Memories of Grandma (A childhood memoir)

Congratulatory message on the public presentation of “Memories of Grandma (A childhood memoir) by Funke-Treasure Durodola” by Mrs. Eugenia Abu

As a broadcaster she breaks the bank to bring it time and again, as a trainer, she believes it’s the best thing, to impart, impact and show by example, now as an author, she brings us all to tears with her new beguiling book Memories of Grandma (A Childhood memoir).
Funke Treasure Durodola is a broadcaster after my heart, following in the footsteps of her forebears, drinking deep of the wisdom of her mentors and becoming herself a formidable product of an incredible Nigerian Broadcast tradition.
I celebrate her today as she launches her book Memories of Grandma (A childhood memoir) an example of storytelling at its best.

When she sent me excerpts from South Africa where she was studying last year, I laughed, I cried, I fell over myself and I remembered.
I remembered both my grandmothers and the amazing stories they told me. I remembered my village and the countryside and the breathtaking beauty of Nigeria.

I recommend this book to everyone. Its exciting and warm and interesting.
Buy one, give one to a friend, buy 12 for your old school library, send it as gifts during festive seasons.

As an author of two books myself, I welcome Funke to the special club of Authors and to let you know that Aunty Eugenia is very proud of you.

Remember the writing bug is like the broadcast bug, once it bites you, you can never depart it. Now you have to write another book after this one and another and another. But lets celebrate this new birth.

Congratulations Funke!
May your ink never dry.

Thank you all for coming.

Mrs. Eugenia Abu
Executive Director Programmes

The Nigerian Television Authority

Headquarters Garki Abuja

 

Review of Memories of Grandma by Aderemi Raji-Oyelade

Durodola and the Artistry of Remembrance

Title: Memories of Grandma
Author: Fúnkẹ́-Treasure Dúródọlá
Pages: 140
Publishers: INDN Books
Year of Publication:
Reviewer: Aderemi Raji-Oyelade

Memories of childhood are difficult and delicate to recollect and share with others who may or may not be aware of the uniqueness of the narrator’s experience.

When delivered with competent aplomb, the reader is the beneficiary who is allowed to enter into the private world of the author. But the author herself does greater service to literature, self and society by trapping those flitting images and intimations of youth in the permanence of the written word.

Fúnkẹ́-Treasure Dúródọlá’s Memories of Grandma is the author’s recollection of her memorable experiences with her maternal grandmother as a ten-year-old girl. Here is a simply delectable narrative of an inquisitive child who bonds with her grandmother. To the surprise of her mother, Fúnkẹ́ asks her grandmother during one of her regular visits to Ìjẹ̀bú Òde what she does for living. Why is grandmother always sleeping while everyone is away to work?

Although, Fúnkẹ́’s mother is very annoyed about this, to Grandma, the little girl’s question only betrays the curiosity in a child of her age. This makes Grandma invites her to Ọdẹ Òmu to spend her holiday with her. What follows after this is an unbreakable affinity between grandmother and granddaughter. Fúnkẹ́ is given larger meals by Grandma unlike her mother. Aside this, she becomes the lone listener to Grandma’s fascinating folktales.

In the course of recollecting this past with the grandmother, Fúnkẹ́ also goes on to talk about other blood relations of hers. She takes the reader into the life of hunting and cocoa farming through her maternal grandfather. Through her child’s viewpoint, she also narrates her visit with her parents, cousins and other relations to her paternal grandparents in the farm settlement of Gídi in Ìbàdàn. Her paternal grandfather is Bàbá L’óko because the old man is a farmer and stays in a farm settlement, unlike the maternal grandmother who is Bàbá Pupa because of his fair skin.

Apparently, the story tells much about other characters even as it revolves around the child-narrator’s maternal grandmother. For instance, Fúnkẹ́ gives an interesting account of her paternal grandmother’s roles when her mother gives birth to a set of twins. It is through her that she understands that twins are special, god-like children among the Yorùbás. She recalls how the paternal grandmother, Ìyá Alákàrà sings praisesongs and recites chants around the twin-child to calm down her young twin-siblings anytime they are crying or feeling uneasy.

However, the maternal grandmother remains Dúródọlá’s most celebrated character in the story. In fact, the presence of Ìyá Alákàrà in the first instance is because Grandma “is busy with business and other family issues for two weeks, so [Ìyá Alákàrà] helped out” (82). A very significant role Grandma later plays in the lives of the twins comes up when Fúnkẹ́’s mother who is a teacher needs someone to help her in nursing the children. Grandma stops working as a trader and nurses the twins for three years. Thus, to Fúnkẹ́, “Grandma was a kind woman, who loved my mum dearly because she gave up her business for her” (89).

As her first book, Fúnkẹ́-Treasure Dúródọlá’s Memories of Grandma serves many interests that are far from and larger than what the book appears. Clearly, it belongs to the class of children literature. As a child memoir, it belongs in the prestigious circle of such earlier works as Mabel Segun’s My Father’s Daughter (1965) and Wole Soyinka’s Ake (1981). In its stylistic rendition, its mature representation of the voice of innocence, Dúródọlá’s work achieves a certain artistry which is rare in most first published books. Indeed, Memories of Grandma is a landmine; it is when you step on it that you know it has always been there. It is history, geography and sociology creatively intertwined. It is also language beautifully expressed. For the adult reader especially, it is when you read it that you will perceive its linguistic aesthetics. The narrative structure reads like a compendium of folktales, chants, praises and words that are representative of the pristine Yoruba indigenous society.

In all its simplicity, the content of the book on the other hand veils some complexity. Without being told, the children-reader will be aware that apart from the apparent function of pleasure which children’s literature serves, Memories of Grandma has made them vicarious participants in the life of a character that is much around them.

Without exaggerating, Memories of Grandma is a good reader’s companion. Dúródọlá’s representation of characters and events and use of words are manifestations of a rare artistic ingenuity. She is able to simultaneously meet the taste of the children and adult readers without any specialized compounding of meaning to satisfy the latter. It is a children’s book that will be found fascinating to child and adult readers, a good material addition to the sustenance of a good reading culture and literary appreciation. This is a well-written child autobiography. It will no doubt attract critical attention in higher institutions and courses taught in autobiographical literature. Apart from this, it is a source of information for researchers in sociology, history, anthropology and human culture.

Those who love language and their preservations and translations must appreciate Dúródọlá for providing the glossary of words (pp. 135-140) in which she offers the meanings of a selected number of Yoruba words used in the book. This will be of great benefit to both young and uninformed speakers of the language.

In Memories of Grandma, Fúnkẹ́-Treasure Dúródọlá has bequeathed to us a treasure of tales, as titillating as they are truthful to her creative autobiographical imagination. It remains for the author to share with us her memories of grandpa too.

Aderemi Raji-Oyelade
January 30, 2015