Mwamvita Makamba is a Tanzanian, pan-Africanist author. She is a passionate believer in Africa and its immense possibilities.
She says: “Tanzania is home and home is the best place to be. But I have been to other East African countries and enjoyed my stay, for example Kampala, although not so much is said about this city but it is mesmerising. I enjoyed Nairobi, Mombasa, Rwanda too.”
Ms Makamba works in the intersection of technology, development and leadership across Africa in her capacity as project adviser, inspirer and investor.
What inspired this book “Things I tell my daughter”?
I was inspired by how I was brought up and having to raise a daughter in modern day ways. I am keen to instil in her love, sense of character, to be a good human being, one that cares for humanity and seeks to contribute positively towards its wellbeing. What I wrote are the things I tell her in our day-to-day life and I thought, why not put them in a book that she can read and re-read whenever she needs to?
Will this be your last or will you add more books as life goes on?
It doesn’t have to be a book but definitely more writings to come, considering Malaika is only 14.
How different are you raising your daughter from your upbringing?
I am grateful to my parents. Like I said in Things I tell my daughter, my mother was very strict and my father laidback. My mother hated bad manners of all sorts, from eating, how one carried oneself, untidiness, and all that. I am filled with a sense of gratitude for everything my mother stood for. It shaped me to be the parent Malaika has. As a single mother, I am both a cool mum but also very strict.
With the way things have changed nowadays, you really have to listen and talk to your child more. Lucky for me Malaika opens up, so much so that I sometimes I even wonder should I be hearing this? But I listen. And when there is something I want to address I find time and talk to her about it, in a discussion type of way.
What do you advice other parents?
We have a massive role to play in our children’s lives. While writing Things I tell my daughter, I thought why not add to what other parents are doing and telling their children. People have so much content to sift through on the Internet. I bought into the book idea as I am a believer of family unity. Children get to learn more and better at home than elsewhere, for if they don’t, they will get all manner of information from an unforgiving world.
As a parent, learning has to start within the family. As a woman, parent and concerned Tanzanian, I urge fellow parents, let’s not turn blind eye to our children’s formative years.
On page 24 you speak of Malaika being the “author of her life” How free is she in choosing her passion and other endeavours in life?
Very free! I am a living testimony of page 24. Malaika has a singing talent that she started showing since she was like four years old. And I support her fully, taking her to singing classes, to different singing competitions and workshops. So yes, she is the author and I am here to guide her through her life’s passions and all other endeavours. I will ensure she goes to the best universities, support her singing and with that I would have done my job.
And you Malaika, how do you feel about all this?
I feel overwhelmed but then again happy, that this is going to be helpful to other people. My favourite quote is on page 63, “If you are passionate about something — go for it. Pursue it. What is the worst that could happen? If you are successful you win, if you fail you learn. It is still a win!”
I would love to see equality being the norm, for there is so much sexism especially in Africa.
Book of positive messages that parents can pass on to their children
Mwamvita Makamba’s is a superb read for both parents and daughters through her book Things I tell my daughter. With so much content on the Internet, TV, social media, children need something of value to shape their behaviour, keep them motivated and also keep excesses in check.
Things I tell my daughter, published by Mkuki na Nyota and translated into Kiswahili by Dr Ida Hadjivayanis, is a tribute to Malaika, the author’s daughter, and other parents. It carries messages of love and kindness, confidence in oneself, belief in God and well wishes on a daughter’s life.
“I wrote for parents raising daughters as a gift from an inspired mother raising a daughter,” said Miss Makamba.
In turning the pages, I realised I was also told the same things, perhaps in a different words and tone, by my parents when I was younger; the only difference is that they never put it down in a book.
Some of the advice I still use from time to time to keep myself motivated through life’s tides. Although written as a gift to her daughter, the book Things I tell my daughter is for everyone.
Messages such as ‘Be kind to everyone you meet’ or ‘It’s okay to make mistakes — but always learn from your mistakes and never repeat them’ are lessons our elders, friends, relatives, teachers, tell us often. It is without doubt one of those books that never fail to inspire regardless of the time and era.
With so much content to browse through and listen to, parents need to talk to their children about different subjects.
Children get to learn more and better at home than elsewhere, “home is the best place to learn from,” added Miss Makamba.
This article was first published in The EastAfrican newspaper on January 23, 2021.