JAJA: King of Opobo (Nigeria Heritage Series) (Author Interview)


The Nigeria Heritage Series looks like an exciting children’s series.  Can you tell us a little about them?

The Nigeria Heritage Series is a collection of beautifully-illustrated children’s books on Nigerian history, heroes, heritage, myths, legends and folklore. Nigeria is a very ethnically-diverse country so you can imagine we had a treasure trove of characters and subjects to pick from while developing the series. The first 21 books published in the series are culled from various regions of the country. We have legendary Northern heroes like the famous warrior Queen Amina, Bayajidda, Uthman Dan Fodio and others, as well as reverered iconic Southern figures like Jaja of Opobo, Samuel Ajayi Crowther…and the seldom-celebrated anti-slavery hero Olaudah Equiano who worked alongside William Wilberforce to abolish the evil trade in humans.

Though the series delves into fairly serious subject matters at times, all stories are intentionally crafted for the excitement, entertainment and education of a younger audience.


Any more books planned for the series?

We’re currently at 21 stories and we’re just getting warmed up. About two dozen more books are currently at various stages of development and we probably won’t stop till we hit 100. Or maybe more. We’ll see how things progress. All the storybooks also have colouring activity books to complement them.


How were the illustrations done in the Nigeria Heritage Series?

We’re blessed with a very creative team of illustrators led by Adams Gbolahan. They bring the magic to life through vibrant colours and interesting character designs. The project would be nowehere without them.


What inspired you when writing the Nigeria Heritage Series?   

Growing up as kids in Africa, we basically watch the same content as kids in America and elsewhere. Disney cartoons, Cartoon Network and the likes. We didn’t see anything wrong with all the Cindarella stories or Snow White and stuff as kids, but as grown ups we realized rather belatedly that we needed to develop our own stories into globally syndicated formats as well. We have Nigerian and African kids allover the world who can recite the entire Norse mythology around Thor, but can tell you nothing of Sango – a Yoruba god of thunder with a very similar story to Thor’s. Basically, our inspiration was to preserve and celebrate our rich cultural heritage. Cos nobody would do it for us.


What will readers get out of your books?

All our titles are deliberately designed around very lofty themes: integrity, sacrifice, bravery, community, honour, tolerance and selflessness. In a generation where such values and ideals are fast becoming rare, we believe the series is a timely intervention to help shape the characters of Africa’s future leaders.


Where can readers find out more about your work?

All our titles are available across the world through Amazon’s global network.

We have paperbacks, eBooks, and paperback colouring activity books on all Amazon sites.

We also have premium hardcover boxsets available on order through our website www.234express.com


We’d like to specially mention our charity initiative: Reading Against Intolerance. We launched this early in 2021, and it basically entails gifting sponsored copies of the series to school kids across different parts of Nigeria. This project was inspired by a recent wave in hateful ethno-religious politics, which threatened the peaceful development of Nigeria. We figured that if we could get kids learning about heroes and inspirational figures from other parts of the country beyond their regions, we could inplant some seeds of empathy in them; as they learn about the histories and cultures of others. We may have different names, tribes, religions and all, but at our core we all share the same timeless human values. 


My LinkedIn Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/john-adoga-336a2517/
Our website: www.234express.com
Amazon link to Series: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08NHRCC73?binding=paperback&ref=dbs_dp_rwt_sb_tpbk
Social handles: 234express (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter)
RAI Project Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/234Express.RAIproject