Portrait of a new author

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It is with a really happy heart that I am doing this column today. I am dwelling on a remarkable personality who has written a remarkable book that is due to be released at 3.00p.m. to the public tomorrow, Saturday, November, 2019 at Terra Culture in Victoria Island in this Lagos that is our Lagos. In writing about the shrewd author and her splendid book, my intention really is not to praise her or to recommend her book: the book is one good, very good and very splendid book that recommends itself as you shortly shall find once your hands possess it.

The book in question is one book about children for children which every parent, every guardian, every adult, every teacher, every headmaster, every library and every lover of books that are remarkably and splendidly good should have and recommend. I don’t really wish to comment on the book because I want any reader who reads it to decide whether it is fruitful as any book of its nature and category should be. But it is necessary that I say a few words relating to the rich and clear ideas of it – even if what I say will amount to paraphrasing aspects of the life of the ingenious author and her work.

I have known the young author who has entered the house of authors and authorship with her new book for as long as her birth-history is created and re-created in my flowering and flowery memory. She was a very, very precocious child who did wonderfully well in school – primary and secondary where she was an all-rounder academically and extra-academically. She was equally as brilliant in science subjects as in arts as well as in social science subjects. She was a highly voracious reader who read everything readable at a very young age. She also participated effectively and richly in her secondary school’s extra-curricular activities. She was a high class athlete in her secondary school where she excelled in 100 and 400 metres.

She was in the school’s regular 100×400 relay team. And, at a time, her principal, a tennis don, wanted her to take to tennis because she saw a future Nigerian champion in her. She, it is necessary to so state it, was a leading member of her school’s debating team that did her school proud in debating contests. Significantly, she was a very able dancer and adventurer, who equally was a radiant beauty contestant and winner – who at a time toyed with the thought of wanting to be a model. Yes, she toyed with the thought of wanting to be a model until she was reminded of her promise to herself after she met Dr. Wale Okediran, a medical doctor, writer and politician and a former President of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA). Dr. Okediran was her father’s guest. The night the celebrity writer and medical doctor spent with her father filled her with great hope of wanting to be a medical doctor as well as an author – like Wale Okediran in whom she saw a would-be elderly professional colleague whose fraternal pep-chat she found definitely pleasing. Of course, her father was/is also a writer as a poet, critic, essayist, public intellectual and columnist, but not a medical doctor, to boot.

While writing this portrait of the author (I would have preferred “of the conjurer of dreams”), I must urgently tell you that she entered medical school when it was time for her to be a creature of higher education. She successfully completed her Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery degree here in Nigeria (Igbinedion University, our country’s first private university that equally was the first privately owned one to run a medical school) and thereafter proceeded to England – Northumbria University, Newcastle where she earned a Masters of Public Health degree (with distinction). This was after she received relevant parts of her pre-graduate training at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital and at the University of Lagos University Teaching Hospital and graduate training at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital. She also became an Associate Fellow of the National Post-graduate Medical College of Nigeria, Faculty of Public Health before her very successful post-graduate medical adventure in the United Kingdom.

Since her return to Nigeria she has been “passionate about improving the health and wellbeing of women and children” as “a practicing Public Health physician.” Evidence of her successful practice is her new book which captures various aspects of her training and interactions with sundry persons and charmingly varied childhood experiences pertaining to her fruitful knowledge of them. And the name of the scintillating book is Healthy Kids Are Happy Kids: Health Education for Children, Parents and Teachers published by Krafts Books Limited, a top Nigerian publishing company whose published books have won several laurels. The blurb of the book goes thus:
“Take your child or pupil through the wonderful world of health with interesting characters teaching health principles in a fun way.

With charming stories, pictures, games, puzzles and fun activities, this book will lay the foundation for a life of healthy living in children, both physically and mentally. It covers topics like healthy eating, exercise, healthy habits, building mental resilience and child-appropriate sex education. Give your kids a head-start on success and wellbeing with this wonderful and interesting book.”

I fully agree. If I had such a book when I was raising my kids and wards, I would have raised them differently. In any case, let us take a listen to what Dr. Wale Okediran who wrote the foreword to the book says:

“Healthy Kids Are Happy Kids….teaches kids not only about various medical conditions, but also how to prevent them. Although principally written for children, this book is also invaluable to adults, especially parents and guardians, who are expected to guide their children and wards in their healthy walk through life. Since it offers many concrete ways for children to learn about the human body and preventable ailments, Healthy Kids Are Happy Kids, with its charming stories that are accessible to children, comes highly recommended.”

Is there anything more for me to say? Yes, of course. With this book, this new book called Healthy Kids Are Happy Kids that is as clean and as clear as a whistle, the author has distinguished herself in the act and art of authorship. In her chosen profession of medicine and in her vocation of writing (she is already working on a straightforward novel that corresponds to medicine and quite precisely to public health), her limit must be the sky. Dr. Wale Okediran must cherish his “mentee” who is following his foot-steps as a medical practitioner and as a writer as well. “I hope to use my training as a doctor and public health physician and as a happy reader-writer to help transform our country. Our kids must be well nurtured to build and re-build Nigeria. This can’t be too tall a dream.” She told me this with unquestionably profound enthusiasm.

Now, who is this new author? She is Dr. (Mrs) Anirejuoritse Alero Chima-Oduko (nee AFEJUKU) – who is combining happy and healthy womanhood, motherhood and wifehood with a happy and a healthy writing career that her job at Lagos University Teaching Hospital as a medical residentiary eloquently makes allowance for. And her hearty hubby conspicuously shares in her happy happiness.
Afejuku can be reached via 08055213059.
Afejuku can be reached via 08055213059.

The Guardian

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