On 7 November, Jamela, the lovable young heroine created by Kleinmond’s well-known children’s author/illustrator, Niki Daly, was honoured with this year’s prestigious South African Literary Award (SALA) for Children’s Literature.
Over the 15 years of its existence, some of the other literary luminaries who have won SALA awards in one of its 15 categories have been Nadine Gordimer, Prof Mongane Wally Serote, Zakes Mda, Njabula Ndebele and Chris van Wyk. In Niki’s case, the recognition was for It’s Jamela!, a complete collection, comprising all five of the Jamela stories.
In its commendation, SALA states: “There are few books with characters that speak to the Black child. Psychologists have found that in early childhood development children holistically developed better when they saw people who looked like them every day. They need to see these people in three spheres of their lives; in their education, entertainment and daily environment. It’s Jamela! is a book that ticks all those boxes as it is a push back against the racist patriarchal narrative of men and boy heroes. The story of Jamela and her relationships with others is a useful development from what society is used to… It’s a positive story that should resonate with every child.”
Halala, Jamela! Long live, Long live!