Tolani goes back to beginning


Tolani goes back to beginning

Observer senior writer

Thursday, July 09, 2020

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LIFE in rural Jamaica during the 1970s and 1980s was tough for a lot of citizens. Bad roads, inadequate electricity and water supply were among the challenges they faced.

Yet, those were some of the best times for Trudi Tolani. Her years as a youngster in St Ann were part of the inspiration for Winnie: The Beginning, her first book, which was independently released in June.

Tolani, who lives in South Florida, recalls her youth through Winnie, an eight year-old girl from fictional Piper district in rustic Manchester. She is the eldest of three children for a single-parent mother who lives with her grandfather, a farmer.

After migrating to the United States 19 years ago, Tolani discovered that she took much of her formative years for granted.

“It is only since I came to the USA that I treasure some of the experiences that I had growing up there. Number one for me is absolutely the different seasonal fruits and foods. Julie and East Indian mangoes are my favourites, right up there with star apples and naseberry,” she said in an interview with the Jamaica Observer. “It was moving to the USA that I realised just how much I missed those times going in the yard and picking these things. Nothing tastes better than a turn or ripe breadfruit roasted with some ackee and salt fish and some avocado. Even just eating a bulla with some avocado.”

Tolani was born and raised in Hyattsfield and Great Pond, St Ann. She migrated to the US shortly after leaving St Hilda's High School; she attended Southern New Hampshire University, then worked in the pharmaceutical industry.

Frequent visits to Jamaica rekindled her love of country. Being the mother of four children born in the US, she wanted them to have a sense of their heritage and what life was like in rural Jamaica 40-odd years ago.

“I figured that there were other children just like them with Caribbean heritage that could benefit from the conversations with their families. It took me about six months to write because I wasn't very focused on it,” she said.

Winnie: The Beginning was actually published six years ago, but officially re-released last month with a different cover and layout.

Tolani plans to release additional ' Winnie' books to educate people with Jamaican roots about their background.

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