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Developing talent and celebrating diversity

Uju Maduforo writes about the book she wrote with her daughter Keona (KCM):

My daughter and I wrote a book.  It still feels a bit weird at times to say that out loud, but we did, and the more I say it, the more awesome it feels.  Our book Uncle Gugi’s Wedding (pronounced goo-gi) was a perfect opportunity to combine developing talent and celebrating diversity.  Here’s how and why we did it.

Encouraging talent

My daughter KCM has always had a creative flair – writing stories, drawing, going into her own little world or playing an instrument. As a parent you try to nurture it as best as you can, and we tailored gifts to focus toys and activities that would help her explore those interests further.  I noticed her drawings were actually quite good (better than anything I could ever come up with), and proposed a joint project (which would result in our book – Uncle Gugi’s Wedding) where I would write, and she would draw the illustrations.  She was up for it, but required a lot of hand holding along the way to push and believe in herself and her abilities.  So together, we pushed through and a couple years later we gave birth to, and are celebrating our book.

Uncle Gugi’s Wedding book cover

KCM illustration – Aunty’s wedding dress

A couple years on, KCM’s art has developed further, and she’s now taking on commissions for portraits.  We are not sure where this will lead, but it has been, and continues to be a beautiful journey of discovery and hard work, as she continues to enjoy the process of perfecting her skills, buying more and more art supplies, and decorating her bedroom walls plus every scrap piece of paper with a drawing or sketch.  I continue to cheer all the way.

KCM pencil sketch – lips

KCM sketches – french fries and eye

Celebrating diversity

During my childhood I was blessed to have lived in and travelled to different countries, and I also come from a family that truly embraces diversity.  As a result, learning about different cultures has always been a great interest, and helped to develop a healthy sense of self and identity. This was a gift I was keen to pass on to my children.  I focused on building a strong connection with their country of origin (Nigeria). The plan was that this would allow them to know of, be curious about and embrace their roots, whilst doing the same of the British environment and culture they live in and were born into.  Both cultures have very interesting and enjoyable elements, so it’s a bonus to be able to experience and enjoy both.

To establish the strong connection with Nigeria, we were intentional with activities such as speaking our mother tongue (Igbo) at home, listening to and enjoying Nigerian music, eating our traditional Nigerian foods and travelling to Nigeria every few years.  Writing the book, was one additional step I hoped would help cement a memorable experience which not just my children, but also other children like them whatever their culture and background, could learn from and enjoy.  Through this book we were able to weave in lessons on questions such as why African children refer to every adult as Uncle or Aunty even though they’re not biologically related to you, or why Nigerians have more than one wedding.   Having the opportunity to work on the book with one of the most fabulous individuals I know (my daughter) was the icing on the cake.

It’s a light, laugh out loud, eye-opening slice into the beautiful elements of African culture, which will leave your children excited and hopefully wanting to know more, not just about Nigerian culture, but also theirs. You can get your copy today on Amazon.

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