Sunday, 1 March 2015

The Epic Journey of Valentine Nkoyo from the Masai to Brilliant Books!

This week, we welcomed Masai Poet and culture specialist Valentine Nkoyo to Brilliant Books. 

Valentine was one of those girls you see on documentaries who lived a tribal life, including the daily 10 mile walk to the well with a Jerrycan strapped to her back. 

Not content with this life (without rejecting it), Valentine, intelligent and curious, wished to go to school. In Masai culture, brothers take precedence and as Valentine is from a polygamous family, there were an awful lot of brothers who took priority for any education her father could afford.

A determined and frustrated Valentine, a prodigious reader and lover of poetry and stories, composed a poem to her father. Bear in mind, girls in Masai culture are not allowed to speak directly to their father, so, by writing the poem, she was breaking a cultural tradition, which demonstrated that grit and determination.

Its well worth a watch. Anyway, the upshot was, her father cried for the first time in his life and promptly sold his prize bull to pay the fees for Valentine's education. 

Unfortunately, he died two months later and her elder brothers were not as keen as he to continue. However, over time, and after enduring seven years worth of fragmented opportunities, Valentine found herself over in Great Britain on a scholarship and here she remains. 

Valentine is an advisor to government on the issue of Female Genital Mutilation and is a passionate opponent of that cultural tradition, which is still common in some British communities. 

Brilliant Books is funded by the Big Lottery Fund

She also works in Media at Nottingham's Mojatu Foundation, print and media partners of Empleo, who deliver Brilliant Books on behalf of Seely School.

Her favourite book is Alice in Wonderland

which she encouraged the children to read. One of my favourite moments of Valentine's in-depth presentation was her discussion of the Masai's skill in jumping. Some of the Brilliant Books gang couldn't wait to copy.

Valentine also brought along tribal dress and adornments, which everyone had fun trying out.

All in all, it was a great session of Brilliant Books. In common with authors the world over, only a few of the children met the Editor's deadline (twas it ever thus -Ed!) so we have an extra week to get the short stories in. 

Next week, we have ex-pro footballer Tony Lormor coming to talk about his life after football and his desire to turn that into an inspirational book for young people. He has recently returned from a trek to the Arctic.

Two weeks to go!


Some of the boys and girls from Brilliant Books - soon to be authors!

1 comment:

  1. A truly inspiring guest on BB this week with an incredible story - thanks for sharing :-) the kids must have been enthralled by Valentine :-) Excellent post!