The second instalment of the workshop for children’s book illustrators and authors hosted by Goethe Institute Nigeria from 16th to 20th March 2020, featured a unique collective of twelve creatives drawn from different parts of the country.
The twelve, tagged storymakers, were shortlisted from an open call made last year for children book authors and illustrators.
Children book authors are not a popular lot in this clime. You could mention twenty authors off the top of your head and not one would make the list.
I was curious about the unique makeup of a children’s book author and so I asked. The sentiments were unanimous.
You had to have read many editions of the famed Enid Blighton series, watched all the popular animation titles and more importantly gained a deep understanding of how children think.
The common denominator among the shortlisted participants of the storymakers workshop was that they are all unusually excited about children books. A fact that they tried desperately to convey with animated gestures and expressions. Their childlike excitement was infectious too. I watched as they melded single lines into distinquishable forms and blended in colours.
One of the participants joked that there are as much children books as there are comics in Nigeria.
The aim of the workshop, as proffered by the convener, Goethe Institute Nigeria, is to develop affordable children’s books for the Nigerian market, which tell imaginative, yet realistic, stories that reflect the country’s social and cultural environment.
The week-long workshop facilitated by award-winning cartoonist and illustrator Abdulkareem Baba Aminu , was an eye-opener to the world of crafting stories for children. ( German author and illustrator, Ute Krause could not make it because of travel restrictions arising from the Coronavirus pandemic.)
Despite Ute Krause’ absence, Abdulkareem Baba Aminu facilitated the one-week workshop alone like a pro, wielding pencil and paint as he animatedly gave out instructions.
On what the overall plan was, Baba Aminu explained that, “the project would help expand the horizon of people who are interested in writing and illustrating children books.”
The participants were paired into teams of one illustrator to a writer and tasked with creating a complete book project.
“The institute believes strongly that there should be quality reading materials out there for children and that there is enough talent in Nigeria to produce them”, Baba Aminu explained.
The plan is to select the best stories at the end of the workshop, and publish them . The storymakers’ initiative hopes to spark curiosity for children’s books around Nigeria and inspire new authors into the space.
Baba Aminu Mustafa
Francis Umendu Odupute