Country: Zambia

I am more comfortable writing in the voice of a child so for that reason I enjoy and write more for children because then I get to use the voice of a child.  I also like the innocence of the voice of a child in terms of how they view the world. – Ellen Banda-Aaku

wandaWhy We Love Her: Ellen is an acclaimed writer of children’s books, including Wandi’s Little Voice which won the Macmillan Writer’s Prize for Africa.

She has also written short stories, adult fiction and creative non-fiction. Her novel Patchwork, was the winner of the Penguin Prize for African Writing and shortlisted for the 2012 Commonwealth Book Prize.

In the book, we are guided through 1970s and 1980s Zambia, family politics and class strife by 9 year old Pumpkin whose alcoholic mother and richer but absent father threaten to warp her whole existence. Ellen’s background in children’s literature really serves her well here as Pumpkin is realistic, precocious and difficult to love at times as children can be.  Ellen’s work is a shining light in a region where fiction has yet to reach the heights it should.

She has judged numerous prizes such as the 2013 Malawi Peer Gynt National Novel Writing Competition and the 2014 Writivism Short Story Writing Competition for Africa. She is also patron of The Pelican Post, a charity dedicated to distributing appropriate children’s fiction to schools and supporting charities in Africa.


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