Are you a writer with dreams of publishing a book or books? How far have you pursued your dreams? Stacey Fru, an 12 year old Cameroonian writer has 5 books published and is the youngest Author in Africa, who wrote her first book; ‘Smelly Cats’ without her parents’ knowledge at the age of 7. Muna Kalati take you to meet with her and her works and find out what inspires her.
Many parents want their kids to develop a life lasting culture of reading and writing. But from the desire to the reality, there is a huge gaps. For many are not creating that enabling environment for reading at home. Most are recommending their kids to read, explaining how books are important and bla bla bla. Those who do some extra efforts may buy them the required academic books, expecting the school teacher to use it to develop the interest and culture of reading in their kids. But most of these parents are forgetting that kids aren’t doing what we tell them to do, but what they see us doing. Hence, the need for parents to develop a reading and writing culture with their kids, through different activities that would enable these kids to not only hear that books are useful but to understand directly that from their practice and experience.
The story we are about to share today is from Stacey Fru, a Cameroonian and Johannesburg based Bestselling Multiple International Award-Winning Child Author of Chapter Books, Activist, Philanthropist, Public Speaker. I met her and her mother Victorine Shu at the World Youth Forum in March 2019, where her daughter received another Award from the Egyptian president El Sisi.
Even though Stacey Fru is now an internationally acclaimed child author, she has always acknowledged the role of her mother Victorine Shu in nurturing her interest for reading and writing, which has led to the writing of her first book “Smelly Cats”. This book originated from a positive frustration with her mother who had written a book without telling her and her siblings. When she discovered this, she felt jealous and this prompted her to do the same. Her mother, Victorine Mbong Shu, only discovered that she had written a book after she already completed it, and so she edited it and took it to be illustrated. Since then, young Stacey has kept her pen and paper close and written more books. Some have not yet been published.
Beyond just encouraging her daughter to read, Victorine also created the enabling environment at home, limiting the potential distractors that could have hinders her daughter time and interest for reading: “When I was young, our parents used to influence us to read and write and that inspired me to also write,” she said. She added that the fact that they didn’t have a television also helped her to focus on her writing.
“Stacey is a sneaky writer. Usually, she loves being on technology, which could be an iPad or a computer, because we don’t have television. She also loves being in the kitchen, cooking. She loves exploring and she experiments a lot.” Said her mother Victorine Shu.
To keep the siblings connected, Shu and her husband tried to have all three of them involved in everyday life activities as well as events related to her writing. Stacey Shu’s mother added that her daughter was also writing other books with the assistance of her younger sister. Fru said other children at her school and community had a lot of respect for her since she published her first book. It drove her to achieve even greater things.
The story behind the title of her first book “Smelly Cats”.
When asked why she titled her first book Smelly Cats, the young author said the idea was to grab children’s attention and make sure they were intrigued enough to read it. “The word smelly is more interesting for children and cats are energetic animals and that inspired the title,” she said.
This book was approved by the South African Department of Basic Education as suitable for young learners from Early Childhood through to Primary Schools. Stacey won 3 awards for this book and her other works before her 2nd book ‘Bob and the Snake’ was published. She will be adding two more books – Where is Tammy and Tim’s Answer – to her bookshelf.
“The next book is titled Where is Tammy and it’s about the whole aspect of the kidnapping of children in South Africa. The book is to raise awareness for parents and children who are in the situation,” Fru told News24.
Stacey as a Philanthropist
“If we sell three books, the sale of one book goes to the foundation. What we want to do now is that for every three books sold, one book will go into the donation box,” she said.
As a giver, Stacey seeks and donates items like books, computers, clothing and food through her foundation to children and adults. Her mother said the foundation received the books they donated from various African authors, publishers and supporters. “She wants to only donate African books or books about Africa, and so we ask authors and publishers to donate books and we give them out,” the children author said.
Stacey also runs free workshops for children. She appears in Libraries, graduation ceremonies, festivals, book clubs, classrooms, workshops, fairs, international conferences, boardrooms, programmes, services and product launches, media, etc. Her major concern for children is evident in her writings and her talks themed; Literacy, Selflessness, Poverty/Inequality, Religion, Jealousy, Ignorance, Safety and Security, Respect, kindness, Honesty, Love, Health, Family and Friendship, Abuse, Role Models, Trafficking, Kidnapping, etc.
Stacey is the voice of the voiceless. When asked what she had to say to other children who aspired to write books and do great things, she said: “I would say: ‘Don’t let anyone tell you the sky is the limit when there are footprints on the moon.'” Shu describes her daughter as a playful child, who often finds time and sneaks out to go and write.
When she becomes old, she would like to be an academic and hopes to obtain a PhD. “I want to get my PhD. I am not sure in what yet, but I want to become an academic doctor. I want to travel around the world and share my knowledge and experiences with other people.”
Stacey’s ambitions for the growth of the African child is extensive. She is the youngest Ambassador for Save the Children. Stacey is focused on teaching, motivating and encouraging others through public talks, writings, and her television projects because she is very disappointed that many children cannot read and write by age 9. Her focus is Child Abduction/Kidnapping, Child Trafficking, Safety and Security, Role Modelling.