As a Professor of History, Naledi Nomalanga Mkhize is well aware that history is often told from the perspective of the victors, pushing a certain ideology, rather than unbiased facts. Working as a lecturer, Professor Mkhize was disappointed by the lack of general knowledge displayed by the learners in her class. It was these two factors that pushed her to start writing stories for children. She felt that an interest at a young age would inspire a passion for history when children were older.
Until recently most of the information available to children on the history of Africa related to the development of Egypt, but now through the recently published In Africa with Avi and Kumbi, Mkhize explores a wide range of subjects, including hunting and gathering, ancient African universities, African spiritual beliefs, African industrial development, the struggle for independence, and post-independence.
Describing the book as ‘decolonial’, Mkhize says:
I wanted not to reflect black life as defined by white interventions on the continent, but by the fullness of human history on the continent. So I have not been preoccupied with over-representing white so-called explorers and colonisers – they are very late in Africa’s history. I wanted to represent an Africa without colonial borders. It is important for all our kids to get a sense of this African world where Africans are active agents of their own story in innovation, empire building, education, trade, resistance and liberation.”
With hopes of getting In Africa with Avi and Kumbi into local schools, Mkhize has plans for a series of history books featuring the two young adventurers, with a book on archaeology, and another on the history of technology in the pipeline.
For further information or to order your copy of In Africa with Avi and Kumbi visit www.historyeducation.africa.
Cover photograph of Professor Naledi Nomalanga Mkhize courtesy of city-press.news24.com