Ideal stories for the little ones

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GROWING up, I remember reading tiny little books, starting with My Red Little Book, soon graduating to the Blue Books and then the Wide Range Readers.
The Lady Bird series followed and then we began to devour the Nancy Drews.
We got older and through our initiatives, we began to access hitherto forbidden literature in the form of James Hardley Chase novels.
The resourceful among us would access Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels.
Looking back and taking stock, I realise there was little or no local literature at all in English, it was all foreign from kindergarten right up to adult literature.
While it is heartening that today we have many local writers producing literature in English telling our stories, with remarkable new writers such as Philip Chidavaenzi, among others, it is disturbing that there seems to be very limited works for children.
Of course, there are those little books that introduce children to the English language, but many of them do not do so in story form.
I am yet to bump into local versions of the Nancy Drews that can capture the imagination of our children.
Hence my delight when I bumped into one David Murambwi.
He is an unassuming man.
Having suffered a stroke that left him with speech impairment and difficulty in walking, on sight one might dismiss him as of no consequence.
Having insisted on an audience, he presented five little books and he says there are many more of this kind he has written.
The five little books with titles like Wise Little Tafara, Reminded Part 1, Stung by Wasps, Brave Little Tsitsi and Shocked made interesting and refreshing reading.
While they are fun, they are also educative.
These are books that can be easily understood by children in pre-school and those just beginning their primary education.
The books cover very serious topics from pertinent political to social issues.
For instance, in Wise Little Tafara, the boy in the story gets to explain to his father what the Land Reform Programme means.
It is a superb introduction to the land story to our young.
In very simple terminology and a fascinating story, the young get to understand what the Land Reform Programme is all about and why it was carried out.
In the story that takes no more than five minutes to read, one gets to know a lot about the exercise.
Initially the father is livid that the farm has been taken away from the white owner to be given to blacks only for little Tafara to explain to his father the importance of the exercise.
“This is unfair. Very unfair. Where are we to go now? People have taken Mr Brown’s farm. They are building their huts all over there,” laments the father.
And wise little Tafara replies: “Ah, that’s what you are worried about? Let them do so. It’s our land. It’s our right too. The Government is right.”
“No father. Mr Brown has no farm. He didn’t bring a farm from Britain. It’s our farm… it’s our right to take our land, even God knows this.”
These are the types of books that must be read alongside the fairytales of Snow White and Adventures of King Arthur.
They are more relevant to our situation and will develop citizens who are conscious of the story of their country.
In Reminded, the author questions the logic behind the need to compensate former white farmers.
According to the little book, it is the whites who should in fact compensate blacks.
“Our fore parents were removed from rich areas and dumped in rocky areas. Their cattle were seized. Black people were sold. Some were killed too. But no compensation was made to them. Weren’t they people?” says Murambwi.
“We fought to free you. So let’s protect our freedom. Many people died for you to be free.”
Brave Little Tsitsi is about empowering the girl child.
The little girl in the book is raped by her father for ritual purposes that are supposed to make the family ‘rich’, but the lass speaks out against the evil and reports the matter to the police.
In Shocked, the author highlights the importance of hard work as the little boy in the story refuses to inherit a snake that ‘spits’ money from his father.
“No father. A snake can’t make me rich. It’s impossible… we must work hard father! I can’t keep a snake in order to be rich,” retorts the little boy.
Apparently the writer has more than 100 stories yet to be published.

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