By Anote Ajeluorou
FROM being an author of several literature books focusing on children, Mrs. Mobolaji Adenubi has taken a big step forward in realising her dreams of making children writing books for their kind. To realise this, she set up Splendid Literature & Culture Foundation late last year. Now, children with creative ability in writing can craft interesting stories for fellow children to devour.
She anchored her new initiative on a complaint from most Nigerian parents that goes thus about locally produced children’s books: “We continue to buy these foreign books for our children because we can’t find good quality books for them written by Nigerian authors.”
Taking the argument forward, she asserted, “Foreign story books for children are admittedly attractively produced, with colourful covers, inviting illustrations and sharp and clean print. The stories, though no better than those written by Nigerian writers, are error free, flow smoothly, with vocabulary appropriate for the age grades they are intended for. These imported books are affordably priced.
“However, it is not impossible for Nigerian writers to produce qualitative, legible, colourful, well written and culturally acceptable children’s literature.
“The assertion that Nigerians lack a reading culture is false. What is more correct is that Nigerian adults and children do not read much literary works. Children consume cartoons. Adult Nigerians buy and read the many magazines published weekly and monthly; and new ones that come into the market regularly are sold. So we read!
“However, there is worsening use of the English Language, the country’s official and commercial language. The inability of the young to write well in English is linked to their lack of reading edifying books in that language, usually storybooks”.
It is her drive to correct this anomaly that she has set up Splendid Literature & Culture Foundation, named after her first work Splendid, which she wrote back in the 1990s. For Adenubi, “The Splendid Literature & Culture Foundation aims to ensure that books written by young writers for children readers satisfy parents who continue to buy books for their children, and the children who read them. The Foundation will encourage the production of children’s stories for ages 8 to 12 years that will entertain, enlighten, ignite their interest in reading and stimulate their imagination.
“Above all, stories that stimulate the imagination of readers will be encouraged. Children’s regular use of their imagination will help them develop HOW to think, not what to think. Imagination is everything. No invention is possible without imagination. A thing has to be imagined before it can be made. This applies to solutions and improvement. The use of imagination will help children think up different ways that things can be done in any circumstance. In this fast-changing world, this is an important skill to develop and use.
“As a sub-project, the foundation will run English Language and writing workshops for students in public schools in the long holidays in centres designated by each state. Able, retired English language teachers will be engaged to make these classes imaginative and fun. Much learning takes place in playful environment!”
“The foundation will annually call for submission of imaginative works by young Nigerian writers of children’s literature. A body of Judges, including renowned writers, literary critics, book sellers, children readers and publishers will be instituted to select stories that satisfy the above requirement. The Judges will also select the illustrators for the production of the works.
“Each year, a call for entries from young authors (11-21) will be made for unpublished works of children’s literature. The scripts received will be reviewed by the panel of judges and six (6) will be selected for publication under the grant arrangement. Every author thus published will be identified as a Splendid Young Writer and each book thus published will be under the Splendid Young Writers Series.
“Splendid Literature & Culture Foundation will carry out the publishing activities inclusive of editing, illustration, book design, printing, promotion and distribution of the books published by the Foundation.
“The authors whose works are published by the foundation will have public presentations of their works, with readings, book signings and tours arranged for them. They will receive adequate and regular royalties for their works. The illustrators, whose contributions embellish the stories and expand the imagination of the readers, will also be publicly recognized and adequately remunerated.
“The foundation will ensure that its children’s books will be published in time for these to be available for entry for the literary prizes for children’s literature, annually awarded by the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), NLNG Prize for Children’s Literature awarded every three years, and other similar prizes. Thus, our authors will have opportunities for validation as serious writers!
“The Foundation plans to operate nationwide to reach all Nigerian children. Writers, and illustrators in each State will be involved in the work of the Foundation, introducing the flavour of the cultures of their peoples. The imagination ethos of the Foundation will permeate its work everywhere.
“Of course, the Foundation’s books will circulate countrywide entertaining, educating and engaging children everywhere. Because these books will be produced in large quantities production cost will be reduced and they will be as affordable as foreign books sold worldwide. The Foundation will establish a distribution network, first in each State, and will link these with those established in the other States.
“As the Foundation plans to operate in each State of the Federation the Foundation aims to solicit government grant to encourage reading and writing among the young there. Corporate bodies and institutions all over the Federation will also be approached for support of this mission that will help develop highly adaptive adult workers”.
Splendid Literature & Culture Foundation is a not for profit company. The administration of the Foundation is vested in a Board of Trustees that will formulate its policies. The members include an accountant, Mr. Dotun Sulaiman, an award winning author and literary administrator, Odia Ofeimun, and a brilliant lawyer, Mr. Lanre Adebayo.
Others are veteran publisher, Mr. Lanre Idowu, a book marketing professional, Mrs. Ronke Orimalade, a civil engineer and IT specialist, Kemi Adenubi (Mrs. Lemon), a medical doctor and writer, Dr. Mariam Onuzo, and a seasoned educationist, writer and founder, Mobolaji Adenubi.
Splendid Literature calls for entries
Young Nigerian writers from ages 11 to 21 are invited to submit manuscripts for children’s literature from all over the country for the Splendid Literature and Culture Foundation Series.
According to Splendid Literature and Culture Foundation, organisers of the contest, the aim is to produce imaginative children’s stories that will entertain, enlighten and appeal to children of ages 8 to 12, and encourage them to read. These stories should also stimulate the imagination of the readers to help them think in novel ways to do things.
An initiative of Mrs. Mobolaji Adenubi, who is herself a prolific author of children’s stories, the series is designed for young writers resident in Nigeria and that their stories should have strong Nigerian/African content or flavour. Entries must also be original works, unaided and unpublished fiction in English. Plays and poems are not eligible.
The work to be submitted should be between 3000 and 3,500 words long, typed written, double spaced or legibly hand written on numbered pages. Illegible entries will be disqualified. Deadline is July 31, 2012. Six (6) copies of the story together with evidence of Nigerian citizenship (photocopies of birth certificate or Nigeria passport or Nigerian ID card) should be submitted to Splendid Literature and Culture Foundation at 31 Alhaji Tokan Street, Alaka Estate, Surulere, Lagos.
Submissions will be assessed by the foundation’s judges and six suitable stories will be selected and published annually. She also said the usual royalties and publication terms will apply to every story published.
Interested children’s authors should include their names, address and telephone numbers and email address if possible on the title page of the manuscript, with only the full name of entrant on each number page of the submission. Entries must be submitted under the real name of the entrant; pseudonyms may not be used. Entrant must submit only one entry