My name is Mbali Dipuo Kgame. I was born in Zola in Soweto, but grew up in a small, isolated township called Poortjie in the Vaal. As a teen, I moved back to Zola, so both places have influenced my writing and creativity.
I have written two stories for Nal’ibali, Hair Magic for Radio Stories Season 5 and The Djembe Drum for Season 6. Hair Magic captures the beauty and liveliness of our hair. It is one of the semiotics of how we speak to the world and the world speaks to us. Hair Magic is also about community. The kids in the story journey to Kwa Ntuli to fetch Gogo’s medicine. They find their way by using a map plaited in the hair of one of the girls.
The story, The Djembe Drum, draws on the meaning of a drum in African spirituality. The children in the story experience the power and protection of the drum while they wait for their father to return from work.
I was inspired to write children’s stories because I love spending time with children. I was a facilitator at the African Play School at the KWANZAA festival organised by Ebukhosini Solutions, a teacher at the Afrocentric Kids Academy run by the BlackHouse Kollective, and a reading and writing coach for children at Isikolo Sama Afrika run by Makhanda Black Kollective while doing my Master of Arts degree at Rhodes University. The children I engaged with and learned from, inspired me to write and gave me the confidence to share my stories.
I published with Nal’ibali because I knew that the stories would travel to places out of my reach and would be part of and affirm different children’s lives and learning experiences as they explored these little worlds I’ve built.
I now have the confidence that my stories are valid and fill a need. I remember receiving a call from a friend during lockdown who told me that her daughter’s school principal shared my story on the school’s WhatsApp group.
I am now writing stories for a children’s language interactive app, MenjikPot, and Hair Magic will soon be available for kids to read and interact with on the app.
So, if you have a story idea that you believe in, pen it. Your story is important, and someone out there is waiting to read or hear it.