In new book, Kukuruku Girl, Onize tells tales of her childhood
Onize Edith Aiyede is the author of Kukuruku Girl: Tales of My Childhood, a collection of stories of her formative years in Igarra, a community in the northern part of Edo State.
As the title suggests, the novel is about the author’s younger years in her natal town at the foot of the famous Kukuruku hills. A child rights advocate and gender equality campaigner, Ms. Aiyede is also a culture activist. The book was publicly presented at The Garden, Freedom Park, Broad Street, Lagos, on April 9, 2022. She tells GREGORY AUSTIN NWAKUNOR what is so unique about the book.
Why Kukuruku Girl: Tales of My Childhood? Aiyede smiles, opening a page from the book, she reads some pages to select the audience at the book presentation. She pauses after a whole chapter has been read. After about five minutes, she reads out the caveat in the book.
Smiling, Aiyede says though her Igarra community is like one per cent of the one per cent minority, “there are lots of uniqueness in our story. I have decided to tell that story… I love writing.”
Aiyede reveals: “I had lots of experiences growing up at the foot of Kukuruku hills. I have read so many books and read about people telling their stories, I saw that there’s something unique about where I’m from that no one has ever told tales about.”
Aiyede believes that if there’s anyone to tell stories about Etuno people, “it should be us because we know it best. We lived it. We experienced it and more than anything, it is our truth. So, this book is my truth. It is the truth of every girl who grew up in that community. The truth of every person that has a childhood and has survived.”
As the title suggests, the novel is about the author’s younger years in her natal town at the foot of the famous Kukuruku hills from which the title is derived.
Described as a woman of many parts, Aiyede, a professional realtor, who holds a diploma in Estate Management and an MBA from Nexford University, Washington DC, USA, says, “may our stories find their places in history.”
Onize says she is inspired by writers such as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Sefi Atta, Wole Soyinka and Chinua Achebe, who all in different ways, told stories of their environments and cultures that shaped them. “I’ve always wanted to write and publish… I wanted to write something that people could relate to. Even though I’m a realtor, there is that innate desire to do this.”
She started writing the book in 2019 and finished it, same year. Though not properly edited, as she had hoped, Aiyede went on to publish it when she came back from her MBA programme. “I was apparently looking for an editor that was known.”
She had earlier written a book, a collection of fictional stories, but this is her first authored book.
The book, which has received positive reviews in the media, is a “candid delivery of experiences, which were fun and tragic at some point while revealing other aspects that were mischievous and humbling,” Edi Lawani, a consultant to the book project aimed at documenting the life of an average Etuno girl, says.
Kukuruku Girl: Tales of my childhood, the publishers say,” is a collection of stories, made in time. The narratives collectively paint a portrait of the years of innocence steeped in mischief and rascally inquisition into the vast canvas of life as experienced by the author.
“In an age of fast-eroding self-identity, it is hoped that this body of work will bring memories of some pieces of your childhood, community and heritage, memories that will draw you into an experience beyond the author’s life as a Kukuruku girl.”
For Niran Adedokun, author of The Law is an Ass, The Danfo Driver in all of Us, and other books, “Edith Aiyede achieves the dual purpose of telling a personal odyssey and proudly marketing her Igarra community and Etuno dialect to the otherwise uninformed. Although personal, it tells the vivid relatable story of many Nigerian children and pricks at the conscience of everyone saddled with their care. With simple, yet captivating language and the imagery they create, Ms. Aiyede delivers an impactful debut, which is precursor to more revolutionary efforts from the author and a definite pride for her Etuno people.”
Michael Effiong, Editor, Ovation International Magazine, says, “writing in a free-flowing conversational style, combining maturity with child-like innocence, the writer’s story-telling skill is indeed gripping and enjoyable.”
According to Nora Sanya, author of Warm Embrace and Maima’s Conquest, “I grew up in Igarra, though my parents shielded me from the Kukuruku Hills and experiences shared by the writer, she shares a firsthand experience and depicts moments in a vivid way.”
Also endorsing the book, Babatunde Ajobo, Editor-in-Chief, Socialgist.com, notes “yhis amazing body of work is an emotional roller-coaster encapsulating the joys and sorrows of growing up in a serene and picturesque small Nigerian town. The bravery and sheer honesty of the author is easily translated to the reader. I give the book, two thumbs up.”
Aiyede likes music, movies, filmmaking and healthy living, however, her dream remains to transform the boardroom so that suits are banished and ankara takes over as corporate wear.