I am back from my trip to South Africa. It was my last big trip in Africa for now and the completion of my wish to taste a bit of different aspects of the continent, Francophone Africa (Togo and Benin), the North (Egypt), the West (Ghana), the East (Tanzania) and then the South. The only thing that I had heard about South Africa growing up is Apartheid, so I was truly amazed at the beauty and charm of the country. It was a fulfilling trip.
Exploring the history of apartheid was, of course, a big part of our agenda in Johannesburg and one stop was the incredibly well laid out Apartheid Museum. It was extremely informative, but one item that captured my attention, or the attention of the author in me was Timeliners, a series of Apartheid comics books that were being distributed for free. There are two in the series so far, and they are about a boy who found a time-travel machine, traveled into various points in the past and experienced first-hand some of the major events in South African apartheid history. The books are well-written and you quickly forget that they are actually trying to teach you some history. My children and I were hooked and my whole trip to South Africa was justified from a writing perspective.
I have been working on an idea for two years now, a particular theme that I would like to discuss with children through books and it finally hit me (sorry, I can be a bit dense at times) that comic books, well-crafted, are the answer. A few days after returning to Ghana, I met an interesting woman lovingly called "Mama Loo" (yes, as in the bathroom), who helped some children design a comic book that clearly shows some key and basic aspects of proper hygiene. I felt as if my fate was sealed.
Writing for a comic book is more like writing a screen play than writing a book. In a way, the artist will be the key, my words - supporting players. I have lots of work and research to do, and it will be years before I can fulfill this new dream but I am excited and ready for the journey.
See you all again on May 27th!