By Tafadzwa Muranganwa
Occasional visits to Bikita and interactions with rural folk, have provided inspiration to upcoming author Bernadette Makaya.
The budding writer, who is of Indian origin, but formerly married to a Zimbabwean, caught up with this publication and bared her soul on how visits to her ex-husband’s rural place intrigued her to pen books inspired by rural life.
“I used to frequently visit my husband’s rural home, Bikita, where I got accustomed to rural life. From then on, I developed a keen interest in uplifting the rural folk through my writings,” Makaya told Standard Style.
Her recent published works include a children’s books titled My Pet Monkey and The Herd Boys, which have since been approved by the Primary and Secondary Education ministry for Grade 3 level pupils.
The two books have a rural setting and according to Makaya this was precipitated by the realisation that most children’s books in Africa are Eurocentric making them a bit detached to the young learners.
“I have seen that a lot of African children’s books are Eurocentric, hence my inspiration to have children read about their lives in my books and also include some of their names as characters,” said the mother of four daughters.
“This then fascinates them to inculcate a reading culture because it will be relevant to them.”
In its approval note, the Primary and Secondary Education ministry commended the books for promoting “a strong understanding of the Zimbabwe culture and the ideology of unhu/ubuntu”.
The author is now seeking sponsorship to have her books distributed widely in the rural areas as a way to uplift the rural learners who are poorly-resourced in their schools.
“My dream is to have all the two books I wrote to be in each and every home of people in the rural areas such that I am now calling for donors to buy the books and distribute them freely for children in the rural areas,” Makaya said.
The book was published by Passion Press which also was touched by Makaya’s quest to transform rural communities such that she used durable material to ensure the books are protected from the vagaries common in to rural life.
Makaya developed a keen interest in writing in 2000 after attending a Budding Writers’ Association workshop where she got inspiration from revered writer Charles Mungoshi after coming second in a competition held at the same event.
In 2001 she also participated in writers’ workshops that were held by the British Council and had an opportunity to meet world-acclaimed novelist Tsitsi Dangarembga at an artists-writers interface at the Harare International Festival of the Arts.