Stories are an important part of our lives.
I remember the stories my grandmother told me. I had a close relationship with her. My father was not much of a storyteller, but he did share many of his own life experiences over and over again. When he died, we held on to the memories of the stories and experiences he shared. Telling stories is a part of our collective human experience.
It would seem as Africans in Canada, we need to document more of our stories. In Edmonton and in certain spaces, Africa is perceived as a country and most Africans are seen as refugees, a people starving to death and decimated by poverty. We are viewed by some as a people without much of a culture, a people known for their many attempts to cross the Atlantic on a dingy boat. Unflattering stories of Africans and her people abound. We know that western media perpetuates the story of the orphan child stricken with noisy flies humming around his battered face.
Telling our stories to sophisticated 2020 audience is what the creators behind asilikids.com seek to capture with their colourful illustrations and their books. They hope they can engineer change in our children by getting them knowledgable and excited about our roots. This is important because parents are possibly too tired to share their stories with their children.
Nigerian author Chimamanda Adichie said ‘the single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story‘. The creators of Asilikids.com invite us to an understanding of our heritage and ancestry. They teach culture through stories children find captivating and entertaining. We need this. We need this because our children need to know where they are from. They need to know where they belong. This is important in a society where people don’t fit in or belong.
When we met Sandra Muchekeza at an Artspace event, we knew we would be telling her story soon. We knew we had to give a voice to what she does at Asilikids.com.
Sandra and her sister Dorothy Ghettuba Pala teamed up a couple of years ago to create what we now know as Asilikids.com. They found a gap in the Canadian book market. There was an absence of children’s books ‘depicting African realities’. Asili means ‘source’ or ‘origin’ in Kiswahili. According to their website, Asilikids.com, Asilikids is a children’s brand dedicated to the entertainment and education of our children through African stories.
In a world where Asian children speak and understand their respective languages, it is ever so important that children with African heritage see themselves in common spaces they inhabit. It is important that children are able to find books with pictures that look like them when they go to the library to read or browse for books.
Some of their books are Affirmations ABCs For Little Boys and Girls, Colours of Africa, Mustapha and His Cookies, Harriet’s Humongous Hair, Meka I am Thankful: The Adventures of Meka, The Monkey and the Crocodile and many more.
So support Asilikids.com as they ‘celebrate the power of African stories’. You can do this by sharing this article and by buying their books.