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Meet Maria’s Magical world of Kanga

Photo credits : Mommy and Alma, Dar es Salaam Tanzania

Meet Maria Biswalo, an international educator and mother to bicultural children. She is a lover of arts, fashion and edutainment. We had a banter about her creative journey to the sensational and crowd pleaser children’s book “ Mama’s magical kanga” and here is the inside scoop.

Read more: Meet Maria’s Magical world of Kanga

What inspired your journey to become an author /  journey to creativity ?

My children and a lack of culturally relevant children’s books for children under 5 in Kiswahili. My children are bicultural and in their early exposure to literature and books, we could find a myriad of books in German, depicting German culture but very few in Kiswahili which were not translations of works outside of Tanzanian/ East African culture.

As a child, what was your favorite story to read or listen to ?

My earliest recollection of books were the Berenstain Bears. Sister Bear and Brother Bear were my besties growing! I believe my mom might still have a few battered yet well loved copies on her bookshelf!

Was there a particular thing or inspiration that made you think “ I want to share my stories ?”

The statement “no time like the present” comes to mind. It all came to a head during the Pandemic. I was teaching at an international school in the Netherlands at the time. My teaching group decided to share stories from our home countries. As I scoured to find books in my home library, it dawned on me that I didn’t have a large collection of age-appropriate stories for 6 year olds. I did share one which was also my children’s favourite, and during the read aloud response, one of my students noticed the recurring kanga in the book. I created an additional presentation on what I and children use the kanga and that was the brainstorm that sparked the beginnings of Mama’s Magical Kanga.

Is there something you wish you knew before you started ?

Funnily not really! I took on this journey as an adventure. I did a lot of reading and research. The amount of YouTube watching and writers blogs I read were endless. Most of the information shared was from US based indie/self published writers and so I had to sift through a lot of work out where I fit in. When I started documenting my journey on Instagram various diasporan authors reached out and shared their journey and they became my support system. Leaning into the fact that all our journeys are different really helped me to follow my own path.

Finish this sentence, to trap my creativity, I………………………

play dress up!

What are some of the books or authors that have inspired your writing or creative journey ?

This is a tough one. I am a voracious reader myself, an early years and lower primary educator and so you can imagine the range! One of my favourite past-times is browsing children’s books for the sole purpose of seeing how others are creating. Seeing the versatility in style and others’ ways of storytelling is the true inspiration.

What do you do when you are not writing ?

Reading or channeling my creativity through styling myself. I am a fashion lover.

Describe your book(s) for people who are just learning about it

My first book pays homage to a beloved garment, the kanga. The kanga is a cultural symbol that any child born into a Tanzanian home will instantly connect with. A little girl tells her story of how she views her Mama’s kanga.

Some advice for aspiring authors ?

Take you time, set your own pace. Be clear on your audience and your purpose. Have a good literary circle that will help hone your skills and give you constructive criticism. Share your work. It’s nerve-wracking to begin with but you can never anticipate the reception of your work to the world- both positive and negative. Just do it!

Fun question trivia 

Where to find her books ?

Amazon & Mommy&Alma

You can also reach out directly via :

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