South African born Michelle Nkamankeng, the seven-year old author of Waiting for the Waves, recently made history, becoming the youngest author from Africa to be added to the list of the top 10 youngest writers in the world.
Nkamankeng’s father, Paul Nkamankeng, tells DESTINY that he had no idea that his daughter was writing a book until it was complete.
“The only thing we noticed when she was about four to five years old was Michelle loved reading. She would want us to go to the bookstore and buy her children’s books and she would finish reading them within a week. When she turned five, we took her to the beach for the first time and she asked me why everyone was looking at the ocean, and I told her they were waiting for the waves,” Paul says.
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It was at this point that Michelle told him that he had just given her an idea for her first book.
“I just laughed it off and didn’t think anything of it. She started grabbing papers from our printer and folded them to look like a book, and she did all of this in secret. We had no idea what she was doing until she gave her mother the handwritten, stapled-together and Sellotaped manuscript. She said, ‘Mom, this is my book!,” Paul says.
Nkamankeng’s father says that they were very surprised by this, and eventually stored the manuscript in their bookshelf. Nkamankeng then wrote her second book, then a third and when she wrote the fourth book, she told her parents that if they had no plans of publishing at least one of her books, she was going to stop writing.
The first fear is not to make this book have any impact on her schooling schedule and disrupt her life as a child growing up
‘That’s when we started taking it seriously and took her books to people who are in the writing industry and [we] were further inspired to work on publishing [them] because of the positive response we received,” Paul explains.
Waiting for the Waves is the first of a four-part series. Paul explains what we can expect from the rest of the series which is still to be published.
“For the first book, she mostly used her experience from the beach and how she overcame her fear of the waves. The next book from the series, The Little Girl Who Believes in Herself, is about her progressing from her fear of the waves to her gaining confidence in herself as a little girl growing up,” Paul says.
“The third one is called The Little Mouse. It is about finding herself in a world where there are many challenges that she can’t understand. It’s more of a progress of how she sees life from her eyes,” he says.
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Nkamankeng’s mother, Lauretine Nkamankeng, said that her daughter wrote the first two books when she was six years old in 2015, but they could only publish the book this year.
Paul admits that he does have some fears regarding all of the attention that Nkamakeng has been receiving from the book, but he and Laurentine are very excited about what’s happening in their daughter’s life.
“The first fear is not to make this book have any impact on her schooling schedule and disrupt her life as a child growing up. We don’t want that part of her life to change, and that’s our biggest fear with all the attention she’s receiving from the book,” Paul says.
Nkamankeng also plays netball, does ballet, gymnastics, swimming and loves music.