Nigerian-born Ekiuwa Aire cherished researching African historical past, devouring as many blogs and books on the topic as she may. “I needed to know from a extra balanced viewpoint how colonization affected Africa, and all of the downstream impacts,” the Toronto-based creator and writer says. Then her two little ladies got here alongside.
She was wanting to share her love of Africa’s previous along with her daughters, now aged seven and 9, however rapidly ran right into a dilemma. “I failed to search out biographical books on legends in African historical past (for kids),” she says. Understanding that biographies could be an enticing solution to introduce historic characters to youngsters, she determined to deal with the issue herself. “I made a decision to create books that may make it simpler for teenagers to attach with characters from Africa’s previous.”
First up in her “Our Ancestories” series of illustrated books: “Idia of the Benin Kingdom.” “I selected to jot down about Queen Idia as a result of she grew up in a patriarchal society and defied societal norms,” Aire says. “She was the primary of her variety as a feminine commander to guide warriors to struggle and win a struggle in protection of her nation. Her story can also be distinctive as a result of her face was immortalized in ivory masks and bronze heads that may be seen to today.” Aire says her daughters pitched in as properly, appearing as an ad-hoc focus group.
The e book, which got here out in late 2020, was embraced by mother and father wanting to share African historical past with their youngsters. “I’m grateful to be given the possibility to dispel the destructive stereotypes about Africa which might be so usually repeated,” Aire says. She was delighted that her e book discovered a house in school rooms, together with a spot on the college curriculum in Lagos State in Nigeria; the e book was additionally shortlisted for numerous awards and gained Finest E book for Younger Kids on the 2021 Kids’s Africana E book Awards.
Her second title, “Njinga of Ndongo and Matamba” appeared final spring, full with research items and lesson plans for academics. “I selected to jot down on Queen Njinga as a result of she is among the better-documented African queens,” Aire says. “Her legacy as a political chief throughout Angola’s struggle towards colonialism has made her a revered image.” Final fall, Aire’s fledgling publishing empire acquired a She’s Subsequent grant from Visa Canada, beating out lots of of different candidates to land a $10,000 award.
Two titles will be a part of the “Our Ancestories” collection this 12 months: one will happen in Egypt, the opposite within the Mande Empire. Aire says it’s essential for teenagers of African descent to find out about Africa’s half in world historical past, in order that not all tales concerning the continent and its individuals are related to slavery or colonialism. “Likewise, it is very important expose youngsters to quite a lot of cultures and existence in order that they will see the world as a unified place,” she says. “It will assist decrease stereotypical and judgmental attitudes in the direction of the continent. Studying these tales about African heroes ought to hopefully present youngsters with a way of delight, confidence and motivation for the long run.”
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