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Say hello to Search Hero Lynn from South Africa! Lynn has an active imagination; she likes to muse about the existence of extraterrestrial life. Let's have a chat with her to find out more!

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I live in Cape Town, I am passionate about literacy and writing and yes, I believe UFO’s are real!

What is your day job and what activities do you enjoy in your leisure time?

I’m a Healthcare administrator and I enjoy reading and writing. Books always take me to new worlds and allow me to experience new things.  Reading is King!

 Let’s take our reader on a trip down memory lane. What did your 8 year-old self want to become in future and were they in any way influenced by the books you read?

My 8 year-old self wanted to be a lawyer but I don’t know if it’s because of the books I read. I have always had a passion for law, history and education.

Who was your favourite storybook character growing up?

It would have to be all the characters of the MoloSongolo series. They are all so interesting!

What would be your biggest dream for African children’s literature?

I want African children’s literature to get widespread exposure but ultimately getting African kids reading.

How does it feel to be named a Search Hero for the Golden Baobab Prize?

It is a true honour, and I will dedicate my time to fostering the ethos of the Golden Baobab Prize.

What kind of superpowers will you be contributing to enhance the Golden Baobab Prize search for captivating African stories for children?

I am planning to start a blog, and the first post will be LITERACY IN AFRICA. I will tweet and just get a dialogue going and get more people on board to support, assist and make us GROW.

Where can people connect with you on the world wide web?

Via twitter @Ling83

Well South Africa, there you have it! Look out for Lynn, Search Hero No. 4 for the Golden Baobab Prize!

 

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 A very big welcome to Search Hero Zahrah Nesbitt-Ahmed from Nigeria! Zahrah loves to travel, read and do a whole bunch of other things. Read her interview and find out what they are!

 

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I was born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria, in a diverse household with a father from Nasarawa in Northern Nigeria and a mother from England via St.Kitts in the West Indies. I grew up surrounded by shelves filled with books, music constantly playing, delicious Nigerian and Caribbean food and great conversation, which is probably why those are some of my favourite things in the world.

What is your day job and what activities do you enjoy in your leisure time?

For nearly four years I have been a PhD student at the London School of Economics where I research and teach on gender and the urban aspects of international development. When I'm not being an academic-in-training, I blog through bookshy about African literature and book culture. Some of my favourite things in the world to do for fun are to read, draw, create playlists with different songs based on my mood and/or the occasion, take photos of the things in cities people tend to ignore, travel, and have great conversation and laugh over good food with friends and family. One of the things I love doing the most, however, is curling up on the couch (usually with a cup of tea) and watching series. Right now I’m watching Scandal and Arrested Development, and catching up on The Vampire Dairies (I never said it was all great TV).

Let’s take our readers on a trip down memory lane. What did your 8 year-old self want to become in future and were they in any way influenced by the books you read?

I wanted to be a cartoonist. Although I loved reading all types of books as a kid, I absolutely loved comics and my favourite was Asterix. I also loved Archie, but that might have been in secondary school. Others I loved to read when/if they were available were Garfield and Friends, Beano, Dennis the Menace, and Peanuts. These comics greatly influenced my desire to become a cartoonist, especially Asterix. I remember one afternoon being bored after I had read one of my comics (probably for the 100th time) and decided to try and copy one of the characters in them. It might have either been Obelix or Panacea (his love interest). While I never did go to art school, I still harbour the dreams of an 8-year old who wanted to draw the cartoons in the comics she read.

This is the tough one: Who was your favorite storybook character growing up?

This really is a tough question! It’s pretty hard to choose a favourite but I was the hugest fan of Roald Dahl’s novels. I read them all, which is why it’s so hard to pick one. There’s the Big Friendly Giant, The Grandma from “The Witches”, Matilda, the adorable Mr Hoppy in “Esio Trot”, and even Fantastic Mr. Fox. Yet while Roald Dahl had some amazing heroes, he also had some memorable villains. The Grand High Witch from “The Witches” scared me as a kid, and there was Mr. and Mrs. Twit from “The Twits”.

What would be your biggest dream for African children’s literature?

For a child that is 8 years old in 2013 being asked 20 years from now, “Who was their favourite storybook character growing up?” and being able to reply – a famous character in an African novel.

How does it feel to be named a Search Hero for the Golden Baobab Prize?

Very surprised, extremely honoured and ready for the challenge.

What kind of superpowers will you be contributing to enhance the Golden Baobab Prize search for captivating African stories for children?

Probably not the coolest superpower, but resourcefulness, that way I can use everything I am given (hopefully in a creative way) to contribute to the Golden Baobab Prize search.

