Sola Alamutu, executive director of Children and the Environment (CATE) and author of Cate Saves the Ikopi Rainforest, visited ZODML last Wednesday (March 26, 2014) for a Junior Secondary Reading Programme session with students of Ireti Junior Grammar School and Girls Junior Secondary School. The session kicked off on a light note: Ifeoma Esiri (CEO of ZODML) asked the students about how they made use of the learning centres and resources available at their schools, reiterating their benefits.
Upon Alamutu’s arrival there was an opening prayer, after which everyone introduced themselves. The students were eager to tell her what information they had discovered on her through internet research and she was pleased at their findings. She asked the participants about their other interest asides from reading, and the responses included singing, dancing, listening to music, running, and acting. The students in turn asked the author various questions about her hobbies, childhood, and the inspiration and challenges she faces as a writer. Children and the environment are amongst Alamutu’s passions: she developed a strong appreciation for nature as a child and enjoys teaching. Writing a book which combined these two interests gave her the opportunity to reach a larger audience of children. Cate Saves the Ikopi Rainforest was also inspired by the Biblical story of Noah. Growing up in a home with a library, Alamutu developed a deep love of reading at an early age, and still learns a new word daily from the dictionary as she had been instructed to do by her mother. She wrote poems while in primary school, and was inspired to write stories in secondary school by Olu Olagoke’s The Incorruptible Judge, a book whose ending she found problematic. After a successful career in hospitality management, she decided to pursue her writing more seriously. This decision was challenged at first by her friends and family, but she finally gained their acceptance when she won the 2004 ANA Award. Ahead of the session, the students were asked to read Cate Saves the Ikopi Rainforest and to express their creativity by writing a continuation of the book. They discussed their favourite parts of the book with Alamutu, and she read aloud to them her favourite passage, which teaches young people about the importance of environmental sanitation. She emphasised the need to keep our environment clean and encouraged the students to politely correct anyone who litters the environment including their parents. In addition, she taught the students a poem titled “I Love to Read” which underscored the role reading could play in shaping their lives. Following this was the announcement of the three students who had had their continuations of Cate Saves the Ikopi Rainforest shortlisted from a total of 26: Aminat Balogun, Emmanuel Ayeni, and Akinwunmi Oluwatobiloba. Each shortlisted student read out their piece to the author, who was to announce the final winner. Aminat Balogun came first, with Emmanuel Ayeni and Akinwunmi Oluwatobiloba in second and third respectively. Each student was rewarded with a notepad and a pen. In addition, all of the session’s participants received a ZODML branded t-shirt and a selected Nigerian literary text, including Chike and the River and Tales by Moonlight. The programme ended with a vote of thanks by given by one of the students. Click through the gallery below to see more photographs from the event:[gallery link="none" ids="2975,2980,2974,2976,2979,2977,2978"]