The Golden Baobab Prize Search Hero No. 3

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 A very big welcome to Search Hero Zahrah Nesbitt-Ahmed from Nigeria! Zahrah loves to travel, read and do a whole bunch of other things. Read her interview and find out what they are!

 

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I was born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria, in a diverse household with a father from Nasarawa in Northern Nigeria and a mother from England via St.Kitts in the West Indies. I grew up surrounded by shelves filled with books, music constantly playing, delicious Nigerian and Caribbean food and great conversation, which is probably why those are some of my favourite things in the world.

What is your day job and what activities do you enjoy in your leisure time?

For nearly four years I have been a PhD student at the London School of Economics where I research and teach on gender and the urban aspects of international development. When I'm not being an academic-in-training, I blog through bookshy about African literature and book culture. Some of my favourite things in the world to do for fun are to read, draw, create playlists with different songs based on my mood and/or the occasion, take photos of the things in cities people tend to ignore, travel, and have great conversation and laugh over good food with friends and family. One of the things I love doing the most, however, is curling up on the couch (usually with a cup of tea) and watching series. Right now I’m watching Scandal and Arrested Development, and catching up on The Vampire Dairies (I never said it was all great TV).

Let’s take our readers on a trip down memory lane. What did your 8 year-old self want to become in future and were they in any way influenced by the books you read?

I wanted to be a cartoonist. Although I loved reading all types of books as a kid, I absolutely loved comics and my favourite was Asterix. I also loved Archie, but that might have been in secondary school. Others I loved to read when/if they were available were Garfield and Friends, Beano, Dennis the Menace, and Peanuts. These comics greatly influenced my desire to become a cartoonist, especially Asterix. I remember one afternoon being bored after I had read one of my comics (probably for the 100th time) and decided to try and copy one of the characters in them. It might have either been Obelix or Panacea (his love interest). While I never did go to art school, I still harbour the dreams of an 8-year old who wanted to draw the cartoons in the comics she read.

This is the tough one: Who was your favorite storybook character growing up?

This really is a tough question! It’s pretty hard to choose a favourite but I was the hugest fan of Roald Dahl’s novels. I read them all, which is why it’s so hard to pick one. There’s the Big Friendly Giant, The Grandma from “The Witches”, Matilda, the adorable Mr Hoppy in “Esio Trot”, and even Fantastic Mr. Fox. Yet while Roald Dahl had some amazing heroes, he also had some memorable villains. The Grand High Witch from “The Witches” scared me as a kid, and there was Mr. and Mrs. Twit from “The Twits”.

What would be your biggest dream for African children’s literature?

For a child that is 8 years old in 2013 being asked 20 years from now, “Who was their favourite storybook character growing up?” and being able to reply – a famous character in an African novel.

How does it feel to be named a Search Hero for the Golden Baobab Prize?

Very surprised, extremely honoured and ready for the challenge.

What kind of superpowers will you be contributing to enhance the Golden Baobab Prize search for captivating African stories for children?

Probably not the coolest superpower, but resourcefulness, that way I can use everything I am given (hopefully in a creative way) to contribute to the Golden Baobab Prize search.

Where can people connect with you on the world wide web?

Blog: bookshybooks.blogspot.co.uk

Twitter: @bookshybooks

Facebook: bookshy

Tumblr: Africanbookcovers.tumblr.com

 Well Nigeria, there you have it! Look out for Zahrah, Search Hero No. 3 for the Golden Baobab Prize!

 

 

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