‘Two-Minute Storytime’ with Auntie Noma and Saturday live show on Nigeria Info FM, responded:
“I must confess that I didn’t start that way — with the intention of grabbing the attention of these three groups and tourists! All I set out to write was a simple story about a giant, yes Nigeria, who couldn’t remember his name… So the Author of Creativity Himself must get the credit!
“And yes, inspired by our dear country, Nigeria, as well as a little creature I used to read about to our children at the nursery school I founded, and thoroughly enjoyed running for 20+ years! The little creature was a mixture of a long black tail like a cat’s, large eyes like the moon, I think, … beautiful feathers (or wings?) like a bird (or butterfly)… A hotchpotch of all those creatures, but its own unique self.”
A Nigerian reviewer living in the UK also had this to say:
“I enjoyed reading the book. Initially I thought this was about the giant going on a journey to self-discovery and finding his name. About half-way through I realised that he represented the different and diverse aspects of Nigeria which make it a great and giant country. It was also a good way to learn about other states and their slogans. Interesting perspective about celebrating the diversity of Nigeria and seeing it as something great and unifying.
“I have always felt that all the Nigerian tribes and culture are so different that it can almost be detrimental to the country’s progress. However, I appreciate this perspective. I loved the illustrations.”
During the book launch, Onyinyechi Ekumankama, host of ‘The GX’ show on Nigeria Info FM, had this to say about the book: “I want to commend Auntie Noma’s creativity in weaving the states and slogans into the story. I was curious to find out what the giant’s name was!
“It is highly educative in a day and age where the African and Nigerian culture is disappearing. It’s beautiful to hear someone read this and want to come to visit this beautiful country you’ve talked about, as against reading things and thinking it’s such a barbaric place. It is highly recommended for all our children, for orphanages and schools.”
The book was launched by Sir Olu Okeowo of Gibraltar Construction, who was accompanied by his beautiful wife, Lady Joke Okeowo. He emphasised that children are God’s heritage and must be brought up in the way of the Lord. During his unveiling, he highlighted the importance of godliness and integrity as exemplified by the author and her husband, Professor Bankole Sodipo (SAN), with support from their adult children, MC of the occasion and Kallo Web Technologies’ boss, Mr. Koye Sodipo, architect, media professional, Abisoye Sodipo, and photographer and Akintoye Sodipo, all of whom played important roles in the production and launching of the book.
Host of ‘Maternity Line’ at Nigeria Info FM, Zaynab Yekeen, was also full of glowing remarks about the book. Also, Ebiere Kuroye, noted how difficult it was to receive good press on Nigeria outside the country and encouraged the public to get copies of Nigeria Hotchpotch, whilst showcasing the author’s other books, A Preschool Alphabet Book and A Treasury of African Names, acknowledged by Queen Elizabeth II, and accompanying workbook series.
In her wise admonition to parents, Hon. Justice Jumoke Pedro, reminded them of their responsibilities as role models to their children.
The author, Noma Sodipo, expressed the fact that Nigerian children are resilient, intelligent, capable of excelling in all good areas. She also said they could combine both African and ‘Western’ music and dance styles — as evidenced by the beautiful and skillfully performed piece by Asope Kuyinu, who played before Prince Edward, who represented the Duke of Edinburgh, on his visit to Nigeria a few years ago, the traditional dances and all in-between.
Pupils of Le Poshe School performing a playlet ‘One Nigeria’ after a series of cultural presentations from the children of Guiding Light Assembly
Sodipo said Nigerian children were at home whether it was the expression or display of talent through the arts and crafts in pottery, tie&dye, paintings, etc, on display at the venue, Quintessence, or the drama performance by the children of Le Poshe school, Parkview Estate, Ikoyi or the excellent display of true pride and patriotism by the children of Guiding Light Assembly, Parkview Estate, who enthralled guests with treasures from their lands — the various states they represented through their language, dressing and interesting tit-bits about some (imagine selling snow to the Eskimos as in ‘God’s own state’) or the beautiful rendition of ‘One Nation.’ The author also commended Quintessence art and bookstore for its exquisite venue and great stock of books, and thanked the MD, Mr. Jude Oni-Okpaku and all the staff for their support and collaboration in the highly successful event.
The guests, young and young at heart, ranged from a set of five year old quads (really triplets and their similarly aged cousin), to young adults some of who attended Noma Sodipo’s nursery school several years ago, to their parents, friends and well wishers, some of who included Mr. & Mrs. Olusegun Ajayi, Dr. & Mrs. Olufemi Oyetunji, Mr. Tunde Oduwole, Mr. & Mrs. Edet Eniang, Dr. & Mrs. Jaiye Doherty, Mrs. Abiola Olatunji, Mrs. Oyin Abibo, Mrs. Caxton-Martins, Miss Dupe Adebisi, Mrs. Ekanem Ejike, Mrs. Funmi Otuedon, Mr. Chino Obasi, Pat Odeh, Lami, Mrs. Ronke Adeniyi, Mrs. Kehinde Kuyinu, Osarhieme Ezekiel, Mr. & Mrs. Osaze Ezekiel, among other guests.
It was truly a fun-filled day, topped up with many mouth-watering delicacies that delighted the young and young at heart at a time when everyone is hoping and praying for a new Nigeria. Like Nigeria Hotchpotch, it was a time to rise and shine indeed, with many missing pieces already coming together, dry bones coming alive! And the children of this generation are very much at the fore of it!
Nigeria Hotchpotch is recommended for ages 3-10 years, ideal for nursery and primary schools for Social Studies, Geography, Culture, Patriotism and more and also ideal for Nigerians in the diaspora as well as non-Nigerians desiring to know more about Nigeria. It’s also available online and at major bookstores.