Head shot of Michelle Nkamankeng
Michelle in 2015.

At seven, most children are playing with their friends, their favourite book or toy, and going to school. For a certain few seven year olds, however, they are set to achieve things adults couldn’t even dream of or do in a lifetime. Michelle Nkamankeng was seven years old when she became the youngest African author ever, and on of the top ten young writers globally. But how did it start?

Michelle, like many people, loves to read. She had shown an enthusiasm for literature since starting school at four years old. At five the books she was reading became bigger and bigger. At six she started to develop an interest in writing. On a visit to her local bookstore she noticed that most of the children’s books were written by adults. She thought to herself “why can’t children also explore and share their own experiences with the world”. So armed with her love of books, her interest in writing and some A4 sheets of paper and a pen, she began to write.

Embarking on a secret journey, she began the first book of what will eventually develop into a four part series. Her first book Waiting for the Waves was published on 1st October 2016. The book centred around a little girl who conquers the waves with the support of her family. Shortly after she released the second book in the series, The Girl Who Believes in Herself, where the same little girl believes she has the potential to achieve anything she sets her mind to regardless of gender. Michelle aims to help young girls feel empowered.

“My message is clear, stay encouraged and follow your dreams…”

The final two books in her series are yet to be published but in the meantime she has gone on to continue to achieve great things. She was appointed as one of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund youth advisory board members. Michelle’s short stories also featured in a collection celebrating the 70th year of UNICEF’s work with children.

Michelle is an inspiration and her story shows that no matter how old you are, where you’re from or what you are interested in you can achieve great things as long as you’re passionate enough and believe in yourself.

-Megan Clout

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