By Chukwuma Ajakah
Twelve-year-old Adaeze McPhillips Nwachukwu, daughter of a late prolific writer, poet and former Vanguard Arts Editor, McPhillips Nwachukwu has joined the league of children literature writers with her debut collection of short stories titled, Keeping My Father’s Legacy and Other Stories.
The child prodigy whose writing style and profundity belie her age captures contemporary societal issues such as kidnapping, child labour, early marriage and exploitation of the less privileged in the collection which features stories such as The Wicked Maid, The Greedy Alice and the Parrot, Tomorrow is Pregnant, How Maltreated Orphans became Successful, Richard and His Children, Remembering My Father (Or My Daddy, My Hero) and Keeping My Father’s Legacy.
Adaeze’s precociousness resonates in the narratives, revealing deep-seated wisdom which she further reinforces with explicitly stated moral lessons. Arranged in seven chapters and thirty-six pages, the book published by Inspiration Publishers, Lagos (2021) encapsulates folkloric tales and contemporary narratives with subtitles that pinpoint divergent socio-cultural and economic thematic concerns.
Keeping My Father’s Legacy and Other Stories is brilliantly narrated in lucid prose with each story holding the reader spellbound. The stories contain children’s friendly illustrative pictures that align with the subject matters and depict the central messages. The themes embedded in the stories include retributive justice, greed and its consequences, true love and forgiveness, child abuse and maltreatment of children, fate of orphans in an uncaring society and the inevitability of change.
Explaining how she started her writing career in the introduction, the young author unveils her source of inspiration, saying: “My father died when I was four years and eight months. As I began to grow up, I started reading story books. I also began to learn many beautiful things about writing. I was inspired by the several books I read and my father’s counsel…” Speaking further on her passion for writing, Adaeze remarks that “Ability to write gives added meaning to every other thing one does in life. But, it is far more fulfilling if one’s writing is able to inspire others…”
Although the primary target audience is young readers, Keeping My Father’s Legacy and Other Stories cuts across all reading age brackets with its incisive stories.
Chapter Three subtitled “Keeping My Father’s Legacy” and Chapter Seven captioned, “My Daddy, My Hero” is narrated from the first-person narrative point of view while the rest are in the third-person perspective.
The language of Adaeze’s collection of stories is simple. The narration is also characterized by the formulaic expressions that traditional folklores are known for.
This is evident in the opening paragraphs of the following: The Wicked Maid, Tomorrow Is Pregnant and How Maltreated Orphans Became Successful.
The first two begin with “Once upon a time…” while the latter opens with the topic sentence, “There was a man named Emeka who lived in the city of Aba.”
The author uses such expressions to enhance suspense as the reader’s interest is aroused and sustained through them.