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Lawyer Writes Children’s Book Inspired by Her Nigerian Childhood
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A Dream Realized

Bunmi Emenanjo, an ethics and compliance lawyer, has always harbored a dream of becoming a writer. Born in the U.S. and raised in Nigeria, Emenanjo’s love for storytelling grew from a young age. At 16, she returned to the U.S. for her higher education, pursuing college and law school.

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Balancing Careers and Passions

While practicing law, Emenanjo married and had three children. Despite her busy life, she dedicated her spare time to writing, focusing on her Nigerian heritage and childhood memories. In March, her debut children’s book, I’ll See You in Ijebu, was released, capturing the essence of her experiences.

  
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A Cultural Journey

I’ll See You in Ijebu tells the story of a Catholic girl growing up in Lagos, Nigeria, who visits the rural town of Ijebu to celebrate Eid al-Adha with her Muslim extended family. The book highlights the girl’s relationship with her grandparents, especially her grandfather. Filled with colorful illustrations and an appendix featuring information about Nigeria and Eid al-Adha, it also includes a recipe for Nigerian puff puff, a sweet fried dough.

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Relating to Childhood

“The story is loosely based on my own childhood. It is relatable because it’s about coming together to celebrate a holiday with family,” Emenanjo, 46, explains. “It’s also a chance for children to experience Nigeria, to experience the contrast between city and village life. I tried to create a world of sounds and smells and language in which children could imagine themselves.”

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Critical Acclaim

Published by Barefoot Books, I’ll See You in Ijebu has garnered positive reviews. School Library Journal praised the book, and Kirkus Reviews described it as a “loving embrace of faith and family and a wonderful window into Nigerian culture.”

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Community Engagement

Since its release, Emenanjo has conducted book readings throughout the Washington, D.C., area and plans more events in the coming months. She hopes children and adults alike will connect with the book’s themes of family, culture, and the blending of traditions.

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Educational and Personal Journey

Emenanjo moved back to the U.S. at 16 to live with relatives and pursue education, initially studying cell and molecular biology at the University of Maryland. Although she considered medical school, she found her true calling in law, graduating from Widener University Commonwealth Law School in 2005.

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Diverse Legal Career

Her legal career has been diverse, including roles as a judicial intern, judicial clerk, and positions at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Department of the Interior, and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. For the past two years, she has served as compliance counsel at Otsuka America Pharmaceutical Inc.

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Promoting Cultural Representation

Driven by a desire to connect her children to their Nigerian heritage, Emenanjo noticed a lack of children’s books representing diverse backgrounds. This realization led her to start the Atlas Book Club in 2019, a subscription service offering books and educational materials from different countries. Although she paused the service in 2022 to focus on her writing, it was a significant step in promoting cultural representation in children’s literature.

Future Projects

Emenanjo is currently working on a novel and a second children’s book focused on sisterhood. Despite her demanding legal career, she believes in making time for all passions. “It’s important to make space for all of you in your life. There is room for all of you to exist. Give yourself permission to pursue all of the things that bring you joy.”



 

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