During the Miss Jamaica Festival Queen 2019 contest, Khamara Wright was asked the question: do you think patois should be taught in schools? Not only did she passionately agree with this point of view and won the competition, she also took matters into her own hands by writing her first children’s book in the local language.
“Once we embed cultural pride in our children, we can make sure they appreciate their role in being part of the Jamaica brand. When I won the crown I knew I wanted to make my answer tangible in some way and available for generations to come, ”she said. The Sunday Gleaner.
Patois project with Nina is a fun and interactive children’s book that addresses the subject, perception and acceptance of patois as a language. “The story follows a young girl named Nina, who immigrated to North America and was teased about the way she spoke. She decided she could make a change, and she was the best candidate to do so.” , explained the author.
Perfect for ages 6 to 12 and up, the book is written in a mixture of patois and standard English. With the patois, Wright captures the natural emotions and expressions of the characters.
The book also teaches valuable lessons. Besides the obvious theme of acceptance, it promotes friendship and shares Jamaica’s heritage. “My goal is to educate children about the history and uniqueness of how we Jamaicans speak, emphasizing that they too are part of the Jamaica brand. Equally important is the message of choosing to respond in a positive and passionate manner in order to resolve difficult situations, ”said Wright.
Wright also aspires to bridge the gap for children who may feel displaced within the diaspora and in doing so “enable them to feel included and keep them close to their Jamaican heritage.”
Since the writing journey began in 2020, shortly after the onset of the global pandemic, it has been a winding and rocky journey on this road to fatherhood. Admitting to having thrown in the towel at least three times, the mission to conquer uncharted territory sometimes became too much for Wright to take on. Frustrated by the daunting process, she nonetheless made the necessary sacrifices and continued to deliver a finished product that best represented her and the brand she was trying to build.
The difficult but fulfilling journey reached new heights when she decided to go the path of self-publishing, a path that turned out to be both a struggle and a blessing. “The self-publishing journey turned me upside down. Everything was new: the terms, the measurements, the paper density, the applications, and more. The process rekindled my respect for full-time authors and publishers. It was a lot of work, and I did a lot of reading to understand this new environment I entered. Although tedious, the biggest personal lesson I learned was to never stop trying to new, “she pointed out. Now she can proudly say with the biggest smiles that she is a self-published author.
Making the dream a printed reality also required funding, so Wright saved diligently to achieve this goal. “I hope this book encourages everyone who is about to start something new to take the plunge,” she said.
Patois project with Nina is available on Amazon as an eBook and in print. For more information, connect with the author on Instagram: @ african.pride__