UN SDG Book Club Africa Interview Series: Mwanawetu Mmuni
30 June 2022
Mwanawetu's book 'Ken Na Kandi' is included in the Kiswahili Reading List for SDG 4: Quality Education
Mwanawetu Mmuni is a Tanzanian author. Her books include Usimwacheatoke, Nifikirie, Nadhariayamaishayamtinamtu, and others. Kilimochetu, Kiburichaponzakichwa, Ukutiukuti, Safari yaMikumi, Hadithizakarneya 21, Ken naKandi, Jifikirie, Jumannekatikamsituwamaajabu, Unamjuahuyu? Come with me, Umebadilika. She writes in various genres including adventure, historical books, romances, African culture, children's literature, bio-books, biography and economics, philosophical magazines in kiswahili. Her books are published as textbooks, audiobooks, and e-books.
A wife and the mother of two boys, she has been a secondary school teacher for over ten years. A proud owner of Swahili books and magazine digital library, Mwanawetu enjoys writing, reading, cricket and tennis. She is a keen vegetable gardener.
Since children pass through many challenges, children’s literature provides opportunities to respond to their challenges. I leverage their knowledge of their own culture and other cultures and I leverage the creativity and emotional intelligence of children when I sit down to write. I also engage with the personalities of children and with social development issues and with family histories across generations.
Talk to us about your book in the context of the relevant Sustainable Development Goals. How does it address SDG concerns?
Ken Na Kandi addresses the concerns of SDG 4 – Inclusive, Equitable and Quality Education. The story has 2 main characters – 2 children - who go through a hard time at school.
Tell us about the research process for you book.
Researching my book was not difficult. Along the coast of the Indian Ocean, multitudes face the challenges of poverty, religious isolation, disability, early marriage and pregnancy, gender-driven violence, cultural discrimination and attitudes against women’s status and lack rural development. The impacts of those challenges are: outmoded cultural practices, ignorance, legal restrictions, family costs, opportunity costs, socio-cultural barriers, early marriages, gender biases in the classroom setting, inaccessibility of schools, cultural perceptions of boy’s superior abilities and poor performance of girls in education.
What in your opinion are the essentials of good writing?
Focus, accuracy, assurance and coherence. Also writing should be educative and it should aim for socio-cultural development.
If you could meet any one of your characters from Ken Na Kandi, which would it be?
I would be very grateful to meet my characters! Dalila, Ken’s teacher, I think. I would advise her that the school is responsible for keeping children safe from harm and abuse. The school should create a safe learning environment and should identify pupils who are suffering or who are at risk of injury and the school should take suitable action.
Finally, what words of wisdom do you have for today’s children growing up in our social media and screen dominated world?
I would warn them about the negative influence social media can have on teenage behaviour and attitudes in certain areas including body image, their health and in matters of citizenship.