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March 14, 2021

ONE LOVE: Over 100 Years of Jamaicans contributing to Nigeria’s development

“One love, one heart; let’s get together…” sang the legendary music icon Bob Marley.

By Chris Onuoha

Interestingly, more than half century before Bob Marley made this call, two nations, in two separate continents, were already bonding together in one love.

In the words of the Author, this book which she aptly titled ONE LOVE ‘reflects the unity and affection between Nigeria and Jamaica. ’It is a historical voyage through a century of social interactions, diplomatic ties, culture mix, and marriages between Nigerians and Jamaicans.

Long before the reggae beats hit the Nigerian space with the ever popular Jah rhymes and rhythms, some Jamaicans were already sojourned in the southern Nigerian region whilst engaging in ‘evangelism, education, health, agriculture, engineering, politics, media, public and private sector works.’

ONE LOVE has been described by Wole Soyinka as ‘A most essential contribution to the literature of the African diapora’.

Published in 2020, a significant year marking fifty years of diplomatic ties between Nigeria and Jamaica, this book chronicles historical facts and genuine stories, captures brief profiles as well as biographies, and exhibits exceptionally beautiful photographs of Jamaican men and women who came, lived and were integrated as family into the Nigerian society. ONE LOVE covers almost two centuries from the first interactions Jamaicans had with Nigerians which trails from the pre-amalgamation era (1846-1914), pre-independence era (1915-1960), until post-independence (1961-2020).

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The Author chooses to create a documentary devoid of hearsays, speculative or unfounded facts. She opts for simplicity and modesty as she profiles fifty individuals, focusing on their careers and family ties. She traces their roots and journeys from the West Indies to West Africa.

Although, the Author- Mrs. Koko Kalango writes this book as a project documenting the socio-economic and political contributions of Jamaicans to Nigeria’s development, she passionately outlines conversations from interviews she had had, with insightful commentaries. A descendant of the two worlds – Nigeria and West Indies, she felt the inspiration to document this side of history on her fiftieth birthday, during an emotional trip and visit to the grave site of her grandparents in Jamaica.

For lovers of history, and persons who appreciate non-fictional and historical truths, ONE LOVE will suitably provide a smooth read, uncover some legendary historical figures, and may even reveal some pleasantly surprised facts about the origin of some personalities they may have met or have heard about.

The book has received interesting reviews. Novelist and historian, Chibundu Onuzu says it is ‘An important addition to the history of Nigeria.’ According to Nigeria’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, ONE LOVE is a ‘must-read for diplomats, researchers, the academia, and the general public.’ Kamina Johnson-Smith, Jamaica’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade heartily commends the author ‘..on this creative and inspired perspective on Jamaicans in Nigeria and the Jamaican-Nigeria relations’. Jamaican High Commissioner to Nigeria, Esmond Reid says ‘The timing of this book’s publication is especially poignant, in the midst of growing global awareness of the challenges faced by persons of African descent, in asserting their rights and dignity across the Diaspora’.  Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says ‘To our Jamaican-Nigerians, we are honoured that life led you here and this book is a reminder that your contributions are felt, embraced and appreciated.’

ONE LOVE is a book that speaks and at the same time appeals. Written by Amanda Abili