My new children’s story Dust and Rain: Chipo and Chibwe Save the Green Valley is published. I am very proud that Gadsden Publishers of Lusaka Zambia decided to launch it this April 2022 and I have spent the last two weeks talking about it in Lusaka, Zambia and Harare, Zimbabwe.
Dust and Rain is a story about the dramatic effects of climate change on our world and on Southern Africa and it is written for young readers. Chipo, the heroine, tells us about her exciting adventures as she and her brother Chibwe go on a quest through modern and magical Africa to save their farm from drought. The story will make children think about, question, and then try to find creative solutions for the climate change that affects all of us. Gadsden Publishers have carefully edited and examined it for detail, accuracy and its relevance and appeal for children today.
The adventures of Chipo and Chibwe
On their journey, Chipo and Chibwe encounter criminals, street children, exploitation and HIV/AIDS but also good, kind, brave and generous people and some who have mysterious and magical gifts. They discover and start to understand the nature of animals and the essential interaction of humans with the natural world as well as their history, tradition and spirituality.
Gadsden Publishers arranged for me to meet Daniel Sikazwe of PEN Zambia and I was interviewed on his Zambian radio programme Writers’ Circle. This was a very worthwhile experience. Daniel believes Dust and Rain to be an important book for Zambian children at a time of climate change.
Wildlife and Environmental Society of Zambia
Gadsden Publishers also introduced me to Sikela Namangolwa, the education officer of the Lusaka branch of the Wildlife and Environmental Society of Zambia (WECSZ). Sikela arranged for me to discuss my book on Chongololo Club of the Air, a programme for children run by WECZ. This is an organisation I have known and admired since I was first in Zambia in 1972 and a friend of Anne Hyatt, one of its originators and artists. I was delighted that my book was mentioned on it. Speaking of artists, I am thrilled that Style Kunda, a well-known Zambian artist, made the lovely painting on the cover of Dust and Rain.
Lubuto Model Library
I also had the immense pleasure of talking about Dust and Rain to Lubuto Model Library children in Lusaka Garden Compound where I meet the inspiring Kenny and Brenda. Thanks to Besa and Hadassah of Lubuto Library Partners www.lubuto.org for arranging it. I am particularly impressed by the work of the Lubuto Library organisation. They choose to work with vulnerable children in some of the poorest places in Zambia using drama, art and music to help and mentor vulnerable children and young single mothers to learn to read and express themselves. They have libraries in Choma and Monze. Do follow them on Twitter and on Facebook. Please also consider donating to this wonderful organisation.
Petina Gappah children’s Library Harare
I particularly wanted to donate Dust and Rain to the Petina Gappah Children’s Library in the Harare Library. I have already given them copies of some of my other books. I was able to do this and to meet Sindiso Moyo, Tamary Grace Mpedziswa, and Antonetta Whacha and I am very grateful to them all for giving me the opportunity to talk about my story and about the craft of writing. I greatly admire all the people I have met who believe in literature, education and free speech and work so hard for it at a time when it’s not easy to sustain or maintain and there are so many other issues to face.
The challenges and pleasures of publishing in Southern Africa
In this context, I was also fortunate to meet and talk to Irene Staunton and Murray McCartney of Weaver Press Harare about the pleasures and the challenges of publishing in Zimbabwe today. Another person to whom I am deeply indebted for her editing and helping with arrangements in Lusaka and with my book is Nikki Ashley.
Understanding Climate Change
I want to thank everyone I met for their generous support and readiness to help promote Dust and Rain, both for its climate change theme but also because it is a topical book for children in Africa. I have given away many copies of my book and I hope that people who read it will post reviews on my website and on the Gadsden Publishers Facebook too. Last and most important, I must thank John for his encouragement and support at every stage of my writing.
All my life I have written and made art. I am a feminist and from my school days in Zimbabwe, I have always cared about human rights and equality. I am passionate about encouraging creative problem-solving and free speech and the evidence for that can be seen in all my books, art, and poetry and in my teaching. Sustainable food production, permaculture, gardening and the preservation of the natural world are my concern.