New book empowers young girls to follow their dreams

Article by: LESEGO MAKGATHO

MAY 2018

A concern with the dearth of positive stories affirming the power of women impelled three South Africans to write a book.

Her Story: Daughters of Modjadji/Umlando Wakhe: Amadodakazi endlovukazi uModjadji was launched at Soweto’s Maponya Mall on Friday evening.

An ambience of lively storytelling pervaded the venue as parents and children were treated to readings. Among those who read passages from the book was the great-granddaughter of Albertina Sisulu, Nontsikelelo Sisulu-Singapi, as her great-grandmother is one of the women featured.

Authors Natasha Allie and Baba-Tamana Gqubule said they wrote the book to fill a gap around women issues in the market. The third author, Thandiwe Matthews, is currently pursuing her studies overseas.

We were tired of stories of black women not being written and if they are, they’re are not being written by black women,” said Allie. Gqubule said they shared a common goal.

We felt there weren’t enough stories told about women. We decided to tell stories reflecting women’s journeys that are not linear. We wanted to tell stories that are positive and affirming,” she said.

We had doubled the number of women we have now. But we cut it down because we organised the book in affirming themes such as ‘I Love Myself’ and ‘We Have Fighting Power’, and we then decided to select women who we have a connection with and we organised the women according to those affirming themes.”

Gqubule added that this was the first in the series. “We’ll be including women from different regions, the next one will be on women in Ethiopia. And, of course, we decided we are not going to be the lead in that one because we are not from that part of the world.

The whole concept of the book was to be inclusive. We’ve got pictures done by young girls in schools. The front cover was chosen by kids in schools. So in the same way, we decided a woman from Ethiopia would be the lead in the next one.

Speaking about the importance of self-identity at a young age, Allie said in early childhood development one needs a positive attitude to life and to know how to assert oneself.

The book is aimed at seven- to 12-year-olds. That’s when you start toying with concepts like self-identity, confidence and being comfortable in your own skin.

It is the first time you start thinking of what you want to be when you grow up. Even if you don’t become that, that’s when you start grappling with the idea of a career.” She adds that the book is targeted at children with a view to expose them to gender issues and enable them to realise that there are many women who can be scientists, athletes, accountants or judges. A diversity of careers and backgrounds went into the book to show little girls and boys endless possibilities.

The book features stories of 30 South African women. The authors wrote the book to present role models for younger girls and boys.

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About the Authors

Natasha Allie is the Projects Manager for the Oliver and Adelaide Tambo Foundation. The projects on which she works centre around the advancement of women and youth – two aspects of society about which she is very passionate. Before the Foundation, Natasha worked on a rhino conservation project, as well as for the Gender Research Alliance. She studied marketing and management at the University of the Witwatersrand, and is a trained LifeLine counsellor. Natasha is a proud born-and-bred Joburg girl.

Baba-Tamana Gqubule is an Economist at TIPS (Trade and Industrial Policy Strategies), a non-profit economic research institution that aims to provide economic policy research in response to public policy needs. She has a Masters in Development Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London and a Bachelor of Economics Honours degree from Rhodes University. She is interested in contributing towards the development of policy interventions targeted towards dismantling processes that yield to structural inequality in South Africa. She is also the founder of a group informally known as “Rhodents with purpose”, a network of Rhodes Alumni that aim to provide financial and peer-group support to disadvantaged students at Rhodes University.

Thandiwe Matthews is an attorney who believes that everyone has the right to be treated fairly and with dignity. She is a Senior Researcher: Civil and Political Rights at the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), where she was also a Senior Legal Officer, focusing on the advancement of human rights by both State and non-State actors. Before joining the SAHRC, Thandiwe worked as an attorney in the corporate and NGO sector. In 2015, she was selected as a 2015-2016 Fulbright/ Hubert H. Humphrey Fellow by the US State Department, based at the University of Minnesota Law School (United States).


About Khaloza Books:

Khaloza Books is a South African publishing company established in April 2017. We are
a Pan-African publishing house for books, fiction and non-fiction, about Africa for children
and young adults. Our aim is to encourage the continent to Read.Write.African.