Two Titles Earn
African Book Awards
Images of Africa tend to be dominated by images of poverty, rampant AIDS epidemics, other diseases, and political unrest seem to dominate media images of Africa. Yet despite the reality of these topics, the African continent represents multiple cultures and people with the same aspirations as those around the world. The two winners of the 2008 Children’s Africana Book Awards challenge the stereotypes and depict contemporary family life.
Ifeoma Onyefulu’s Ikenna Goes to Nigeria (Publishers Group West, 2007), Best Book for Young Children, tells the story of the author’s son, who traveled from London to visit his mother’s family in Nigeria. Told in first person, as seen through Ikenna’s eyes, the book describes Ikenna meeting relatives and seeing sights. Bright colored photographs, taken by the author, accompany the narrative and a personal insight into everyday family life. A recipe for Jellof Rice, a spicy chicken and rice dish, and a glossary of are included.
Onyefulu, a Nigerian native, moved to London to study and then worked for black newspapers as a photographer. Disturbed by images of Africa, she wrote her first children’s book in 1993. Ikenna Goes to Nigeria is her 12th book.
Aya, (Drawn & Quarterly, 2007) a graphic novel written by Marguerite Abouet and illustrated by her husband, Clement Oubrerie, won the Best Book for Older Readers award. Set in the Ivory Coast, 1978, Aya tells the story of 19-year-old Aya and her friends. The nation is prosperous and stable, but on the cusp of change. Amid this, Aya yearns to escape the overbearing eyes and ears of her family and neighbors, especially when it comes to dating. Reading Aya, teens see that their concerns are universal and increases cultural understanding. Aya includes a glossary and two recipes—one for a ginger juice drink, and the other for beef with peanut sauce.
Abouet was born in Abidjan and lived with an uncle in Paris. Oubrerie, a French native, has illustrated more than 40 children’s books. The couple lives in France.
The Children’s Africana Book Awards were established in 1991 by the African Studies Association. Fifty-seven books have been honored to date. In addition to the two top awards, three books received honor awards. Founded in 1957, the ASA provides resources about and promotes the study of Africa.
For more information, visit http://www.AfricaAccessReview.org.#