With the way kids are becoming precocious nowadays, there is no doubt that the next generation of leaders will overdose with potential. Children are causing ripples in different industries and giving a whole new definition to the ‘Catch Them Young’ concept. Beating the odds and emerging legends in their prime (even before), some young talents are the ones doing the ‘catching.’ Barely two months ago, family, friends and well-wishers convened at the Terra Kulture in Victoria Island in Lagos to honor the prodigious exploits of a six-year pupil of Grande Oakbridge Montessori School, in Lekki, Lagos State. The occasion was the ten-year-old’s official launching of her two books – Concealed and Chidubem: A Child of Destiny.
Munachi Mbonu authored these two titles to entertain her cousins, until her mother, Ifeoma Mbonu, urged her to look out for a wider audience. The read Concealed is a story that centers on a group of young friends in school learning love and value – an inspiration by TV series drama titled Friends. Chidubem, in turn, is a read about a boy who is in the process of adapting to city life after relocating from a village setting – a narrative that was triggered by her interaction with her cousins who have had the same experience.
According to the child author, her mother doesn’t like her watching television for long periods of time, and would always ask them (Munachi and her cousins) into their rooms when the house becomes somewhat noisy. Ifeoma would urge them to read and do book reviews. It was during this time that Munachi tapped into the flow of her creative juices and began penning down her stories which she handed to her cousins to read. Reported by her mother to have started the art of writing at the age of seven, Munachi is what some people would call a miracle of a child. She got her first laptop at five, with which she would sketch images and write short stories about them. Her mother bought lots of books for her during the holidays and would ask her to do reviews on them – an exercise that has culminated in about six original books written.
Munachi, who is from Anambra State, wrote a story her mother found interesting and amusing, after which she was urged to introduce her works to older people. Her mother, who always told Munachi to imagine herself contesting for a presidential seat in Nigeria and write a manifesto forthwith, was the sole encouragement the youngster initially had. She arranged a meet with an editor who, having read the manuscript, was impressed by the creative talent of Munachi. Trying to reduce the noise and array that kids could wreak while playing at home, the mother would go as far as instructing them to write business plans for future entrepreneurship. Developing her flair for writing from the time, Munachi started a business that solves the reading culture problem.
At the launching of her debuts in Lagos, Munachi disclosed that it was a challenge to balance her authoring of two books with the as-at-then ongoing preparations for common entrance examinations, coupled with the heckload of homework she had to do. The ten-year-old had to sacrifice her weekends for check all the boxes, while drastically reading her television and play time, just so she’d be able to seal the deal with her reads. Munachi has made money from the sales of these books, which celebrates her as a child entrepreneur and a ripple causer in the making. She attributes her motivation to her mother and draws inspiration as well as counsel from role models Ngozi Chimamanda Adichie and Roald Dahl. Munachi markets her books on social media platforms, TV shows and through one-on-one marketing, from where were she gets real-time patronage and profits.
According to the author, her books stand out from other works by children because of the indigenous idea at play. Unlike other child authors who are of the belief that their stories must be imbued with foreign content, Munachi’s reads are filled with local names and dishes. Her diction is as such that the average Nigerian can understand, compared to other books which make use of foreign cultures somewhat hard for Nigerians to relate to. This clever lass is on a mission to tell African stories with the contemporary style, and as well encourage the reading culture in Nigeria. And like other ‘entrepreneurs’ out there, she does have challenges. Coming back from school all worn out is chief of them, but each time the thought of a pending story comes to mind, she is quickly energized and set to manufacture ideas.
Munachi is a believer in child talent, and she urges every kid out there to build on their potentials because the future of Nigeria rests on these young shoulders. She implores her equals out there not to be discouraged by their age or present situations, but to seek the development of their skills for the buildup of a better nation. With the way robots are becoming automatic, Munachi says that “Very soon there would be no need for employment.” So children “Need to start doing something about their futures now, remembering that Bill Gates said ‘If you die poor, it’s your fault,’ and that the current position doesn’t determine the thereafter.