Ducere’s vicarious experience of Malawi was through the dedication of Saira Crawford, who volunteered her time to help children in need in her local area and whose wonderful assistance made this collection possible. Saira trained the children, encouraged them to explore a range of imaginative contexts, provided feedback as all good educators do and edited many stories to help make them ready for publication.
The titles of the stories reflect Saira’s success including, The Wonders of Mulange Mountain, Princess Rose and the Magic Apple, Why Monkeys Are Always Scared and The Disobedient Children. These stories reflect the challenge put to the children to think about their subject, explore real and imagined worlds, and to capture the legacy of tales told over hundreds of years by their elders.
The Eighteenth Collection includes stories written by children studying at Michiru C.C.A.P and Mitsidi primary schools, located in the Blantyre District. Blantyre is Malawi’s second largest city and is located in the Shire Highlands, a mountainous region in southern Malawi.
The education of girls in Malawi can be extremely challenging, as they can be confronted and sometimes attacked on their way to school. Dr Joyce Banda was Malawi’s President from 2012–2014, the first woman in Southern Africa to become a head of state. Joyce has become a global advocate for girls and women, and she continues to inspire young people across the country even though times have been fraught with difficulty.
Despite this, Malawians consider themselves a friendly and peaceful people who have nicknamed their country ‘The Warm Heart of Africa’. Nonahiwa Mahala demonstrated this ethos in her story when she wrote,
‘The third wish she made was to live a peaceful and wonderful life’.