Celebrating Kola Onadipe’s 100th Birthday
The 14th of July 2022 marks the 100th birthday of Kola Onadipe, renowned children’s author. In celebration of the anniversary, we look at his endearing legacy.
Onadipe was one of the few Nigerian authors who wrote almost exclusively for children. It is a genre he excelled in. His novels were a wonderland of adventures for African Alices.
The treasures in his novels were many, such as the values of being focused, kindness, fairness, obedience, and integrity. His stories inspired a love of reading in children and became compulsory books for the Universal Basic Education program.
Let’s go down the rabbit hole with Onadipe's Alice and eavesdrop on what children think of some of his books.
‘Sugar Girl’ is the story of Ralia, an all-around good child loved by everyone in her village, earning her the eponymous nickname "sugar girl.” She, however, meets with unfortunate circumstances when she unwittingly follows a bird into the forest.
Kanyinsola, a primary school pupil, believes the book teaches the importance of staying focused.
"When our parents or elders ask us to do something, we should always keep our minds on it and do exactly as told," she said.
The novel taught Desmond, another primary school pupil, friendliness and being sorry for wrongdoing.
Ogunyemi, a primary school pupil, feels the novel taught him contentment:
"I learned that we should be happy irrespective of our situation because God will be there to help us.”
Loiz, another pupil, urges young people to be pleasant and helpful like Koku, the book’s protagonist.
“We should not do bad things and lie. That was the lesson I learned from the book,” says 11-year-old Eniola.
While for Victory, caring for our mother, who will care for us no matter what was the lesson the book taught.
Comfort, a junior secondary school student, feels the book is about perseverance.
“Shettima is my favourite character in the book. He never gave up. I learned that we should never give up."
Francis, a junior secondary school student, sums up the book this way:
“Slavery is not a good thing. We should be good, always give thanks to God and ask him for anything.”
“Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.” ―Maya Angelou.
Onadipe was one of the finest writers of children’s books in Nigeria and, as such, contributed to the development of literature in the country.
He has rightly earned a place as a literary icon. He ranks comfortably among authors such as Cyprian Ekwensi, Ifeoma Okoye, Christopher Paul Curtis, and Dr. Seuss. In Ms. Angelou’s words, his books have been ‘good’ for children.
A wide selection of Onadipe’s timeless books is available from our library at 196 Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Lagos State.
Share your thoughts and tell us which of Onadipe’s books you like best—we'd love to hear from you!