Canada-based Nigerian Writes Books to Inspire Children

An internationally celebrated children’s books author, speaker and podcast host, Olamidotun Votu-Obada, has commenced the writing of books under the Big (Be Inspired By The Greatest) Series in a bid to retell stories and history of inspiring African legends  to children across the world.

Olamidotun disclosed  this  in a virtual interview  saying:  “ My vision is to write these stories to connect our young readers to the lives of these inspiring African characters to inspire them to see beyond the characters, learn from them and recreate the experiences of their lives.”

Her picture book, “Be Inspired by Me,” is a beautifully illustrated book that inspires self-identity and cultural diversity and creates awareness of personal uniqueness in a child’s mind.

“Be Inspired by MKO Abiola,” another book in the series, delves into the life of the Late Chief M.K.O Abiola, who, through many obstacles, achieved great things in life despite his humble upbringing and became a successful businessman recognized both internationally and nationally.

The book further sheds light on how Chief  Abiola became a significant influencer, leaving his mark on the footprint of time as he became a presidential candidate in an African nation that defied all odds and a man with a legacy that still lives on even after he is long gone.

peaking on the MKO Abiola book, Olamidotun said: “So the idea for me is to be able to retell inspiring African people’s stories for children. For instance, the MKO story was written for children in a way that a child can understand, and coincidentally, it has done so well, and it was presented to the Canadian Prime Minister recently.”

Part of the series is also a book titled, “Be Inspired by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf,” an eye-opening book about the first female President of Liberia. “Be Inspired By Fela” is about the great Fela, who, at a young age, developed an interest in topical political issues. He was a great musician who used his music to speak about social issues that touched people’s lives and fight for justice and peace.

She said: “With permission from the Estate of Fela AnikuIapo-Kuti, I have also retold Fela’s story, the Afrobeat legend, for children to understand. I am not only writing about Nigerian stories, there are several other characters with African heritage whose stories I am going to tell. For instance, I have retold the story of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first female President of Liberia, for children. At the moment, I am working on stories about Kofi Annan, Desmond Tutu, just to mention a few.”

“My goal is for our children across the world to be able to read about inspiring African people, regardless of where they are, and be proud of their heritage and who they are. I remember growing up in England and thinking how proud I was when I heard the names of notable African characters.”

Olamidotun noted that she wants children with African heritage to reconnect with legendary African characters and learn from their lives.

He added: “For instance, in America, if you ask a seven-year-old, he will tell you about George Washington and Abraham Lincoln and their roles in their societies. But I find that a lot of African children who are in their 20s and below don’t know about their people and culture and the roles they played in their society.”

Olamidotun mentioned that she was inspired to start writing these stories after she migrated abroad and her children asked questions. She says, “They started asking many questions about Nigerian history, African history. When I was younger, my parents told me many stories about our culture and history. This helped me pass this culture down to my children, and I felt I needed to do the same for other African children worldwide.”

For Olamidotun, it is crucial for children to know and appreciate culture. She advises that parents ensure their children are educated about history and never forget it.

Speaking about the importance of children learning history, she said: “Children are learning a lot about foreign culture and history, but if you ask them who MKO Abiola was or who Fela was, they will probably be clueless. It will be nice for them to know a lot more about African history, you know, and I think for me, that was what inspired the journey into writing.”

Speaking on her journey as an author, she said: “I have always loved to write. When I realised there was a gap in telling African stories and culture to children, I saw it as a great opportunity to take advantage of and retell these inspiring stories in a fun and educative way to children worldwide.”

Olamidotun credited her parents, who always inspired her to read many books growing up and told her stories about many inspiring and notable characters. She also credited her father-in-law, the late Major General O.E Obada, who used to constantly tell her and her children stories about the Nigerian civil war and many other stories.

She advised parents to get their children to read about African heritage and the people who shaped history. She said that we, as Africans, should be proud to tell our stories the way Indians and Chinese do so that this generation and the generation to come never forget.

Speaking about the future, she said: “I am glad I can make these books, but I hope that in the future, the books can be turned into films for children to enjoy.”

According to her, to make the books accessible to audiences worldwide, they are currently being sold on Amazon.

Olamidotun’s books have been celebrated in schools internationally for their celebration of diversity and inclusion and one of them, “Be Inspired By MKO Abiola” was well received by the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau at the Black History event held recently.

The President of Network of Nigerians in Canada, Uche Ukogu presented a copy of the book to the prime minister to showcase Nigeria’s independence during the Black History Month.

The author had also shared copies of the book with Jean Augustine, the first Black Canadian woman to serve as a Federal Minister of the Crown and Member of parliament of Canada.

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