Ambesiwe Mbana has written a novel about inner peace and finding a way to move forward. She is 13 years old.
The Marconi Beam pupil wrote Kungakuqhuma Kubasiwe (Where there’s Smoke there’s Fire) last year while in Grade 6.
The 100-page book was written with her mother, Vatiswa Mbana, in mind. Ms Mbana raised Ambesiwe by herself.
“Kungakuqhuma Kubasiwe is about peace. You can fight and try to kill each other, but, at the end of the day, you have to learn to forgive, forget and move on. No one wants to be a single parent,” says Ambesiwe.
“I wrote the book for my mother who struggled as a single mother, and, hopefully, it will help her to move on.”
The book is written in Xhosa, and Ambesiwe wrote each page out by hand because she doesn’t have a laptop.
She asked her teacher for help along the way, especially with some of the more difficult words she wanted to use. “I wanted the book to be written well. I did not want people to underestimate the book when they found out how old I was.”
While this is the first time Ambesiwe has been published, Kungakuqhuma Kubasiwe is not her first book. She wrote a series of short stories during her school holidays in her home town of Nyibeni, in the Eastern Cape. But she didn’t know how to go about getting it published.
“My grandmother threw the book away eventually because it was just lying around,” says the teenager.
When she wrote Kungakuqhuma Kubasiwe she decided she wanted it published.
“I feel I have a gift for writing, and I want to encourage others my age who also have a gift for writing. I want to show them the way.”
She spoke to her mother and stepfather about her publishing plans and her stepfather introduced her to an old friend of his, Gugulethu author Zinqule Mdlengele, who has written several short stories and novels, including Nyanisekani Ma’Afrika (Be Faithful Mama Africa ) and Isolomntu (Human Eye).
Ambesiwe gave him the manuscript and about two months later it was returned to her with notes on where she needed to make changes.
In August the book was published by Salvation Publishing and a copy can be found at the Khayelitsha library.
Holding the book in her hand, Ambesiwe says seeing her name on the cover is an unreal feeling.
She also writes poetry and would like to have some of her poems published next.
Ms Mbana is very proud of her daughter.
“I want her to continue with her writing. She’s already started on her collection of poems. She’s very good. I’m so proud of her.”