Lolade Adewuyi is a familiar name for Edusko followers. He was one of the speakers at the maiden, The Business of Education (TBE) Summit held in 2017, where he spoke about the relevance of sports in schools after freshly obtaining his MSA from the Russian International Olympic University in Sochi. Last week, the former chief editor of Goal.com and contributor to The Guardian, released his first children’s picture book, The Lost Little Masquerade, published by Aramide, an imprint of Fairchild Media.
The book tells the story of Taju, a six-year-old who becomes lost at his first Eyo Festival and is rescued by a policewoman who helps him find his father and the rest of his carnival group. Through the theme of loss, a topic that resonates with children, and colourful images, the book shows us the beautiful Eyo culture of Lagos, West Africa’s biggest and most vibrant city.
In this exclusive interview with Edusko, Lolade talks about his motivation for writing the book and how it has made his daughter see him in a different light. Read excerpts below:
Edusko: Congratulations on the release of your first children’s book, Lolade. Take us through your motivations for writing the book.
Lolade Adewuyi: Thank you. The Lost Little Masquerade started as a conversation between my friend, Abolore Sobayo, and I. The Covid-19 lockdown had just started in Germany and we had run out of books to read to my six-year-old daughter, Latoyo. So, I started to share stories with her from my childhood, stories that my mother had told me growing up. And when we ran out of those, I had to dig into life stories and it was when I dug up a story of a lost Eyo that happened during my work as a journalist at TELL magazine.
So it is a true story?
Yes, it is a true story that has now been fictionalized. Its roots are very true and the cultural traditions of the Eyo are very factual. Sobayo, who has worked on some Eyo installation art, encouraged me to write it down. After it was written, my publisher hired a computer-based illustrator. We were not satisfied so Sobayo agreed to hand-paint each of the pages. Essentially, we have a collection of art works by a master artist in the book.
It is impressive what you have both achieved. Why is The Lost Little Masquerade important as a book for African parents and children?
We moved to Berlin in 2019 as my wife is finishing her PhD at the Humboldt University. My daughter has had to learn German in one year in order to start primary school. With her we visit the library once a week to borrow books in German and English. All these stories are written from a Western lens. The Lost Little Masquerade is written from an African perspective and I hope it brings diversity to the Berlin library where children can find something different and interesting. Our publishing date missed out on the new books acquisition period for this year, we hope that it will be picked up next year for wider distribution in the library district.
And how has your daughter received the book after its publication, since she inspired it?
I am happy to report that she loves it. She reads it every time, twice a day sometimes, according to my wife. I think she’s proud of her father’s writing. And I hope that many other children get to be inspired by the book.
Do you see the book becoming an important part of education in Nigeria?
I do hope that schools and parents will give it a chance. We must encourage our children to read diverse topics. The themes of The Lost Little Masquerade will resonate with many children. How does one handle being lost? I have been lost many times in my life, once as a school child and often as an adult, as a journalist finding my way in a new city during assignments. Who do you turn to for help? How do we find our way back home? These are some of the culturally significant themes that everyone would find in my book.
Thank you for sharing these insights with us, Lolade. We hope that you will be able to read the book to children in Nigeria after the Covid-19 restrictions are over.
Yes, I hope so too. It would be my pleasure to tour schools and libraries in Nigeria to read to children. Thank you for the opportunity to speak about the book. Stay safe everyone.
The Lost Little Masquerade is published by Aramide, an imprint of Fairchild Media. It is available in bookshops across Nigeria and via Amazon. Bulk orders can be made directly with the publisher: Femi Morgan +234 818 188 0536