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A Family That Reads Together?

Posted on March 1, 2012 at 11:50 AM

Written by Janelle Oswald

01/03/2012- http://voice-online.co.uk/article/family-reads-together%E2%80%A6


CELEBRATING 15 years of World Book Day today The Voice spoke to Mark and Charmaine Simpson, founders of Black History Studies.


Advocators of African heritage and culture, the couple were inspired to set up their business to inform, inspire and empower people through black history.


Authors of The Great and Mighty Wall, which tells the forgotten tale of an ancient Nigerian Queen, the Simpsons reveal tips on how to get your child reading and also how to encourage adults to pick up a book again!


How important is it for children to read?

It is highly important for children to read. Reading develops the child’s mind and depending on what they read enhances their knowledge levels. It is also important for black children to identify with what they are reading, and read positive things about people that look like them. This helps to build their racial esteem, which can only be good for the child.


How can parents encourage their children to read?

Parents can encourage their children to read by getting involved and physically read with their child, making reading fun as opposed to it being a chore. They should also make reading an everyday event for example, getting them to put up labels around the house, read road signs while walking or driving, reading out aloud a shopping list and product names while shopping.


What inspired you to write The Great and Mighty Wall?

The children are our future and I believe it is important for them to know that we have a rich history. The book is a tribute to both Queen Bilikisu Sungbo and the people of Nigeria, with its wonderful history and achievements that have been overlooked, ignored and suppressed by the rest of the world. We were inspired by the facts surrounding the history of Eredo in Nigeria and could not believe that an amazing place like this was not common knowledge so we wanted to raise awareness of this amazing achievement in our history.

Who was Queen Bilikisu?

Queen Bilikisu Sungbo lived over a thousand years ago between 800 and 1000 AD who is sometimes mistaken for the Queen of Sheba who was also known as ‘Bilqis’. Some say Bilikisu and Bilqis is the same person, but we believe that this is not possible because the Queen of Sheba, aka Bilqis lived approximately 1000BC, which is two thousand years before Queen Bilikisu Sungbo.


Queen Bilikisu Sungbo was a wealthy and childless Yoruba queen who built the great and mighty wall to protect her kingdom from outsiders and lions. You can visit the great and mighty wall with your children, which is located approximately 60 miles from Lagos.


If you change the world through books and education for children, what three things would you change?

Make it compulsory to teach African history to all children, regardless of race, from preschool onwards. This would deal with the current mis-education taking place in schools every day.


Make it compulsory that all adults learn about African history. This would deal with the myths andother forms of mis-education that they were taught about Africa and Africans as children. It would also help them to understand why we are in the situation that we are in as a race and hopefully prompt them into making a change for the betterment of our people.


Make sure that our rich history is distributed globally, whether by books, films, cartoons, theatre etc.


How can adults fall back in love with reading?

Adults can begin to read again by making reading informative and inspirational. Think about famous people that may have influenced your life in a positive way and read their autobiography such as Malcolm X, Nelson Mandela or Dr Martin Luther King. It is also important that children see their parents read because it encourages them to read. Remember, the parent is the child’s first teacher, and the child from a young age usually follows what they see their parents doing.


What have been some of your most loved books that you have read about your heroes and sheroes?

We could go on and on because we have read countless biographies as we promote reading during our BHS classes. Some of our favourites books are based on the lives of the Honourable Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Queen Nanny of the Maroons, Sam Sharpe, Ida B. Wells- Barnett, Paul Bogle and Winnie Mandela.


What is your favourite African proverb?

One of our favourite African proverbs is – ‘The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree’, which means, the child is a reflection of his or her parents so get reading this World Book Day. In the wise words of El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Malcolm X): "Education is your passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today".

Categories: Cultural News

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