Friday, September 12, 2014

So, I'm on the longlist for the Golden Baobab

I could not be more thrilled about making the longlist for the Golden Baobab Prize for African Children's Literature. It feels like a validation of many years of writing and writing and writing and I'm incredibly grateful to Golden Baobab for recognising me in this way. Also, ALL THE FEELS, ALL THE YAYS.

Golden Baobab has announced the longlist on it's website here

Incidentally, I already feel very much part of the Golden Baobab family as a media fellow (I've heard some jokes about the vote being rigged but I am sure it's a blind judging process and my writing for GB the Organisation had nothing to do with my writing for GB the Prize).

Anyways, here are some of my musings as the 2014 media fellow:

I wish my grandmother had told me stories.

I was often left in the care of my paternal grandmother while both my parents worked full-time jobs. A former domestic worker, she was the kind of granny you see in movies and read about in books, down to her incredible homemade ginger biscuits. As a child, I was obsessed with reading. My parents did not buy me many books but I devoured the fiction section of my primary school library. After I had tired of Babysitters’ Club, Choose Your Own Adventure and Goosebumps, I made my way through Dickens, Austen and other authors who I’m not sure I would have the time or inclination to read now as an adult.

A book was a preferable companion to me than any person or pet but I don’t remember ever reading a South African book outside of school setworks. And even then, our exposure to South African English fiction was limited Maru by Bessie Head who, though born in South Africa, perhaps belongs more fairly to Botswana. My school offered only Afrikaans as an additional language and we read many interesting, complex works in the language. While I enjoyed many of these books immensely, I could not do so without a bit of black middle-class guilt. My father had been among the children who risked their lives in the Soweto Uprising of 1976 protesting against Afrikaans as a language of instruction in their schools and there I was, some 25 years later, happily tucking into Skilpoppe and Vlerkdans. South Africa can be a weird place sometimes.

Read the complete article on BooksLive here

Every few weeks, I meet people who tell me they want to be writers. Quite often they say they want to write for children or have started writing to give their children something more fun to read. They work in the evenings after long days behind desks and putting little ones to bed. They tell me they have been working on it for six months or six years. All of them want to know how to get published. Many of them imagine it will be much more glamorous and profitable than it’s really likely. Quite a few of them have multiple books they have abandoned half or a quarter way because they could not find inspiration or had run out of ideas. I must have met dozens of people with this story in the last five years or so. There must be thousands of these hopeful storytellers across Africa but where do all their stories go?

Read the complete article on ArtMatter here