Kamapala’s stories promote love and kindness and help to encourage children to have confidence and belief in themselves. After listening to the story, the girls all made a bracelet with colourful fabrics from Cameroon. The girls learned about aspects of life in this country but one of the highlights was learning a special dance. This event was a great way to commemorate Black History Celebrations.
Can you introduce yourself and tell us briefly about yourself?
My name is Kamapala Chuckwuka. I am a wife and mum to three boys. I am the founder and creator of a creative marketing agency. I help clients create businesses, sell books and with their social media. In addition, I am a self-published author. This is something I never expected to become.
What inspired you to start writing books about diversity?
I never thought I would be here today. Being a mum inspired me because my kids adored the library. Every time they borrowed a book, I saw the same faces. I thought, my boys need to be represented in a book somewhere. They needed to see diversity in this world. Now we get to see people from other backgrounds that are included in books. I just want to see my sons represented in some books. It is not just my boys I want to see represented, I want to see stories of people from other backgrounds.
What challenges have you faced as a Black female author?
First of all, if you write a book, you have to raise awareness of it and make it known.
Almost every author you and I know has a publisher. I am proud to be a self-published author. What this means is that I do it all by myself. If you have a publisher, you have another hand to help you. This made it a lot harder for me to become something. I have to work triple hard. And I still face that challenge today. One of the largest challenges I faced was when I completed my first book. My characters were black. People wanted the ‘norm’, they wanted stereotypes, Little white girls and boys playing in the park. They said, make your characters white and ‘normal’. They said why do they have to be black?
How do you hope to inspire children and other authors?
Being an author is a beautiful job, you can be transported to different worlds in books.
When kids see me writing books, they know they can do it, so just pick up your pens and share your views with the world no matter what background or culture you come from.
How do you help other diverse authors bring their stories to life?
I have a Whatsapp group with other diverse authors, together we share tips and pointers. I confess it is hard to start from nothing and become famous. When authors come to me through social media, I am happy to help them. The more diverse authors that exist, the larger the impact. We need more diverse authors.
What changes would you like to see regarding the diversity of children’s books?
When I wrote my first books, only 3% of authors had a diversity element to their stories. Stats have greatly improved 20% over the years to today. We can definitely do more but there is a lot more inclusion. Whether it is people who look like me or not, we want inclusion. With everyone in it.
What has the reaction been to your books?
It has been a positive experience despite the challenges. My first book was about a mother’s love for her child.
I keep writing these books because we need them on our bookshelves.
The theme of my books is the same, kindness, love, happiness and diversity.
I am honoured to be writing about diversity.