Onyeka Nwelue and Ikenna Chinedu Okeh wrote the book, 'Saving Mungo Park' which is a humorous take on Mungo Park's arrival to the communities around the great river which he was to name River Niger.
Efforts to address colonial narratives with art are nothing new to the intellectual landscape of the African continent. As far as one can think back to, writers on the continent and in its diaspora have created works whose themes challenge perceptions of themselves that are rooted in colonialism, and to send their messages across, humor, as a technique, has always come in handy. This is no different from what a reader is to encounter with the illustrated children’s book titled, Saving Mungo Park.
Every school child in Africa is made to believe that Mungo Park, a Scottish explorer, discovered River Niger
‘Saving Mungo Park’ is thematically similar to other works of art in that it seeks to address an issue of identity wrongfully anchored in colonialism. However, its approach is slightly different from many others before it.
Every school child in Africa is made to believe that Mungo Park, a Scottish explorer, discovered River Niger in 1795. Saving Mungo Park challenges this, but not in an argumentative or confrontational manner. Instead, it tells a story where Mungo Park isn’t presented to be the invincible explorer that’s conjured up in the minds of school children. Instead, the explorer is depicted as being vulnerable and hard hit by the rigours of his journey.
In Saving Mungo Park, the reader gets to see other characters that feature in the Mungo Park story
Saving Mungo Park goes further, in an unseemly manner, to suggestively hint at the rationale behind Mungo Park’s christening of the River Niger and his blatant refusal to acknowledge the name which the indigenous communities living around the riverbanks and fishing in its waters for many generations called it.
In Saving Mungo Park, the reader gets to see other characters that feature in the Mungo Park story, prominent among them being Obua Ajukwu, a warlord who was after Mungo Park and whom Mungo Park had to flee from.
According to the authors, Saving Mungo Park does not offer to present itself as an authority on history. Instead, it is meant to provoke thought and an honest inquiry, on an individual level, into what has been taken for granted for too long.
Saving Mungo Park is meant to provoke thought and an honest inquiry into what has been taken for granted for too long
‘Saving Mungo Park’ is authored by Onyeka Nwelue and Ikenna Chinedu Okeh who respectively are filmmakers and poets, besides writing for children and being novelists.
‘Saving Mungo Park’ is published by Hattus Books and is distributed by Baron’s Café.
To order copies, visit https://baronscafe.com/product/saving-mungo-park/