Vice President, Ontario Black History Society
and former postgraduate student of the University of Hull
Four years…..that’s how long it took from the original idea of The Time Travel Adventures of Ara (TTAOA) being conceived, to it finally being released to the public. It was March 2018, and at the time I was working for one of the largest organizations in Canada, committed to enhancing the awareness of Canada’s history and citizenship. I was having a conversation with a former co-worker and friend, who said she could see me writing a children’s book. “A children’s book I thought to myself?” “Really” I said to my friend.
But as we continued talking, my mind started to race with ideas and immediately the concept of TTAOA came to mind. Not only did this current book come to mind, but a whole series of books dedicated to time travel, where my then two-year-old son would star as the protagonist of the series and where he would go back in time and meet iconic Black historical figures in different time periods. Not only would Ara learn more about Black history in Canada, but he would learn about Black history around the world!
After this conversation with my friend and former colleague, I immediately started a Google doc and got all the ideas that were racing through my mind written down. I remember the excitement I felt as I documented my ideas and thought to myself, “Could I really do this? Would people (especially children) like the concept of the book?” It’s not that I was new to the process of writing; in fact, my husband and I co-wrote and released a book titled, Live Love Learn Grow: A Collection of Quotes With Modern Day Paradigms For Appropriating Godly Values Into Our Lives And Businesses in April 2016. I also wrote a chapter in Transforming Lives One Story at a Time: Powerful Stories of Success & Inspiration that was released in September 2017. Also, I had watched my husband spend months writing and releasing his latest book, The Power of Vision: Principles and Practices to Help You Become Extraordinary. So indeed, I was not new to the writing and self-publishing process, but this was still a major project, and one that would rely solely on my expertise and knowledge in the subject of Black history.
With my ideas down on paper, and in my opinion, an amazing concept for book one of the series, I tried to set out some time to start writing. However, for me this process was not so easy! I had my two-year-old son, just started a new job, found out I was pregnant with my second son and had many other projects on the go. In the early part of 2019, I had recorded the first chapter of my manuscript but did not have the time to write down what I recorded. So finally in September 2019, I enlisted the help of a close friend of my husband, who is an editor and publisher in Nigeria, and asked him to help me transcribe what I had recorded. He did this and honestly it was the push I needed to continue to write my manuscript despite the busyness of life. Fast forward to 2021 when I finally thought that I would be able to release my book that year. However, this was not to be. After a few setbacks on this book writing journey, I realized that it would finally be 2022 before book one of The Time Travel Adventures of Ara would be released.
It is a humbling experience to write a book. Throughout this process, I’ve been purposeful in making sure I am honouring and celebrating those whose lives I am writing about (e.g., Harriet Tubman). This journey has also been so fun and rewarding to watch my two sons Ara and Korede be excited about “mommy’s new book” and watch them get excited when looking at the illustrations within the book of themselves and mommy and daddy. That’s always been my main goal from the conception of this book, until now (and it will continue to be): to create stories and content for Black children and Black people to see themselves and to read about their history and read about who their ancestors were and the sacrifices they made.
Being a historian of Caribbean history, Black history in Canada and the history of Black enslavement (thanks to the Wilberforce Institute at the University of Hull!), it has always been important to me to share all the amazing stories about people of African descent that I learned about on my undergraduate and graduate journey with others, specifically the next generation. There is a gap in learning about all histories in the Canadian education system and I want to ensure that I am doing my part (whether it’s through this book series or my podcast; BlacktoCanada) to teach children about Black history not only in Canada, but around the world. I believe that if children have the opportunity to learn about different cultures and histories when they are young, then there will be more understanding and empathy and less racism and ignorance.
The Time Travel Adventures of Ara: Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad can be purchased on:
- OyES: https://oyeseducation.org/shop/
- Amazon (worldwide)