#DecolonizeBookshelves2022 Books Early Readers Genre Lifespan of a Reader Picture Books Reading Themes

[#DecolonizeBookshelves2022] “I Am, Because You Are”

A book about "Ubuntu."

Myra here.

I Am You: A Book About Ubuntu [Amazon | Book Depository]

Written by Refiloe Moahloli Illustrated by Zinelda McDonald Published by Amazon Crossing Kids (2022) ISBN: 154203566X (ISBN13: 9781542035668). Review copy provided by publisher. Book photos taken by me.

The publisher’s note at the start of the book defines ubuntu as:

… a concept of shared humanity, compassion, and oneness. This ancient philosophy is a part of many African cultures, including South Africa, where this book was first published.

Essentially it stands for: “I am, because you are.”

It reminded me of the Filipino value of pakikisama, pakikitungo and pakikiisa – whereby there is this communal sense of togetherness, a shared identity, a one-ness with the other.

It also makes the idea very accessible to young readers without diminishing the power of what one does to others, one does to one’s self as well. The interconnectedness of who we are as human beings, despite our outward differences was likewise highlighted in the narrative.

Moreover, there is an acknowledgment that hurting or ignoring others is tantamount to hurting one’s self as well:

I truly believe that if more people become aware of ubuntu and practice it in their daily lives, how much better and more peaceful our world will be.

#DecolonizeBookshelves2022 Update: 28 out of target 100

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

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