Dozens of libraries and schools have presented Onye’s program that enhances and makes real the settings and events of the acclaimed novel What is the What by Dave Eggers.
Library groups and school districts introduce the book in the classroom, then invite Nigerian musician and educator Onye Onyemaechi, with his drums, dances, war and immigration experiences to help make it all real to the students. Students are invited to ask questions and contribute their experiences as Onye draws them together in a shared community. All celebrate life together.
Onye customizes his program to the themes and emphasis requested by the sponsoring organization.
What is the What is a novelistic biography of Valentino Achak Deng, who came to America after escaping the war in the Sudan. The book follows him as he suffers in his wartorn homeland, struggles to survive, and adapts to a new community in the US. It explores universal themes of finding one's identity and searching for one's place in the world
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Valentino Achak Deng, real-life hero of this engrossing epic, was a refugee from the Sudanese civil war-the bloodbath before the current Darfur bloodbath-of the 1980s and 90s. In this fictionalized memoir, Eggers (A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius) makes him an icon of globalization. Separated from his family when Arab militia destroy his village, Valentino joins thousands of other "Lost Boys," beset by starvation, thirst and man-eating lions on their march to squalid refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya, where Valentino pieces together a new life. He eventually reaches America, but finds his quest for safety, community and fulfillment in many ways even more difficult there than in the camps: he recalls, for instance, being robbed, beaten and held captive in his Atlanta apartment. Eggers's limpid prose gives Valentino an unaffected, compelling voice and makes his narrative by turns harrowing, funny, bleak and lyrical. The result is a horrific account of the Sudanese tragedy, but also an emblematic saga of modernity-of the search for home and self in a world of unending upheaval.
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Foundations: Sebastopol Center for the Arts (501.3.c) can act as fiscal agent for grants to Village Rhythms.
Contact Onye to bring his motivational program to your school: 707-528-4458.