I have a child who asks a lot of questions. A lot of them are meaningful or purposeful. Only recently my husband and I were asked how monks get monk babies. A question that packs the punch of a great deal of information, right? And no, this is not the start of a story about my child, it sets up the context to mine.
I was born the last of four children in Nairobi, to a Kenyan father and a Ugandan mother. I moved to Cape Town, South Africa when I was 28 years old to pursue postgraduate studies in Astrophysics, which I continue to teach. It is in Cape Town that I met my husband who is from India, and we have since made a home in Durban with our child.
Now, take this glimpse of a description of my family background and dynamics and circle back to the start of this story, to my curious and inquisitive child. If it's not race, its skin colour, religion, ethnic grouping, gender, nationality, or something else.
Every single question that has come my way has challenged me to continuously unlearn, learn and relearn the lens through which I view, relate and experience my life, and that of my child. My child’s story is different from mine in so many ways, yet our stories merge in our relationship and experiences together, and in the knowledge that I once was a child. It’s also a story that is representative of many. It is the reason why I have intentionally made it part of my story to advocate that our differences lift our world, and are the essence of what makes humanity whole.
Then came that conversation with my wonderful friend Leigh before attending an open day for a potential school for our children, while having what has become our proverbial cup of coffee. A conversation that we are now narrating as The book haven, to use books to create experiences in which children see, find themselves and show up authentically. It’s our combined story, Leigh, Kendi and I, and we are inviting your shared experiences to narrate it with.