When two mums – one South African, another Zimbabwean/Motswana – found themselves struggling to find just the right resources to teach their kids about Africa, ‘the real Africa’, they decided to take matters into their own hands.
As we are all aware, various media platforms the world over takes great pleasure in portraying Africa as one big safari, poor and undeveloped. Unfortunately, that is the narrative African kids consistently hear. But that is not the story of Africa, the duo – Lebo C and Lebo M. – insists.
“Through the Kids’ Adventures in Africa series, we are telling the positive story of Africa, country by country. We’ve heard all the negatives. Now it’s time to discover the ingenuity, the diversity and the beauty of Africa and her people.”
“We dedicate these books to Africa’s children, young and old. We hope to instil an identity of Africa’s place in the world. To develop an awareness of the important contributions Africa has made and continues to make to cultural expression, social development and science and industry. As well as to ignite a sense of pride in our identity as African people,” the impassioned message reads on the Kids’ Adventures in Africa website.
The Kids’ Adventures in Africa book series: An intro
The Kids’ Adventures in Africa book series takes you on a journey to discover Africa, country by country! Told by children from each country, it’s packed full of fun and educational nuggets of information, including, geography, economics, history and cultural titbits about Africa. All this will leave you itching to visit every country in Africa, the authors maintain. All the books in the Kids’ Adventures in Africa are illustrated with a mix of real-life photos and animations. These are truly books with a difference, as the authors take it one further; they narrate every Kids Adventures in Africa book on their YouTube channel.
YourBotswana was lucky to snag an interview with the driven ladies behind the amazing the Kids’ Adventures in Africa book series, and here’s how it went!
How did the partnership between Lebo M and Lebo C come about?
We are already friends and our kids are friends. Before the book series, we always discussed how we wished there was more literature that appeals to our kids in terms of representation and content. So we finally decided to bite the bullet and do it ourselves.
We love the idea that the Kids’ Adventures in Africa book series “takes you on a journey to discover Africa, country by country!”. But what does it all mean – can you break it down for us?
This firstly aims to deconstruct the narrative that Africa is just one big boring blob, and if you have seen one African country you have seen them all. We celebrate the unique attributes of each country. We applaud each country’s contribution to the beautiful story of Africa – be it economic, technological or cultural. We honour cultures and artefacts that make the country stand out and kindle a small fire in each person to yearn to visit that country and experience it for themselves.
With backgrounds in business, investment and digital marketing, how did you find transitioning to writing?
It’s not easy at all! It’s a huge learning curve, but at the same time, we have dabbled in blogging before but never in children’s books. So it’s been an interesting journey.
As you are not authors by profession, have you come up against any hurdles and learning curves? How do you balance parenthood, your careers and being authors?
We feel like we are constantly learning and growing and just when we think we have figured out something, there is more to learn. We are so blessed with supportive husbands who take on some aspects of the work, cheer us on during disheartening times, and pick up the slack with the kids when we are inundated with work. The biggest hurdle is understanding the industry.
Africa is a large continent that comprises 54 countries with very diverse cultures. How do you pull together all the information you need to avoid any inaccuracies?
So first, both of us have diverse family backgrounds. Lebo M is married to a South African and her parents are from Zimbabwe and Botswana. Her siblings’ spouses are from Ghana, Zambia and Uganda. Lebo C is a South African married to a Malawian. Add to that the fact that we have friends from all over the continent. So whenever we work on a country, we start there. Casual conversations with friends and family about growing up in their country, and what they like most about it.
Then we move on to desktop research. This involves reading country reports from the country government, World Bank, the UN etc. We also read travel blogs, watch YouTube videos and join forums and Facebook groups run by people from each country. Forums are particularly helpful because we get to access to a wider group of people. It’s very labour intensive and requires a lot of research.
When the final book is ready, we send it out to our country contact for review and to get their feedback before we publish it.
Wow, that is a lot of work. Plus it’s very thorough. Between the two of you, who does what in the writing process?
Lebo M does most of the writing while Lebo C functions as a sounding board, brainstorm buddy and cheerleader. So we do a bit of everything based on our strengths. It’s a true partnership.
As it should be! Africa is naturally a huge factor in the books, but where else do you draw inspiration for these stories?
We draw inspiration from a lot of literature. Our reading begets reading, which is a crucial element in the process. Sometimes inspiration can also come from our children, as we see them engaging different content on various platforms, which is essential because this is targeted at children.
How has the response been? What about beyond Southern Africa? How many books have you released so far?
There has been an overwhelming buzz and excitement for the project and even awareness from others that what we do definitely fills a gap in the market. The journey is long, and we do realise that most of the reaping will not be instant, and we need to keep sowing and ploughing.
Because we engage with people from every country, it’s almost as though they are our ambassadors sharing our content, so to have even one person in each country excited about Kids Adventures in Africa thrills us. We have published 5 books since Africa Day.
So, what’s next for the Kids’ Adventures in Africa book series?
At the same time as the books, we are building an educational Youtube channel featuring kids from all over the continent sharing content about Africa.
We have big dreams that will see us scaling up our venture to board games, dynamic content, an entire curated store – Africa is our oyster, but first, let’s get all the books for each country done!
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with big aspirations! Say I’m a parent in Nigeria, love the concept and want to get my hands on the books for my children. Where can I buy them? How much do they retail at?
The books retail at $3.50 and are available in 2 formats; eBooks on Amazon and Google Play.
They are also available as downloadable PDFs from our website. We hope to go to print in due time for those who want the physical book.
The faces behind the pen
The co-authors, Lebo M. and Lebo C come from very different backgrounds to the ones you’d imagine. Lebo M. is an Investment Analyst and an Entrepreneur. She has spent most of her career working in finance, number crunching, and conducting research and analysis of African markets. She is passionate about teaching the next generation about Africa’s place and contribution to the world economy. Lebo lives in Johannesburg with her husband and 2 children.
Lebo C. is a homeschool momma by day and digital marketer by nap time. She has spent most of her career as a digital marketing strategist for various brands, big and small. Lebo is passionate about local storytelling and children’s literature. You will often find her indulging her children with a read-aloud while sipping on coffee. Her motto is ‘read to children as much as possible’.
Interested in the Kids’ Adventures in Africa book series? Please click the following links:
FREE! Algeria book: https://mailchi.mp/87634cffd560/kids-adventures-in-africa
Buy the downloadable PDF: https://kidsadventuresinafrica.com/shop/
Article by YourBotswana writer
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