Where can people connect with you on the world wide web?

Blog: bookshybooks.blogspot.co.uk

Twitter: @bookshybooks

Facebook: bookshy

Tumblr: Africanbookcovers.tumblr.com

 Well Nigeria, there you have it! Look out for Zahrah, Search Hero No. 3 for the Golden Baobab Prize!

 

 

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Meet Search Hero Aleya Kassam from Kenya! Aleya is one of the most interesting people you’ll ever meet, read the interview we had with her and find out why!


Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

The first thing you should know about me is that ever since I could read, I have always had my nose buried in a book; it is almost an affliction. I am an avid bookworm, and I am shameless about trying to get other people hooked on reading. I am Kenyan, and really excited to be living in this country at a time where the creative industry is buzzing, you can almost taste the energy in the air! What else...I come from a big, chaotic Indian family where Sunday lunches are an institution on their own; the doors are flung open around midday, and people stream in all day long. Lunch is an all day affair, going late into the evening, capped by popcorn made by my Grandpa.

What is your day job and what activities do you enjoy in your leisure time?

I am pretty sure I have the best job in the world! I put together the Storymoja Hay Festival, which is a four day celebration of stories, ideas, writing and cultural expression. We bring together poets, storytellers, writers, artists and thinkers from around the world in a veritable feast of juicy discussions, performances, workshops and exhibitions. It is a family affair which Ben Okri called a ‘magical experience’ :)

The children’s program of the festival takes place in the Storyhippo village and it has wonderful activities for kids of all ages, a space where they can publish their own books, storytelling, poetry jams, robotics and innovation camps...it is a creative zone where books come to life, imagination takes centre stage and where we hope to infect every child with that reading bug for life. This year’s festival takes place from the 19th to 22nd September at the Nairobi National Museum.

In my leisure time, I read...a lot! I also really enjoy going to poetry events, listening to live music and spending time with people who make me giggle.

Let’s take our reader on a trip down memory lane. What did your 8 year-old self want to become in future and were they in any way influenced by the books you read?

Gosh. 8 years old feels like a long time ago! I remember reading a lot of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five and wanting to become a detective...you know, the kind that unearths the clues, to solve the puzzle that will lead to the quest and possibly, treasure! I still get excited by the idea of treasure. In a way, those books awakened in me a curiosity to explore and try and understand the world around me. That curiosity is still very much within me, and despite good old Google, nothing beats the giddy high of new discovery. Perhaps that is the allure of books for me, I get to continuously discover new things about the world and about us as human beings. I think even now, life can be like a quest; piecing bits of a puzzle together, getting stumped by dead ends, picking yourself up, persevering, and surrounding yourself with people who support, energize, inspire and make you laugh.

This is the tough one: Who was your favorite storybook character growing up?

Actually, this one is not so tough :) I absolutely adore Roald Dahl, and my two favourite characters are the Big Friendly Giant and Matilda. I can’t tell you how many hours I spent staring at my pencil, absolutely and utterly convinced, that if I just tried hard enough, surely it would move. I am a little nostalgic for that little girl who believed that absolutely anything was possible in this world, no matter how audacious. I love Matilda for making me feel that way, and every now and then I have to remind myself of the power of believing in your dreams.

The BFG is my most favourite. Who can resist that wonderful friendly giant, who blows dreams into your bedroom, eats snozzcumbers and makes whizpoppers! The book was absolutely scrumdidlyumptious! My favourite books took me to other worlds and introduced me to the most fantastical of characters.

What would be your biggest dream for African children’s literature?

I want children from Africa to have this overflowing treasure trove of fantastic books that show their world in it, superheroes that look and talk like them, characters that they can identify with, adventures in the places they see around them, and in a language that is theirs. I want children’s authors to be able to build careers off of feeding children’s imaginations such that children dream of becoming children’s authors themselves.

I want to see children around the world, lining up outside bookshops to buy the latest book that has come out from the Africa, and making the Harry Potter mania look like it was miniscule in comparison. I want our books to be translated into every language in the world, so children all over the globe can enjoy our stories.

I want African children’s literature to be bold, to dip and dive into all sorts of genres, from science fiction, to fantasy, from horror to comics. I want children’s literature not to have a tiny specialist section at the bookshop, but to sit proudly next to and outsell Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and know that the demand for our literature is not just for the novelty of it coming from Africa, but because the stories are just simply irresistible, and the world recognizes them as such.

I want African children’s authors to be celebrated in the way musicians are in our country. I want to climb a matatu and see all the kids in it reading out of sheer pleasure, to have to jostle for space at the bookshop because it is overflowing with people wanting to buy books. What a joy!

