Historical FiguresSocial History

Life, Career & Death of Kola Onadipe, Author of Sugar Girl & Koku Baboni

Who was Kola Onadipe?

Kola Onadipe, born Nathaniel Kolawole Onadipe on the 14th of July, 1922 in the serene town of Ijebu-Ode was a prolific and renowned Nigerian writer popularly known for his didactic children’s books.

He studied Law at the University of London in 1949 and later established a Law firm with one of his friends named Abraham Adesanya. Kola Onadipe later dropped his law profession and ventured into teaching. He became the Principal of Olu-Iwa College in Ijebu-Ode, his hometown. During his days, he was known to be a disciplinarian who believed in fairness.

Sugar Girl

Kola Onadipe won the heart of every Nigerian child in the 60s, 70s and 80s with his exceptionally written books. He dedicated most of his life to writing children’s books and making children happy as well. He authored over 20 books used in schools all over Nigeria.

Kola Onadipe’s books include: The adventures of Souza (1963); The boy slave (1966); Koku Baboni (1965); Sugar girl (1964); The magic land of the shadows (1970); The forest is our playground (1972) and more.

Magic Land of Shadow

Kola Onidipe was happily married with fifteen children, seven boys and eight girls. He died from stroke on December 4, 1988, at the age of 66. He was buried at his residence in Ogbogbo, Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State.

Kola Onadipe was an icon whose impact cannot in any way be forgotten in the history of Nigerian literature and education. He and other writers of his kind, the likes of Onuora Nzekwu (author of Eze Goes to School), have impacted the childhood of many Nigerians and have helped to develop a society of morally upright people.

OldNaija interviewed a few Nigerians and here is what the said about Kola Onadipe.

Kola Onadipe helped mould a fragment of our childhood one way or the other. Back then, even those in our playgroup that hated reading read ‘Ralia the Sugar Girl’ because they couldn’t afford to be left out while we sang the song in it. Kola Onadipe is/was a literary pot from which children drank words with pleasure.

Rahmah Raji

Sugar girl besides expanding my imagination also thought me a moral lesson – one of them was to listen to your elders.

Aweni Adams

Kólá Ònádípè was a man who had an immense passion for children literature. His level of dexterity in his writings is simple and real. He narrows down his thoughts for easy comprehension for children.

Dámilólá Òké

Kola Onadipe used to be a brilliant writer in which his writing prowess and skills put we children back then off our mark to develop our reading abilities and skills.

Kayode Ayobami Ahmad

Kola Onadipe’s books are so exceptional. They have a great impact on my childhood. I got a double promotion in my primary school for reading Sugar Girl. It was great.

Sa’ed Omipidan

Kola Onadipe’s books gave us an insight as a kid into a view of the wider world. His books teach morals, they are historical and edifying. It’s just what kids need to read not all these modern novels.

Bamidele Oluwaseun

Kola Onadipe’s works are easy to comprehend and he writes in such a way that children can easily visualize his stories with the mind. When it comes to children’s literature, Kola Onadipe is a god.

Olalekan Azeez Oriola

Kola Onadipe’s books really did unveil human nature to kids at early ages.

Olanrewaju Adetoye

You can add yours in the comment section. Thanks for reading, OldNaija.com

Cite this article as: Teslim Omipidan. (September 14, 2017). Life, Career & Death of Kola Onadipe, Author of Sugar Girl & Koku Baboni. OldNaija. Retrieved from https://oldnaija.com/2017/09/14/the-life-career-and-death-of-kola-onadipe-author-of-sugar-girl-and-koku-baboni/

19 Comments

  1. If i would ever have the chance to turn back the hands of time, i would love to go back to my secondary school days just to go and read SUGAR GIRL and KOKU BABONI again. I stii have a copy of each since 1995 till date.

  2. hey man.. reading ur articles has always bn worth its time.. More power to ur elbow.
    how do u cope with these pathetic plagiarists tho.. i’m a writer too nd i knw hw it feels to av someone else take credits for ur rigorous efforts.
    I jst came across one on FB jst nw.. d eejit copied nd pasted ur article on “THE REAL STORY OF ISHOLA OYENUSI” .. word 4 word.. nd people were jst hurling praises on him.
    so painful.

    1. Dear Adonis, thanks for reaching out to us and for your kind words too. I’m really grateful. I spend every part of my day fighting plagiarism. I think it has become part and parcel of writing. It is really saddening to see one’s work stolen by these plagiarists. It really is. Can you please share the link of the Facebook post with us? We’ll be very glad if you can. Thank you so much, Mr. Adonis. Kindly do check back.

  3. I really want to purchase koku baboni and sugar girl ????????????????????. I miss those books and the feelings I get when I read it

  4. Kola Onadipe’s “The Boy Slave” is simply exceptional. We read it while we in secondary school and the short story remains my favorite as the character of the villain, Matamba, who terrorises the little slave boy, Shettima, is still fresh in my memory since 1989 when read it in school. As a PhD in French Caribbean Literature, I made reference to this interesting Onadipe’s short story in my master’s dissertation as well as in my PhD thesis. I am currently researching to make a comparative study of this Onadipe’s novel and Maryse Conde’s “Moi, Tituba Sorciere…Noire de Salem” vis-a-vis the themes of women, children, language and multiculturalism for a university academic conference on Nigerian Oral Literature.

  5. Many thanks for this article, it’s really interesting. I’m researching the production of fiction for older children and have not had the privilege of reading Kola Onadipe’s books. Please could you tell me what age ranges they were suitable for. Were they aimed at primary school children or secondary school children?

    1. Kola Onadipe’s books are suitable for children around 7 years and above. Children below 7 years might find it difficult to grasp Onadipe’s plots and dictions even though they come in simple forms. Kola Onadipe’s books are aimed at primary school children (mostly primary 4 to 5 or 6), meanwhile, they are suitable for Junior secondary school students as well.

      Thanks for your visit and for reading, Mr Dan. Let me know if you have further questions.

      1. Thanks so much for responding quickly. I’m drawing up a list of African fiction aimed at 10-14 year olds. I think that these books are aimed at younger readers than that. Should I take these off my list? Best, D.

        1. No. You should include them in your list. Kola Onadipe’s books are suitable for children between the age you specified. In my first comment, I mentioned that they are suitable for children above 7 years, therefore, children of 10 to 14 years are included.

          Best of luck with your research and list.

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