ndidi chiazor enenmor at the LRF september book reading
Book Reading, Events

Ndidi Serves Literary Delicacy at the September LRF Book Reading

Award-winning author, Ndidi Chiazor-Enenmor, left the audience riveted as she read from her novel, If They Tell The Story, at the LRF book reading on Sunday, 3 September 2023.

Chiazor-Enenmor is a versatile and prolific novelist who writes for both adults and children. Her novel, If They Tell the Story, won the ANA Prize for Prose in 2022. Her best-selling children’s book, A Hero’s Welcome, made the first shortlist of the Nigeria Prize for Literature in 2019. Her earlier book, One Little Mosquito, published in 2008, won the ANA prize for children’s writing in 2009.

Being a strong advocate for education beyond the classroom, Ndidi has engaged in several activities to stimulate outdoor learning and has collaborated with several agencies to bring African stories on stage. Under the auspices of Project Read Aloud and Tell (PRAAT), her brainchild, and in partnership with the Goethe Institute and Alliance Francaise, several programmes promoting learning have been held over the years.

As the guest author of the LRF at the September edition of its monthly reading programme, Ndidi thrilled the audience with the 300-page novel which focuses on themes such as mental health, domestic violence, societal pressure on marriage and childbearing, the get-rich-quick syndrome and illegal migration.

If They Tell the Story is a book about Azuka who fights for her survival in a society that has raised her to find her worth in marriage and motherhood. This is a story of how shackling deep-seated beliefs can be as they are passed down from one generation to another.

The prose is divided into three sections, namely dreams, reality and illusions, and features a rural-urban setting.

While shedding light on the effect of poverty on the lives of people, which is often abuse and molestation, the story also highlights the erroneous societal belief that it is always women who have issues when a couple are unable to conceive. The author drove this home by noting that “the society we live in always blames the woman if there is an issue of childlessness in a marriage and will not blame the man”, and that this can “make the woman depressed”.

Discussing the value of writing, Ndidi Chiazor-Enenmor emphasised the need to use writing to change the narrative by advocating for society to stop putting pressure on people or asking couples unnecessary questions about childbearing in order to curb suicide, depression and other mental issues.

In a similar vein, Grace Flora Ohwobete observed that the story relates to present events, and called for reorientation against attacking women who are trying to conceive, as men can also experience infertility.

Lauding the author for the simplicity of language used in the book, Babatunde Oladele, Director of the LRF, observed that “the book gave an insight into the exposition of a certain culture of our people ethnic groups in Africa”. Bede Ehiogu, who moderated Sunday’s edition of the programme, also pointed out that the use of elements of dialogue, proverbs, stories within the story, and a traditional setting enriched the novel stylistically.

Funke Awodiya, a poet and lecturer at Afe Babalola University, agreed that folklore and stylistic choices such as a mixture of rural and urban settings made the book captivating. Stella Oladele also commented that “the author’s language flow is easy to understand and the storyline is captivating”, acknowledging that this makes the reader “eager to know what would happen at every turn of the page”.

In his closing address, the Director of the LRF, Babatunde Oladele, submitted that the LRF is in line with the Sustainable Development Goal, SDG 4, which is “quality learning for all human beings” and noted that the foundation is interested in promoting a reading culture both within and outside schools.

He informed the audience that the next edition of the quarterly Reading Culture Dialogue, which usually features panel discussions of issues affecting education and human capacity in Nigeria, will come up in October, and will focus on the issues surrounding the infamous ASUU strike. The reading came to a close at 6:25 p.m.

The next edition of the LRF book reading – which will feature a child author – comes up on 1 October 2023.

 


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