Bella’s adventures in Africa is a self-published Pan African children’s book by British Zimbabwean sisters Rutendo Muzambi and Rebecca Darko, which is beautifully illustrated by Guy Stratton. It follows a girl who leaves England to embark on journey across Africa with her parents. It is a collection of nine short stories based in eight different African countries – Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Côte d’Ivoire, Tanzania, Egypt, and Ethiopia.
Rutendo’s inspiration for writing the book was derived from a number of experiences. One of the key reasons, was her passion for African culture and the need to promote more positive views of Africa. She has always been passionate about celebrating and embracing her African heritage. During her years in secondary school, she was awarded the Jack Petchey Award for her 5 year contribution and commitment to the annual black history competitions. However, she encountered negative stereotypical views from friends and colleagues, who would innocently ask whether Africans lived amongst wild animals and in tiny huts. These views were a far cry from the fun and happy childhood she and her sister had experienced and the modern Africa that we know and love. It appeared to them that some people did not realize that Africa is a continent of many nations, languages, cultures and values. Thus they wanted to write a book that moved away from the stereotypes and showed African children having fun adventures.
Like many other African young people, Rutendo and Rebecca followed the traditional route of going to university and gaining their educational qualifications. Rutendo gained her Masters degree in pharmacy whilst Rebecca also completed her Masters. However, they both still had a passion for writing and wanted to share their love of the African continent with other people. Thus during Rebecca’s maternity leave they began to write short adventure stories set in Africa and completed the book in December 2016.
With over 100 illustrations and adventurous short stories, this book shows African children having adventures. It is important for children to develop an understanding and appreciation of other cultures and to also foster a positive attitude towards people who are of a different background to them. When children of African heritage see themselves reflected in books, it enhances their self-esteem and builds their confidence. It also enables children of African heritage to see their continent in a more positive light, learn more about different African countries and to be proud of their African heritage.
Bella’s Adventures in Africa published on the 17th of January 2017. It is available on Amazon and on their website www.riverfrog.co.uk