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Rising wordsmith

Tell us about yourself

I am Natalie Wambui, 10 years old, and we live in Ngong, Kajiado County. I am in Class Four at Naramat Academy in Matasia area.

When did you realise you could write?

I discovered I could write when I was five years old. I was born with a heart problem, and when I was in hospital, the doctors there taught me how to journal my everyday experiences, and that is how I started writing. I would write my daily thoughts, hopes and prayers, and I’ve not stopped since then. I later began to narrate what I wrote, and discovered I could become a poet.

When did you publish your first book?

In February 2016 when I was eight years old. My mother helped publish Natalie’s Poems. It has inspirational poetry meant to guide and answer simple questions about life. The support I received from Kenyans was amazing, and towards the end of 2016, I published my second book titled Kenya: My Country, My Story.

It talks about the positive things that have happened in Kenya, and also a few things that we can improve as a country. Both books are doing well in local bookshops and also on Amazon.com. Currently, I am working on my third book, which I hope to release a year from now.

How do you balance school and writing?

My mum always reminds me that there is a time for everything, and I try my best to manage my time well, hence be able to strike the balance. On weekdays, I concentrate more on academics, but on weekends, my talent takes over.

What are some of the challenges you have encountered so far?

One of them is encouraging a reading culture among children. With modern technology, children prefer playing with phones and tablets, watching TV and other similar activities, and it’s not easy to convince them to buy books and read them.

What about your highlights?

I had the rare opportunity of meeting the president, and got a special invitation to Statehouse by the First Lady. They both loved my books and encouraged me to keep working on my talent. Also, I have bagged two awards; one is from Read Africa Global for Best Creative Story, and the other from American Friends Service Committee for using my writing talent to promote peace during the election period.

What are some of the books you love reading and which authors do you look up to?

I enjoy reading inspirational books as well as African literature. Ngugi Wa Thiong’o is one of the authors I admire. I’m currently reading his books, and hope to follow in his footsteps and contribute to global literature.

What would you tell other children who love reading or writing?

If you love reading and writing, keep at it and work hard. Also, never shy from exploring your talent if you feel you have a gift. The earlier, the better.

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