Monday, February 17, 2014

Meet Yejide Kilanko, author of Daughters Who Walk This Path

Meet Yejide Kilanko, author of Daughters Who Walk This Path  #daughterswwpp
About the Book

Spirited, intelligent Morayo grows up surrounded by school friends and a busy family in modern-day Ibadan, Nigeria. An adoring little sister, her traditional parents, and a host of aunties and cousins make Morayo’s home their own. So there’s nothing unusual about Morayo’s charming but troubled cousin, Bros T, moving in with the family. At first Morayo and her sister are delighted, but in her innocence, nothing prepares Morayo for the shameful secret Bros T forces upon her.
Thrust into a web of oppressive silence woven by the adults around her, Morayo must learn to fiercely protect herself and her sister; a legacy of silence many women in Morayo’s family share. Only Aunty Morenike—once protected by her own mother—provides Morayo with a safe home, and a sense of female community which sustains Morayo as she grows into a young woman in bustling, politically charged, often violent Nigeria.
Excerpt from Daughters Who Walk This Path
One evening, Daddy told us a folktale about a young man named Alao.
Daddy’s deep voice filled the room as he began: “Alo o,” he said.
“Alo!” Eniayo and I shouted back.  
“Oruku tindi tindi, oruku tindi tindi; My story rumbles, flys straight like an arrow and lands on the head of Alao. Alao was a handsome, hardworking young man. When he walked through the village, he made the young maidens giggle shyly behind their fingers. On the days that Alao went to the stream to take his bath, the maidens would line his path with their specially marked loofah sponges. They waited, each anxious for Alao to pick up their sponge as a sign of his interest. But to their dismay, Alao would walk by the sponges with his head held up high.”
Looking at each other with twinkling eyes, Eniayo and I giggled behind our palms. Pausing, Daddy smiled at us.
“One morning, Alao woke up to a terrible surprise. A sheep horn had grown right on top of his head! A panicked Alao ran, ran, and ran to the home of the village medicine man. The Abetiaja, long eared male cap, jammed tightly on his head, hid the hideous horn from view. The medicine man, Baba Oloogun, took one look at Alao’s head and shook his head. Baba Oloogun told Alao that there was only one remedy to the abomination growing on his head. That remedy was a potion made from the fresh excrement of an earthworm and the blood of a newborn flea. A desperate Alao searched high and low for the items but all his searches were in vain.  
“To the dismay of the village maidens, Alao no longer took his baths at the stream. Friends aksed why Alao no longer wanted to participate in the wrestling matches where he had excelled.
“But how could he? Alao wondered. What if his cap fell off his head during one of the wrestling matches?
“Finally, when he could no longer bear the heavy weight of his secret, he shared it with his best friend. For months, Alao’s friend kept the secret. However, as time passed by, keeping the secret became more and more difficult. In desperation, Alao’s friend ran into the forest at the edge of the village and whispered the secret into the hollow of a large Odan tree. Relieved, he quickly filled the hole with dead leaves and went back to the village.”
Eniayo and I shifted on our spots. The fading blue lights of the kerosene lamp left shadows on Daddy’s thin face.
“All was well until the day a great windstorm blew though the village. The powerful wind shook the trees vigorously until their heads bowed in submission. The dead leaves Alao’s friend had stuffed into the hollow of the Odan tree fell out, scattering in the wind. Alao’s secret rose amongst the tree branches, filling the pores of the broad leaves. The dancing leaves started chanting softy, Alao wu iwo, Alao wu iwo, Alao has a horn, Alao has a horn. Swift winds carrying the words blew them right over the village huts. Soon, the whole village knew Alao’s shocking secret.
“The adoring looks on the faces of the village maidens changed to looks of disgust. Who wanted a monster for a husband? Little children ran, hiding under their mother’s wrappers when Alao walked by. Only the gods could have cursed Alao, the villagers whispered in little groups that dispersed as soon as they saw him coming. One by one, his friends stopped coming to his hut to drink palm wine and to play the ayo game.  
“One day, the villagers woke up to find that Alao had packed up his belongings in the middle of the night and left. His footsteps led them straight to the edge of the river. His fishing canoe was gone. They never saw him again.”
When Daddy finished the story, we sat there quietly. Even Mummy’s knitting fingers stayed still for a while.
Eniayo suddenly spoke up. She looked puzzled: “Daddy?”
“Yes, Arewa.”
I watched my sister’s pale face as she searched for the questions. “Why…What does it mean?”
Daddy had once told us that folk stories were the mediums by which our ancestors taught life lessons. Now, as he smiled proudly at Eniayo,  I wished I had been the one to ask the question.
“The lesson,” he said, “is that if you don’t want everyone to know your secret, don’t share it with anyone.”

About the Author
Yejide Kilanko was born in Ibadan, a sprawling university city in south-western Nigeria. She read just about anything she could lay her hands on and that love for reading led her to poetry writing when she was twelve. After a big, loud, African wedding, she joined her husband in Maryland, USA. For a decade she stayed home to raise their three children, moved to Canada and went back to school to become a social worker.
Yejide started writing her debut novel, Daughters Who Walk This Path, in 2009. It was published by Penguin Canada April 2012 with subsequent publication in the United States, Germany and Thailand in 2013.Her second novel will be published by Penguin Canada, May 2014. Visit the author online at

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