Frances Lincoln Limited
Seen through the eyes of a small boy named Ikenna, here is a very special account of how a small Igbo community in Nigeria traditionally honours the dead. Ifeoma Onyefulu’s thoughtful photographs and text offer not only a glimpse into Africa village life, but also a positive introduction to a difficult subject. Ikenna starts to feel different as soon as he puts on his new white clothes. His grown-up relatives keep an all-night wake, dancing and singing for Mama Nkwelle. On the big day a 21 gun salute is fired to begin the celebration. In Mama Nkwelle’s now empty house, her decorated bed is brought into the sitting-room, adorned with her picture. The priest says prayers, then kola nuts are offered and dancing begins to the sound of drums. Ikpuawa (gifts) of cloth are brought, and Ikenna is asked to offer a gift too! Seven days later Ikenna watches as people gather to remember Mama Nkwelle. Finally he plants his own special memorial, knowing that he will never forget her.
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