The March edition of the Monthly Book Reading organised by the Literary Renaissance Foundation [LRF] left participants highly stimulated and hungry for more chapters from Mafoya and the Finish Line by Ayo Oyeku.
The meeting started at 5:05 pm with a self-introduction by those present, after which the Executive Director of LRF, Babatunde Oladele, gave an overview of the mission and ideals of the foundation.
The compere, Oladimeji Ogunnoye, called for the bio of the author of the day, which was read by Mary Ogundipe, the Foundation’s Administrator. Ayo Oyeku is a Fellow of Ebedi International Writers Residency. He made an early mark
in 2004, when his first children’s book, First among Equals, was selected by World Bank for distribution across schools and libraries in the country. In 2015, his young-adult novel, Tears of the Lonely, won the Ezenwa Ohaeto Prize for Fiction, from the Society of Young Nigerian Writers.
In 2016, his poem, “Reeds on the Rivers”, was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. He is a two-time finalist of the Golden Baobab Prize in 2016 and 2018 respectively. In 2019, he won the ANA prize for Children’s literature for his book, Mafoya and the Finish Line. He recently published his eight children’s book, Queen Moremi Makes a Promise.
Ayo Oyeku is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). Asides from writing, he loves travelling and telling stories. He is the founder of the publishing firm, Eleventh House.
The book, Mafoya and the Finish Line is a book suitable for children aged 7 and it is about Mafoya, an accomplished sprinter who is tired of being second-best. Hence, she hatches a wicked plan and succeeds in beating Amina in the 100-metre dash.
Elated by her victory, Mafoya decides to employ the same trick again in the athletic championships but things take an unexpected turn. In the middle of the race, a strange whirlwind sweeps Mafoya away to Musanga Kingdom – the land of talking animals and birds. Mafoya faces both hostility and friendship as she takes an impossible journey back to the world she knows.
As Oyeku finished reading some chapters from the book, accolades flooded in from the participants, most of them yearning for more.
The meeting ended at 6:25 pm with the Executive Director thanking everyone who attended the reading whilst talking briefly about the ideals of the Reading Culture Dialogue. He enjoined everyone to be a part of the LRF Volunteers Workforce whilst inviting them to make it a date next month at the next reading which holds on April 2, 2023.