By The Book Swap Team
The first writer being interviewed for our monthly African Authors feature is a shining star in the Nigerian children's book publishing industry - Tonye Faloughi.
Not only is she the founder and Managing director of Teeof Media, she is also a Special Needs advocate and a benevolent contributor to The Book Swap Initiative’s revolving and evolving library.
This is what she had to say about herself, her life with her children, who are her inspiration. She also describes her beliefs about the need for books that are relevant and inclusive in representation.
Please introduce yourself, who are you? “I am a wife, mother and entrepreneur. I head up TEEOF Media Limited an entertainment production consulting company”
What do you write about and why? ”I write the Ugo and Sim Sim storybook series and the Ugo and Sim Sim Toddler Board Books. The books are based on my children Ugo and Simone.”
Why do you write? “At 4.5 months my daughter was diagnosed with Down syndrome and heart failure at 5 months and life completely changed as we fought to save her life. After heart surgery, it took almost 3 years for her to fully recover. At the same time, her older brother was a growing toddler. I began to look for children's books that spoke to both their lives and noticed a severe lack of entertainment representing black children, special needs children and those who fall into both categories. Hence, the creation of Ugo & Sim Sim: a series of stories based on my own children.”
What did reading stories do for you as a child? “I was an avid reader as a child and even won the reading prize in boarding school. I discovered new things, places, experiences and could indulge my imagination. Stories offered a sense of escapism and adventure.”
Why do you think it's a good idea for people to donate to sponsor an initiative like The Book Swap Foundation? “Reading is the foundation to learning, even before you can actually read! Picture books offer emerging readers a chance to explore and connect images to the words and to the story. Access to books is urgently needed due to lack of libraries, books in school, lack of good distribution channels as well as cost.”
What do you want to contribute to the future of African childhood? “I would like to empower and inspire the African child to tell their own stories. For them to understand that they have value and worth because they see themselves represented. That they too can learn the skills to story tell in whatever medium (illustration, animation, tv and film, audio etc.)
For me the first step is access, the second is skillshare and ensure the future of us telling our own story, in whatever format, the third step (in tandem with step 2) is owning our own robust distribution channels. Hence my platform Simone’s Oasis of which Ugo and Sim Sim is one of our brand products. At Simone’s Oasis we empower the African child through edutainment.
You can find Simone’s Oasis on Youtube; @simonesoasis on FB, IG and Twitter. Our broadcast block airs nationwide on Saturday mornings 8am-10am WAT Pineapple TV CH 129 Startimes. We will also be broadcasting soon via TVC.
Our streaming app dedicated to African kids content with Videos, Music and E-books on-demand launches later this year.
The Book Swap Foundation is passionate about supporting and stimulating the book publishing industry in Nigeria. In the face of a growing digital revolution, we still believe it’s vitally important that physical books are a part of every kids’ childhood. A wonderful way to do this is by highlighting some of the inspiring works written for African children by African Authors.