A New Project.. Introducing Mbife Books

It has been a terribly long time since I blogged,
I have to say two kids
A PhD,
And a job have become quite the juggling act.
But everything seems to be coming along quite nicely now.
There has been one new development..I’ve decided to start my own company and here is why.

In March 2018, one of my greatest fears came to life,
my daughter (aged 4) looked at me and told me she didn’t want to be brown anymore.
She didn’t want to be different.
She wanted to look like everyone else.

Being a third culture kid myself, my husband and I have raised our children in a world as diverse as we could provide in our choice of schools, teachers, friends, tv shows, travels everything was deliberately selected and vetted to broaden her mind and show her the beauty and complexity of her culture.
She has already travelled 3 times to London, twice to LA, twice to the Gambia, once to Senegal and several other trips.

So, when she shared with me how she was feeling, I was not sure what else I could do.
We spoke, and I comforted her and reminded her of the beauty of her brown and I decided to focus on enriching her self-esteem.

I could not change the world she lived in, but I could change how she lived in the world.

We spent even more time together,
just talking and playing.
I worked with her school to ensure they were aware and supported and one thing we did which made such a difference was
we read books where she could see herself.
I went through the library in her room and picked all books with African or diasporan characters and we read them over and over.
I made up songs for her from the books and I hoped that it would help.

One evening I was in the kitchen as she was in the bath and I heard her sing “kwela Ella African princess, Kwela mummy African queen, Kwela we are African beauties”
it was one of the made songs from the book Jamela’s Dress by Niki Daly which we loved and read so often.

It was then that I decided to create my company to bring more books to children like mine.
We tried to order more books from amazon and I was told the wait for delivery was three months as there was not a large demand for books like the ones we had ordered and I knew then, something had to be done.

And so, I am doing it.

The idea is to become an author and create a series of children’s books which primarily showcase and introduce some Gambian and west African cultural aspects (because that is where I’m from).

I would also like to translate into Swedish and make available children’s books which focus on diversity and representation. There are some wonderful tales and stories out there, from Africa and its diaspora and I would love to bring them to a Swedish audience .

Children’s books can act like both mirrors and windows on the world. Mirrors in that they can reflect on children’s own lives, and windows in that they can give children a chance to learn about someone else’s life.

It is important that the voices of people of all backgrounds and ethnicities are amplified and that they see themselves represented equitably across all disciplines and media. However, research suggests that over 80% of characters in children’s books are white – which clearly doesn’t reflect the reality of our world .

One of the most powerful forms of representation comes in books, beginning with children’s picture books, as images of all types of people and cultures activate the imagination and help foster respect for diversity and empathy for others. In this way, books and stories can make an enormous difference in dispelling stereotypes and prejudice and building community.

It is especially important for babies to see themselves portrayed through books and other media, as self-concept and self-esteem, which form the foundation for children’s social-emotional development, begin developing in infancy.

It is true that just featuring a minority character isn’t enough to create quality diverse literature, but it is a first step. you can follow our journey



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