How does it feel to be named a Search Hero for the Golden Baobab Prize?

You already know how much I love discovery, and nothing gives me more pleasure than the discovery of a great story. Working at Storymoja, a Kenyan Publishing House, our dream is to get a book in every hand, and we are passionate about promoting African literature for children. I am always really excited to hear of organizations that are also doing great work in this sphere, and I think the Golden Baobab Prize is a fantastic initiative. I am excited to join hands to find our continent’s next crop of writers and stories that will have children staying up past their bedtime, reading with a torch under their blankets.

What kind of superpowers will you be contributing to enhance the Golden Baobab Prize search for captivating African stories for children?

Hundreds of wide reaching sticky tentacles to attract all those writers out there with great children’s stories hidden in the recesses of their brains..or laptops.

A ginormous invisible magenta cloak that spreads the joy of reading and the importance for African children to see themselves in the pages of a book.

Most of all, an infectious passion to discover and share great stories that set alight the imagination of children around the continent so that they may fall in love with reading forever.

Where can people connect with you on the world wide web?

They can follow me on twitter @aleyakassam. They can also keep up with all that is happening with Storymoja on www.storymojaafrica.co.ke and be our friends on Facebook: Storymoja and Storymoja Hay Festival. On Twitter we are @Storymoja and @SMHayFest.

Well Kenya, there you have it! Look out for Aleya Kassam, Search Hero No. 2 for the Golden Baobab Prize!

 

 

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Hello everyone!

We at Golden Baobab are excited to introduce you to our first 2013 Golden Baobab Prize Search Hero!
Search Hero Nana Yaw is from Ghana and he’s supporting Golden Baobab in its search for amazing new African writers.

Here’s an interesting interview we had with Nana Yaw to find out more about him. Enjoy!

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’m Nana Yaw and I’m a writer and a poet at large.

What is your day job and what activities do you enjoy in your leisure time?

I work with the Writers Project of Ghana as a Media and Projects Officer. I’m responsible, among other things, for the expansion of our programs to new media and scouting for more avenues to create a space for writers in Ghana. Usually, I play tennis, volunteer for programs in the areas of creative writing, youth and development, and spend time with my spouse. I also collaborate with other young people within Blogging Ghana to execute social media projects.

Let’s take our readers on a trip down memory lane. What did your 8 year-old self want to become in future and were they in any way influenced by the books you read?

I don’t remember wanting any particular career. I was probably too busy running around tennis courts and being a child. There was a brief period where I wanted to be a doctor but then I failed at math and excelled in English! I remember reading some titles in the African Writers Series and today I work to promote African literature and writers.

This is the tough one: Who was your favorite storybook character growing up?

Nothing beats Ananse. I had more of an oral storytelling upbringing as opposed to being read to from children’s storybooks. Many Ananse stories stuck with me because they were so thrilling! I think I even fell in love with Okonore Yaa, his wife.

What would be your biggest dream for African children’s literature?

A library in every community in Ghana stocked with children’s storybooks which have been written and illustrated by Africans. That day, we would have achieved something monumental.

How does it feel to be named a Search Hero for the Golden Baobab Prize?

I usually like working quietly but I have always believed in the Golden Baobab Prize’s cause and supported it. Even though being a Search Hero seems rather humongous for me, I’m elated to have been nominated.

What kind of superpowers will you be contributing to enhance the Golden Baobab Prize search for captivating African stories for children?

Superpowers? By a dint of Ananse’s wit and cunning, I will be reaching out to all the writers in the connections I have built. I have social media clout, and I intend to use it well.

Where can people connect with you on the world wide web?

I’m on Creative Writing Ghana on Facebook, creativewritingghana.wordpress.com on weblog and @osarpong and @writingGH on Twitter.

Well, Ghana, there you have it! Look out for Nana Yaw, newest Search Hero for the 2013 Golden Baobab Prize!

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Golden Baobab is proud to introduce the Golden Baobab Prize Search Heroes!

The Search Heroes are competitively selected individuals from various countries who will provide local search support to the prestigious 2013 Golden Baobab Prize for African children’s literature, the goal of which is to encourage African writers to create enthralling stories for children.

The deadline for submission to the prize is July 14th, less than a month away, and as such, our Search Heroes will be hard at work supporting Golden Baobab in their countries of origin or residence by scouring the African continent for the most talented writers of African children’s literature.

Over the next few days, we will be unveiling our amazing Search Heroes on our Facebook page, our Twitter page and here on our blog. We will also feature them in exciting interviews so you can get to know them and what they do.

Keep watching this space and discover who the Golden Baobab Prize Search Heroes are. You never know, they could be from your country!

 

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