9 December 2012

Nigeria: Panel Tackles Challenges of Children Literature in Nigeria

The Swedish Ambassador to Nigeria, Svante Kilander, hosted an event on Creative Storytelling at his residence in Abuja December 3 to discuss children literature in Nigeria and Sweden. Together with a panel of Nigerian authors, editors, publishers and journalists, the Ambassador discussed how Sweden's experience with many world-renowned children's authors may inspire the scene of children's literature in Nigeria.

The event was kicked-off by Nigerian master drummer, Chief Muraina, and his group of amazing Yoruba drummers presenting the talking drum - another prized institution within Nigerian story-telling traditions.

The art of storytelling is a strong tradition in both Nigerian and Swedish culture. But while Nigeria's adult literature scene is well-established its children's literature is still struggling to reach its full potential. Around 100 guests from the literary and educational scene in Nigeria attended the event and discussed the importance of children's literature when it comes to emotional growth and learning about and reflecting upon the values of the societies we live in. Training programs for children's authors and illustrators, strengthening the reading and literature component in Nigerian schools as well as making children's books available and affordable to more parents were some of the topics emphasised.

The president of the Nigerian PEN Club, Tade Ipadeola, moderated the panel and underlined the need for wider awareness and recognition in Nigeria of the genre of children's literature. That Sweden's most successful author, Astrid Lindgren, became famous for writing children's books and was both respected by her literary peers as well as cherished by the public is a source of strong inspiration according to author and panellist, Abubakar Adam Ibrahim. Renowned children's author, Fatima Akilu, added that aspiring Nigerian children's author should study Astrid Lindgren's ability to reach children by speaking from the heart as well as writing to and not for children using great sensibility and humour.

While poet Denja Abdullahi challenged children writers to ne

The event closed with a world premiere illustrating how story-telling can cut across not only different cultures and languages, but also different means of communication. Swedish poet and Nobel Laureate Tomas Tranströmer's poem, Track, was first read aloud and then interpreted in a performance by talking drummers and dancers.

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