Children writers shine and set high standards for Rwandan authors at National Book Exhibition.

Wednesday 7 June 2017

By; Gloria Busingye

 Malaika and three of her four Kinyarwanda book's titles

26 May 2017, Kigali, Rwanda – When 13-year-old, Malaika Michelle was a little girl, her mother used to bring her story books to read with her siblings, which made her love books and inspiring her become dedicated and successful author of children story books.

 “Mum used to bring us storybooks at home, and would insist that we read them instead of watching much television. That’s when I got the inspiration to write my own books” – said Michelle, one of the children authors participated in the National Book Exhibition 2017 in Kigali.

Malaika is a proud author of 4 prominent Kinyarwanda children’s storybooks namely:  Utunyange, Amashyuza, Twige kwizigamira and Nasuye Pariki ya Akagera.  

 Her books, and those written by other children and youth were the highlights of the first of its kind, National Book Exhibition that brought together more than 300 participants. The exhibition created awareness on the available books written by Rwandans and inspired many more with talent to join the book industry.

As she shared her experience, Malaika encouraged fellow children to practice a lot. “If you want to become a successful children’s book author, you need to know how to edit yourself and how to promote your book. I did not know Kinyarwanda, which was a challenge. But the more Kinyarwanda stories I read, the more my vocabulary improved and I was able to write my own”, noted Malaika.  

The 3 day National Book Exhibition themed, “A book, the source of knowledge and development”, comprised of different interactive activities including a book fair, and a panel discussion for Rwandan authors to share with guests about their books and experience.

Besides children authors, a good number of Rwandan youth have been engaged in promoting children book industry as authors, illustrators, and publishers.

Ganza Moise, a youth author attributes his inspiration and improvement of his books to the trainings he received from Save the Children. He argued that with more training support, the quality of children’s books will even get better.

“As young authors, we need continuous refresher trainings to meet the quality on demand. The new authors who join the industry also need a lot of support to maintain the quality of books needed.” – said Ganza.

While visiting the exhibition, Julienne Uwacu, the Minister of Sports and Culture commended the need to increase the number of local authors and publishers to support the culture of reading among children.

Minister of Sports and Culture and Secondary School students admiring Kinyarwanda children's storybooks at the National Book Exhibition

“We have many children, if the authors wrote many books, they would all get readers. For the culture of reading to remain strong in Rwanda, it has to start with the children”, said Hon. Uwacu.

Save the Children, through its USAID funded Mureke Dusome Project supports upcoming and existing authors and publishers of Kinyarwanda children’s books through a series of trainings.

The 3 day National Book Exhibition 2017 was organized by the Ministry of Sports and Culture in partnership with Save the Children, Rwanda Academy of Languages and Culture, Rwanda Archives and Library Services as well as Rwanda Art Council (RAC) to support the local book industry.