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.
‘Koku Baboni’ looks at the lives of twins, where one is left in the forest to die because of communal beliefs. It also looks at a woman’s feelings when she cares for a child she did not birth.
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.
‘The Adventures of Souza’ is about the many escapades of Souza, a village boy.
“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.
‘The Boy Slave’ is a historical novel set in 1865. It tells of the struggles of Shettima dan Gatta, who was captured and sold when he was eight.
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."
‘The Return of the Boy Slave’ is the sequel. Shettima has gone from servitude to being a warrior leader, eventually occupying the position of Emir. He abolishes slavery and fights the slave traders.
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!
Kola Onadipe is a literary…
Kola Onadipe is a literary icon. I remember reading his books while growing up particularly the The Boy Slave. I will definitely read it again.
Very nice blog post.
Kola Onadipe - A writer who blessed us with beautiful children books. One of such books 'Sugar Girl', is a story I can never forget. An icon who lived most of his life for children.
A remarkable Writer
Kola Onadipe will always remain in the children's heart for creating a remarkable adventurous stories for them;his death will not hamper the legacy he left behind. A truly remarkable writer he was.
Kola Onadipe really shaped the reading culture of children
I remember while growing up through primary school to secondary school.Kola Onadipe ignited the joy of reding in me which I still did.One of his best novel I think is Ralia the sugar girl.i will recommend the Nigerian government to bring back the series of kola's book in order to awaken the spirit of reading in children
Reality in Books
Kola Onadipe was a great writer. Death took him away too soon before he could bring more reality into books. Nigerians home and abroad have been so blessed with his piece. We lost a pen and book combined in one.