Grandmothers symbolise different things to children. For young Funke, Grandma could never do wrong, Grandma meant travel, variety of traditional meals, entry into the wisdom of the aged, folk tales, songs and an excursion into the strange world of adults, who ‘always have a reason for everything’. Grandma was generous with folktales on demand, each merry with its own song!
Memories of Grandma is about a lived culture of the Yoruba ethnic group in Western Nigeria. It is about the author’s personal walk with her maternal grandmother and her perception of her other grand parents. It is the transfer of norms and values from a generation to another , the ideology of culture, a ‘lived’ experience. The celebration of that inter-relatedness. Grandma signified all of these and more.
The setting is Western Nigeria of the early 80’s, when most Nigerians maintained vegetable gardens close to their homes, men rode Vespar scooters and motor cycles for leisure; when Peugeot 404 was the cool car for mid-income families, when seeing a corpse on the street was rare and close to an abomination; when public schools were as good as the private ones. It was the days of Kingsway and Leventis stores and Odutola stores in Ijebu Ode. The days without traffic gridlocks, when parents returned home early enough from the office, to be involved in their children’s development and upbringing.
In the book, Funke visited Grandma on two major holidays; one was in Ode-Omu, the other was at the farm house in Dagbolu. The book also covered periods when Grandma also visited Funke and family in Ijebu Ode. In reality, it is a compression of several visits and holidays into a manageable and sequential bit using the short story format.
Memories of Grandma is particularly written for teenagers in this generation who are caught in the ‘crossfire’ of the old and modern styles of living and who continually struggle to define their identities in a rapidly changing world.