Book Reviews

Book Review- Yetunde: An Ode to My Mother by Segilola Salami


This book was reviewed for the Manhattan and Seattle Book Reviews


Yetunde: An Ode to My Mother is the second of Salami’s Yetunde books. This short, beautiful read is told from the perspective of Yetunde, a mere babe, who’s own ma has passed away. Yetunde narrates for us as her ma engages in a Yoruba tradition of praise poetry, reciting one for her own mother.


Yetunde is so sweet and charming. She is a wee one, and her language reflects it. She doesn’t speak in nonsensical baby talk, but does speak with the short ‘oh, shiny’ attention of a toddler. She only just learned to walk, after all. Yetunde addresses us, the reader, directly.. She says she speaks Ancient Angelic, but adults call it baby babble. Being Yoruba, Yetunde is learning to understand both English and Yoruba.


As the story progresses, Yetunde’s ma sits with her, speaking of her regrets in not spending as much time as possible with her own ma. She had plans to buy a plot and build her ma a house, to have her close, and so she could be in Yetunde’s life. As she talks with Yetunde, she speaks in English, and Yoruba, giving translations. Yetunde’s ma is helping her learn to be bilingual. We are also given other tidbits of Yoruba culture and lore.


Segilola’s story is a marvellous one, wrought with love and care. Though primarily in English, it is a beautiful glimpse at a Yoruba cultural tradition. I love the lessons in Yoruba that are woven in. We are taught as Yetunde is taught. I was privileged enough to beta-read this short weeks ago, and was tickled to see it show up at SFBC. I still want to read the predecessor- Yetunde: A Yoruba Girl in London.
???? Strongly recommended, especially if you have interests in cultural awareness. A perfect quick read for mas to share with little ones.

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