BUILDING a reading culture among Tanzanians should start at a tender age, by advising children to read books. Nahida Esmail, a Tanzanian of Asian origin, finds herself being a promoter of reading culture to children, without knowing whether she had a writing talent.
This started eleven years ago when she was about to give birth to her first child. She felt like there were no enough picture story books for her unborn child to read. and
That is when she started an imaginary drawing with captions in
colors that could attract her unborn baby.
She thought of visiting publishers to show them her compiled drawings, but the first thing she met when she attempted chilwork was not attractive to potential customers and was unlikely to make profit. was
rejection, after the publisher told her that her
Without giving up, Nahida’s first manuscript landed at the Oxford Printing Press, where she was told that there were some prizes for children writers’ competition if she submitted her work for consideration.
“My first manuscript was shortlisted after 30 days. Then it won the Burt Award, which recognizes excellence in young children and adult literature and provides young readers with engaging books that they want to read,” Nahida recalls.
“It is when I realized that apart from being a psychologist and early childhood educator, I can write!” This is what gave her the courage which revealed her writing talent and promoting a reading culture among Tanzanians--starting dren. with
This prompted Nahida to keep on writing fiction books for the young and adult. Now, her five books have worn the Burt Award; A great encouragement to her writing career.
Nahida says that literature stakeholders need to put more efforts in making sure there are dependable reading materials in libraries, schools and shops embracing the Tanzanian culture. “Knowledge is easily gained by people reading various tales and stories.
The challenge here is that most of the books in schools are not written by Tanzanians
in a Tanzanian perspective. This might be one of the reasons why people here--the young and adults--do not like to read books.
She says that as a nation if we want to be experts in any type of language, our children must develop a culture of reading books, not only for understanding grammar but also for gaining knowledge.
“One of the major reasons impeding the reading culture in the country is that the available literature is not locally generated or supportive. Most of the books are written by some foreigners to be taught in our schools.
Real Tanzanian stories are not published for the Tanzanians to enjoy reading,” Nahida explains.
She adds: “This causes children in schools to
read only during examinations and in the end forget what they learned at school.”
She says developing
a reading and writing culture offers opportunities to writers to write as much as they can for the local market.
“There’s scant literature on the Maasai culture in Tanzania compared to what has been written by Kenyan authors on the Maasai tribesmen in their country,” Nahida emphasizes.
She urges Tanzanian authors to come together and form a writing club to quench the thirst of reading culture. Nahida has authored in English three adult fiction and 10 children books respectively.
These books have also been translated into Kiswahili.