Thursday saw the launch of Professor Thuli Mandonsela’s first foray into children’s literature with a book called Melo’s Kingdom.
Held at the Indaba Hotel in Sandton and emceed by Elana Afrika-Bredenkamp, the beloved former Public Protector told the media that writing a book for kids had always been a dream of hers.
“I’ve had this dream for very long, even before I was Public Protector,” she said. “Over the years, I had thought that storytelling had disappeared and, with it, the ability to connect with those who came before us. Because, through these stories, wisdom was passed.”
The book is co-written by members of her family – her daughter Wenzile Madonsela Msimanga, Khulekile Msimanga and Zedekiah Msimanga.
Madonsela said her inspiration came from watching the Winnie the Pooh film, Christopher Robin, on a return flight from London and imagining her granddaughter, Melo, as Christopher Robin. But instead of a honey-eating bear, Madonsela included a purple elephant called Queen Nzinga.
“Our little princess, Melokuhle or Melo, had just arrived with much fanfare. My first gift to her was a giant elephant that my daughter, Wenzile, promptly named Nzinga. Incidentally, Nzinga is also the main character in another children’s book about an Angolan princess who led the fight against the Portuguese when her weak brother couldn’t.”
Madonsela said that, with the book, she hopes to provide children with a moral compass and to instil in them the idea that everyone is a princess or prince, “because we were all created by God and have celestial royalty”.
Melo’s Kingdom states: “Each of the charming stories explores an African proverb and incorporates biblical principles to inspire and educate children in an engaging way.
“The stories written by Thuli Madonsela and members of her family highlight the importance of values such as honesty, courage, respect, teamwork and kindness, while exploring the wonders of creation.”
Yvonne Chaka Chaka popped in to the launch to say hello, and Melo herself was there. She babbled happily throughout the proceedings, and at one point left her chair to sit on her mother’s lap at the panel’s table, much to the delight of the media and photographers.
The book is available at a recommended selling price of R199 online and at all good book stores