Historian and former presenter of SABC’s ‘Shoreline’, Nomalanga Mkhize has published an African history book for children.
The book is called ‘In Africa with Avi and Kumbi’ and it tells the story of Africa from ancient times to independence.
Published under her pen name ‘Khize wamaZambezi’, the book covers important themes such as rock art, the rise of ancient civilisations and ancient trade, African philosophy, slavery, colonialism and struggles for independence.
Each page is beautifully illustrated to make it attractive and appealing for children. The book is printed on high quality paper so that it can last long and be handed down from child to child within the family.
The self-published book took 3 years to complete because of funding difficulties and finding time between working and mothering to complete the book.
As a first time mother, Mkhize was looking for books that portrayed a positive self-image to Black children. “It was then that I realised that children’s books on African history were not easily available. Many of the books that I did find in bookshops focused on European adventurers in Africa and not on Africans themselves. So I decided to write one.”
Describing the difficulties of self-publishing, Mkhize said: “Initially I pitched the book concept to a publisher but they lost interest. Then I had to push on my own to make this book a reality. I eventually found some funding from a local CSI agent that allowed me to finish it. It was very exciting to get the final printed product and feel the pages in my hands.”
Partnering with Mkhize were art illustrator Sani Singaphi and designer Bulelani Booi who hail from Motherwell in Port Elizabeth. Mkhize explained why she chose to work with Sani, a young Black female, illustrator: “The pictures are the most important element of the book. I wanted to portray beautiful, fun and unique Black African characters with gorgeous colour schemes – Sani can pull that kind of thing off. She has extraordinary artistic abilities.”
The book fills in a very huge gap for high-quality, African-themed, children’s literature in the book market.