Welcome to “The Afrikan Experience”
Nancy Banyong was born and raised in Cameroon with her parents and 4 siblings. Her dad is a Law Professor and her mother an Educational Guidance Counsellor. Her parents encouraged the culture of reading at a young age and sent their children to great schools. They bought different genres of books and together, had discussions about them. As a family they watched shows like Shaka Zulu, Roots, Family Matters and The Sound of Music. From an early age, her parens introduced her to the importance of reading, family, culture, entertainment, exposing her to both local and global perspectives.
In her childhood, Nancy read numerous foreign fairy tales including Oliver Twist, Tom Sawyer, Robin Hood and King Arthur, as well as Greek mythology and plays from Shakespeare and about Arabian Knights. She learned to appreciate and understand other cultures from watching some of these stories as animations and films.
Growing up, her family often spent holidays in the village with extended family . They sat around a roaring fire listening to the local folklore. A grandparent or elder narrated stories with lessons on heritage, culture, history and morals. It was spiced with singing popular songs in the native dialect, hand clapping, proverbs and their meanings.
In High school, Literature was one of her major subjects. She read inspiring novels, poems and plays from different African countries to which she could relate.It was a very exciting time. Some of the books included Things fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, The Whiteman of God by Kenjo Jumbam, Our Sister Killjoy by Ama Ata Aidoo, Mastering English Literature by Tah Protus, Weep not Child by Wole Soyinka, poems by Leopold Sedar Senghor, amongst several others.
Nancy now lives in Toronto and has read approximately 300 books from different genres; motivational, law, romance, fantasy, comic and thrillers within 4 years.
“I was homesick and was looking for books written by African authors that reminded me of home, but I could not find any at the library or bookstores. I ordered a book from the UK, it arrived 2 weeks later and was expensive. This experience exposed to me the need to fill this literary gap.” Nancy said.
She became even more intentional about finding varying stories from different African countries when she couldn’t easily buy them for her niece and nephews. She loved narrating African stories to her nieces and nephews in the US which they greatly enjoyed. Her niece, Nyla, wanted to read them in a storybook. She and her sister had difficulty finding children’s books with African stories by African born authors in Toronto when they visited and in North America in general.
In her four years in Canada, Nancy made the observation that there is minimal knowledge about Africa, its history, countries and culture. North Americans rely mostly on news and have developed stereotypes based on what’s presented by mainstream media. Armed with these observations, she decided to create a platform that makes it easy for North Americans to easily learn more about the African culture, and for the African diaspora to access African stories that relate to their roots. She plans to expand her outreach globally using this platform.
She hopes to fill the gap and foster cultural awareness through African storytelling and strongly believes that global audiences can enjoy reading authentic stories about Africa.
She is part of a Canadian group: Immigrant Women in Business where she talks about different African experiences: http://immigrantwomeninbusiness.com/founding-members/nancy-banyong/
She volunteers with Afroglobal Television and the Canadian Black Chamber of Commerce.
Thank you for being here and enjoy the experience!