Review: Treasury of Childhood Memories

Praise for Treasury of Childhood Memories

“The vault of Treasury of Childhood Memories is filled to the brim and overflowing with gems! Akinwumi Isola is a master storyteller, and here again, after her earlier translations of Isola’s Ẹfunsetan Aniwura, Iyalode Ibadan and Tinubu, Iyalode Egba: Two Yoruba Historical Dramas, Pamela Olubunmi Smith has reaffirmed her record as more than up to the match. When a major writer meets an expert translator, the gain is always double, plus one.”

-Tejumola Ọlaniyan, Louise Durham Mead Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison

 “Every child in the world of Akinwumi Isola’s Ogun Omode learns very early the unlikelihood of a cohort of 20 kids playing together for 20 years! They know that adulthood will creep on everyone and that moving away will hap- pen. Yet that knowledge never deterred any kid from enjoying the assuring drills of family, neighborhood, village, school, church, farm, and playground, etc., Pamela O. Smith’s masterful translation of Isola’s childhood memoirs reveals how life unfolds for the young child between the antithetic desire to remain in the cohort permanently and the necessity of moving along on the path of life. If the loving parents, quirky teachers, peculiar school inspectors, cranky older neighbors play their part well, traveling into future decades is less fearsome.”

-Adeleke Adeeko, Humanities Distinguished Professor, University of Ohio

 “The power of words in Treasury of Childhood Memories carves into our consciousness the abundant Yoruba cultural values in the original text— Ogun Ọmọde. The magic in Professor Smith’s craftsmanship brought me face to face with my childhood days. The book is an excellent translation in which nothing of recognized import in the original has been consciously excluded. It is the book most students and scholars of translation have been waiting for. Professor Pamela Olubunmi Smith deserves commendation for this translation of yet another creative work of Akinwumi Isola from Yoruba to English.”

-Akintunde Akinyẹmi, Professor of Yoruba, Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, University of Florida in Gainesville

 “In Treasury of Childhood Memories, Pamela J. Olubunmi Smith expertly re- produces Akinwumi Isola’s genius and proves herself an enthusiastic, passionate and deeply spiritual story teller. At her feet, the reader listens with rapt attention and awe as all colorful characters rise in song and verse to tell our people’s stories with verve, intelligence and joyous attitude. This is how our ancestors used to tell us stories.”

-Ikhide R. Ikheloa, Administrator, Montgomery Schools, Maryland

“Treasury of Childhood Memories is Professor Pamela J. Olubunmi Smith’s splendid translation of Akinwumi Isola’s Ogun Omode— a collection of thirteen short stories about growing up within the Yoruba society. In Treasury of Childhood Memories, Smith provides unfettered access, for the English language reader, into the evocative and nonetheless blissful spheres of child- hood and young adulthood in most Yoruba communities. The enjoyable narration of Isola’s juvenile stories is kept in Smith’s translation. She presents Isola’s Yoruba reminiscences about his maturation within the Yoruba culture in clear and understandable language that makes Treasury of Childhood Memories an incredibly great English rendition of Isola’s only anthology of short stories.”

-Akinloye Ojo, Associate Professor, University of Georgia

“Translating an autobiography that goes against the grain of the genre constitutes a separate challenge of its own since it covers a largely uncharted terrain. This is the task Pamela Olubunmi Smith undertakes in this novel experiment by Akinwumi Isola of an autobiography as auto-biographies. Rather than concentrate on a developmental phase of the author alone, he charts the affairs of a quartet of school mates and how their collective experience was mutually self-enriching. Structured into thirteen chapters the structure also betrays a withdrawal of the personae for the foregrounding of the cultural ensemble of the Yoruba from a repertoire of riddles and tales to Egungun festivals. Pamela Olubunmi Smith’s mastery of English narrative structures coupled with her astute understanding of Yoruba culture brings out a unique flavor in this translation, which is a delight to read.”

-Ọlayinka Agbetuyi, Independent Scholar

“Akinwumi Isola’s Ogun Omode (Twenty Children) is a collection of nostalgic stories about a pastoral Yoruba childhood. The Yoruba title is taken from an indigenous proverb— Ogun Omode ko le sere papo fun ogun ọdun (it is impossible for twenty children to remain play buddies for twenty years). This translation by Pamela J. Olubunmi Smith captures the earthiness and rambunctious vitality of a traditional childhood and its mobility and change. The evocative and rich Yoruba argot of the original is telegraphed into an equally rich and earthy English, successfully conveying the escapades and truancy of childhood and the aroma of the farmstead. Smith retains the romantic mood of the original — that of a serene, if tumultuous, carefree world of innocence that is forever lost.”

-Amatoritsero Ede, PhD., Scholar-poet and publisher of Maple Tree Literary Supplement

 “Treasury of Childhood Memories is the product of a Yoruba master storyteller in the hands of a professional literary translator. It is not just a translation but an American English adaptation of the colonial days’ Yoruba village setting culture. It presents in captivating and picturesque expressions thirteen chapters of interesting stories craftily woven around reminiscences of child- hood pranks and congeniality among friends at home, school and during holidays.”

-Dotun Ogundeji, Professor, Department of Linguistics, University of Ibadan, Nigeria

 “The translator’s skill is forcefully demonstrated in Pamela Olubunmi Smith’s ability to capture and retrieve the Yoruba cultural nuances in her translation of Akinwumi Isola’s Ogun Omode into English in a creatively crafted title “Treasury of Childhood Memories” that sums up the fond memories of one’s childhood. The universality of the subject of the novel is not questionable as the reminiscences of childhood’s pranks, skirmishes and escapades frequently resonate when in a nostalgic state. Nostalgia cuts across culture or class di- vides. Smith’s translation of Ogun Omode allows the text to traverse into new cultures other than its proto-cultural home, in a novelistic style, providing another opportunity for her to prove her eminent stature in the field of translation. Hence, she is not only a phenomenon, but also an African plenipotentiary translator of literary texts written in Yoruba.”

-Duro Adeleke, Professor, Department Linguistics and African Languages, University of Ibadan, Nigeria

 “Pamela J. Olubunmi Smith got it right! She captured it all in terms of appropriate words and tempo. She is a “master.” You can understand my elation only if you read the original Ogun Omode by Akinwumi Isola which I first read as its editor at University Press Plc in 1989/90 and now, happily in 2015, in its English translation as Treasury of Childhood Memories by Pamela J. Olubunmi Smith. Remembering my tender and school age pranks, Smith’s translation made me “jack-laugh” and tear up at the very same points I did when I was editing the original manuscript those many years ago. Gege se gege. Remu lo se bi idodo efon (“Close approximation?” … it’s like reading Isola in another tongue. It does not get any closer than this.)”

-Sola Akanda, Publisher, Yew Books, Ibadan, Nigeria