Africa Amazing Africa
Published on: 28 October 2019 Author: Atinuke
The fantastic Atinuke tells us about writing Amazing Africa and reconnecting with the continent of her birth.
I had such fun writing Amazing Africa. All my life I have been fascinated by continent of my birth.
I am intrigued by it's waterfalls and snowy mountains, by it's crazy chaotic cities and blinding deserts, by the diversity of it's languages and its tales of ancient kingdoms and rulers.
The richest person that ever lived was a King of Mali who caused the first banking crisis in Europe!
My love of the cultures and colours of the country of my birth, Nigeria, is one of the driving factors of my fiction. Through my fiction I share with children all over the world the fun and joy and colour and craziness of Nigerian life.
But I got to the point of wanting to write solely about the facts that fascinate me. I wanted to focus on the things that intrigue and inspire me about the whole of the African continent, without any focus on story at all.
At first I didn't know how I was going to go about writing a book about the African continent. My first idea was a rather complicated Alphabet book. But in the end I could not bear to leave out any of the 55 African countries.
Every single African country is so different and so diverse.
Some are desert countries. Some have climates like California. Some have mega cities with cutting edge technologies and hospitals and tech facilities. Some countries children still herd goats and camels and have cultures where play and love and patience and respect are more important than money. Their histories and geography are all so different!
Educationally it was important to include them all in the book. So many children still think of Africa as being a country, not a continent. So I decided devote a page to each country. And to show the diversity between the countries as well as what they have in common.
Africa, Amazing Africa is my first non-fiction book and I didn't know what I was getting into when I started to write it. I had a lot that I already knew but I knew I had a lot to learn. So I dived head first into research and spent many happy months immersed in everything I could find online and in book and museums and in the heads and memories and experiences of friends and family. There was so much to learn I got lost in there for a while. It was hard to know when and where to stop. And even harder to choose what to say, and what to leave out.
One of my favorite facts which is not in the book is that there was a great library in Egypt, in the city of Alexandria. This library was a great centre for learning, and around it lived and worked some of the greatest scholars of all time. The library was burned down by the Romans and along with all the books, some of that knowledge has been lost forever.
I love the facts that in some places on the African continent it is traditional for men to cover their heads and faces, not women. And that we have our fair share of snowy mountains and skiing. And that elephants and lions and people can thrive not only in the fertile grasslands but in forests and deserts too - their habits and bodies adapt becoming bigger or smaller or changing shape. One that children love is that we have factories making coca-cola on the African continent and one of coke's first ingredients was the West African kola nut.
I wrote list and lists of these facts when I was researching - and they all had to be checked three times by a fact checker.
It was frustrating when I had forgotten to write down where I had heard or read or seen something and the fact checker could find no proof.
My most favorite fact of all is that we are all of African origin. All of us are descended from the first humans who evolved in Africa. A small group of these left the continent and went on to populate the whole of the rest of the world.