Akhentoolove Corbin was born and lives on the island of Barbados, but considers himself a Caribbean and world person. He was educated at the University of the West Indies, Barbados where he gained the degree of Doctor of Philosophy and currently is a lecturer in management at his alma mater.
Akhentoolove grew up in a small community in his country of birth and is very proud of his island upbringing, even though as a result of his international and regional travels, he also has a deep appreciation for the big city life and the potpourri of cultures that exist in their various communities. He has always dreamed of writing and publishing, and began his journey writing poetry in the mid-1970s. For Akhentoolove, poetry is a vehicle for individuals to explore and understand deeper spiritual and other realities of life, and to offer world people avenues to better understand each other.
Akhentoolove believes the Caribbean has very rich cultural expressions that can be shared with the world through the arts. From an early age, he learned the importance of story telling in the development of communities and in bridging the gap between the young and not so young. Akhentoolove knows that storybooks in all forms, hard copies and e-copies, can expose the readers to enriching life experiences related to games, social interactions, values and norms that make us each unique.
Ajani’s Wonderful Summer is Akhentoolove’s first storybook and embodies many of his life experiences as a child growing up in Barbados, which are still very relevant to global readers particularly youth up to 13 years old. These coming-of-age stories, set in the Caribbean island of Barbados, are about eleven-year-old Ajani Clarke, his friends and his family. They particularly emphasize Ajani’s relationship with his father, Papa C, who provides Ajani with the love, knowledge and confidence he needs to nurture his dreams. While re-acquainting Barbadian boys with some of the traditional ways in which Bajans have fun and enjoy themselves, the stories focus on Ajani’s unfolding maturity during one significant summer vacation.
Amid the fecund and lush Barbadian country landscape and pristine beaches, Ajani enjoys the simple pleasures of a young boy’s life. In “Ajani and the Marble Contest,” he participates in a marble-pitching competition with boys from a neighbouring village. In “Ajani’s Kite Flying Adventure,” he makes and flies good old Bajan kites on the community pasture. In “Ajani Goes Crabbing,” Papa C teaches Ajani and his friends the intricacies of catching crabs. In “Ajani and the Cricket Match,” Ajani plays cricket with a team of young cricketing legends, and in “Ajani and the Beach Picnic,” he enjoys himself on Brown’s Beach.
But Ajani also engages in more serious events. One Saturday morning after a game of football on the community pasture, Ajani meets Barbados’ ten national heroes in the flesh in “Ajani and the Heroes.” His conversation with them inspires him to reach for his great dream – to be a member of the West Indies cricket team. With this dream in his heart, he gets a summer job so he can buy a brand new cricket bat autographed by his cricket hero, Sir Garfield Sobers. We read about this is the story entitled “Ajani gets a Summer Job.”
The stories target the much-neglected market of Afro-Barbadian boys between the ages of eight and twelve years old. It has been acknowledged by those in the field of education in Barbados that this age group suffers tremendously from a dearth of male role-models. This collection of stories, focusing on a young boy’s life-affirming relationship with his father, can go a long way in filling this gap.
Ajani’s Wonderful Summer reflects the richness of Barbadian history, cultural heritage and social values. Though the stories are located in Barbados, their themes are universal. Each emphasizes a clear moral lesson, and though the narrative style is simple enough to be enjoyed by young boys, the stories encourage boys to think about the complexities which often arise in a growing youth’s life.