Exploring Antoinette Opara’s violet oranges in twilight
With Violet Oranges in Twilight, Rev. Sr. Antoinette Opara brings hope, valour and vigour to pupils and teenagers in the country who may be going through rough times in their social and academic journey.
The 10-chapter book, formally launched last Sunday, June 23, 2019, is a crisscross narrative of fiction and non-fiction of the 1980’s primary and secondary school days of a middle class Nigerian girl child and her friends. Opara is the administrator of Holy Child College, Ikoyi, and a leadership member of Society of the Holy Child Jesus (SHCJ).
The multi-skilled educationist and quintessential woman with admirable track record, through the book, captures the several issues confronting the Nigerian child and teenagers, proffering solutions on how they can navigate and come out stronger.
In the book, Opara chronicles her life experiences and perceptions as an adolescent, aligns it with the contemporary realities and presents it in a guide format for young Nigerian students.
The author reveals that the book is a compendium of sort, as it has prose, drama, poetry and essays. She says: “I felt I needed to give back to the society what I have received especially from my many years of experience and also as an administrator. The more I encounter students facing challenges in school, the more I felt I should do something like this that will help them get over their challenges.
“The book is full of hope for them and in a way it gives name to some of the issues that they are not even ready to talk about. A lot of wisdom is embedded in the book. The core message is that whatever that is happening to you today, happened to some children like you years past, and if they can go through it and overcome the challenges, you too can do it even more. If I lived to be a 100 years, I will not reach three quarter of the students that my message in this book can reach.”
On the choice of title, she explains, “it is like a paradox, if you reflect, perhaps, on your experiences of primary school days as an adult, you will discover that the lens you use to see things (like they say colours don’t look same by day as seen at night), so, if orange that is meant to be orange becomes like violet, it means the lens you saw it then, now makes sense, the meanings are more clear. So, they are actually about my experiences as a student and how as I see them now as an administrator and as an adult.”
The book presenter, Prof. Prisca Anuforo, while speaking at the launch, says the book is a subtle but gripping tale of the salient issues in teaching and learning: reflection on experience, as well as the hidden curricula that facilitate the development of the pupils and students during their initial formative years.
The author, according to Anuforo, through stories of school and family events, pertinently explores the challenges of school and family relationships, career choices, socialisations and aspirations.
Anuforo says the book is a must read for every child, student, teacher, parent and anyone passionate about learning. She adds, “it is written in a simple and yet intense with the language that is formal and intermittently laced with humour, presenting majorly the perspective of the learners that are within an educational system that focuses more on the facilitators of learning.
“Chapter one focuses on setting the context and giving background details of the narrator and major experience that informs her passion for education. Chapter two brings reader into the secondary school years of the author and her friends and presents an environment of trust that enables students to reflect on significant experiences of childhood and explore how the experiences transforms their attitudes, emotions, relationships and beliefs.
“The third chapter dwells on some critical behaviour, conduct, habit and personality of teachers and their attendant positive and negative influence on students, while the fourth and fifth chapters relate the emotional dilemma that arises from academic and behavioural assessment,” she says.
According to Anuforo, the sixth and seventh chapters focus on family and school relationships that shape an individual’s personality, as well as bring to light abuse of minors, certain female adolescent challenges and also celebrates love, care and services.
Chapter eight relates to career choices in sports and politics, while the ninth and 10th chapters focus on the qualities of teachers for the next generation and exposes certain issues on professionalism of the teaching profession.The book is targeted at pupils, students, teachers, parents and lifelong learners who delight in knowledge impartation.