South Africa's Youngest Novelist, 7-year-old Michelle Nkamankeng, Wants to Inspire Others

Micelle au micro dans les studios de la radio Powerfm987. Micelle au micro dans les studios de la radio Powerfm987. Photo extraite de Twitter

On the Microphone: Michelle Nkamankeng in the studio at Powerfm987 radio station. Photo via @Powerfm987 sur Twitter

After publishing her first novel Waiting for the Waves, seven-year-old South African Michelle Nkamankeng is being bowled over with requests for interviews and invitations to literary festivals.

Michelle's novel tells the story of a little girl on holiday with her parents at a seaside resort. The girl, with the help of her loved ones, has to overcome her fear of waves. The novel is the first installment of a tetralogy. She's already reportedly working on the next edition.

In an article about the young author for Ecce Africa, a news site dedicated to strengthening Africa's positive image, Servan Ahougnon writes:

Michelle Nkamankeng relies on her parents’ full support, particularly her mother. The latter founded LANSM Publishing so that her daughter's book would be published. Nevertheless, it is easy for Africa's youngest author to talk about her passion with those around her.

When asked about what she thinks about herself and what she is currently achieving, Nkamankeng said, “I'm a humble little girl who writes books. I'm self confident and I inspire young children to follow their dreams”.

Daniel Orubo for describes Michelle's mother's efforts in helping her and the young writer's aspirations:

 La mère de Michelle a dû tout apprendre pour réussir à faire publier le livre de sa fille. Elle a même fini par créer sa propre maison d’édition. Interrogée par le site de la province de Gauteng, Michelle a évoqué ses espoirs pour son livre et pour l’avenir: “J’espère qu’on pourra gagner assez d’argent avec le premier livre pour publier les trois autres volumes de la série.” Le livre est disponible sur Amazon depuis le 11 octobre.

Michelle's mother had to learn from the ground up in order to be able to successfully publish her daughter's book. She even ended up founding her own publisher's. In an interview with the Guateng province's website, Michelle talks about her hopes for her book and for the future, “I hope that I can earn enough money from my first book so that I can publish the next three volumes in the series.” The book will be available on Amazon from the 11 October.

The website Farable Weekly, which acts as a news hub for all African trends on art, culture, fashion, music and cinema, also writes about the phenomenon that surrounds the young author. Writer Goke Alabi states:

At an age where most girls will be busy playing with toys or watching cartoons, 7-year old Michelle Nkamankeng is making the list of the top 10 youngest authors in the world.

The young South African becomes the youngest author out of Africa after she published her first novel ‘Waiting for Waves’.

Negro News, a community site for francophone Africa, summarises the novel's content and includes Nkamankeng's father Paul's thoughts on his daughter's work:

Son livre qu’elle a écrit à l’âge de six ans raconte l’histoire d’une petite fille appelée Titi et sa famille qui vivent loin de la plage. Un jour, ils sont allés à la plage, mais la petite fille Titi avait peur des vagues et sa famille l’a aidé a affronté ses peurs. L’inspiration du livre lui est venue après avoir était à la plage avec sa famille.

Le père de Michelle, Paul Nkamankeng raconte qu’il ne savait pas que sa fille était en train d’écrire un livre jusqu’à ce qu’il soit terminé.

« La seule chose que nous avons remarqué quand elle avait environ quatre à cinq ans, c’était que Michelle aimait lire. Elle voulait tout le temps que nous allions à la librairie pour acheter des livres pour les enfants et elle terminait de les lire en une semaine. Quand elle a eu cinq ans, nous l’avons emmené à la plage pour la première fois et elle m’a demandé pourquoi tout le monde regardait l’océan, et je lui ai répondu qu’ils attendaient les vagues » explique Paul.

Le roman, «Waiting for the Waves» est le premier tome d’une série de quatre.

À part l’écriture Michelle Nkamankeng aime pratiquer le ballet, la natation et la gymnastique.

The book, which she wrote at the age of six, tells the story of a girl called Titi and her family, who live far away from the coast. One day, they went to the beach, but Titi was scared of the waves. Her family then help her to confront her fears. [Michelle] got inspiration for the novel after visiting the beach with her family. Michelle's father, Paul Nkamankeng, tells us about how he did not even know that his daughter was writing a book until after it was finished. “The only thing we knew when [Michelle] was about four or five years old, was that she liked to read. She always wanted us to take her to the bookshop to buy children's books, and she would finish reading them in a week. When she was five, we took her to the beach for the first time where she asked me why everybody was looking out at the ocean. I told her that they were waiting for the waves”. The novel Waiting for the Waves is to be the first of a series of four volumes. When she isn't writing, Michelle Nkamankeng likes to do ballet, gymnastics, and to swim.

The precocious writer has, under the guidance of her mother, already established herself on Facebook and Twitter (links to her Facebook page and Twitter account here). The publication of her book has made her a star, and she has been invited to interviews and talks by schools, non-government organizations such as UNICEF, and TV and radio stations such as, Insta:, Radio2000, and POWER98.7. Even the BBC has contacted Michelle Nkamankeng for an interview:

It was announced on Nkamankeng's Facebook page that she was to be one of the guests of honour at the SA Literary Awards 2016:

Michelle is currently on her way to Pretoria as a special guest of honour to the 11th SA Literary Awards (SALA) taking place tonight!

Michelle is indeed living proof of the famous words from Pierre Corneille's, Le Cid: “for souls nobly born, valor doesn't await the passing of years”.

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