‘Write on indigenous cultures to keep it alive’ - GulfToday

‘Write on indigenous cultures to keep it alive’

Reading-fest

During a workshop at the SCRF 2019, children were asked to think out-of-the-box.

Imran Mojib, Special Correspondent

Writing about one’s culture is essential to keep it alive, opined authors who write for young adults while discussing the importance of writing about indigenous cultures in an age of multiculturism at the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival 2019.

This discussion featured two authors from very diverse cultures and backgrounds, yet they were united in thoughts to highlight cultural identity through books.

Emirati author Mariam Al Zarouni said, “You cannot merge cultural identities. Cultures should be nurtured because they are your identity. Negating your culture will rob you of your cultural identity. We can accept other cultures, learn from them and even borrow from them. But our own culture will remain our unifying factor.”

Discussing her book ‘Letter from Harvard’, she said that even while welcoming other cultures she believed that authors should not shy away from writing about their own culture.

She said, “In fact, as a child I knew a British national who worked in the UAE Army for many years, wore the kandoura and when he retired chose to stay on in UAE because he had integrated so much into our society. He even donated one of his kidneys to an Emirati friend. That was one of the incidents that influenced me hugely and gave me the idea of integrating our culture in my books.”

Ruby Lovell, a British citizen of Sri Lankan descent, said she began writing precisely because she wanted her children to know about the Sri Lankan culture which they only experienced on occasional visits to her home country.

“While shopping for books for them, I found that there was nothing that interested both of us. That started me on my writing career, and I thought of using my books to teach them about the Sri Lankan culture that they found quaint. So, the background for most of my books is the culture I had imbibed as a child. This in no way interferes with the notion of multiculturism. It only makes our culture richer.”

Lovell opined that writing about one’s culture was as important as writing an interesting story, because that was the only way of keeping it alive for immigrant generations. “But yes, writers need to write about other cultures too,” she concluded.

Visual literacy

Imparting visual literacy through workshop at the SCRF 2019, Australian artist Cindy Lane asked children to think out-of-the-box. Lane, from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCWBI), first initiating participants to take basic steps of drawing, colouring, cutting and pasting, and thereafter, almost forcing them to forget the rules of painting to think unconventionally.

Pushing for visual literacy while departing from the non-traditional ways, her idea was to raise awareness towards natural pigments.

“I want to teach them the basics of fluid dynamics. Artists often through experimentation learn the properties and mechanisms of different materials like wood or water and its impact on gravity. We focus on ‘accidental painting’ in which layers of paint are poured on top of one another on a flat surface. If they are of different densities, they will mix and spread in unique and beautiful ways. These happy accidents will lead to the creation of non-perfect art, breaking conventions,” she said.

Staying with this thought Cindy, coloured the center of her flower blue while popular demand wanted it to be yellow. A departure from set patterns, challenging norms and jogging creativity these children take guided steps towards an amalgamation of the arts and sciences which seem like the branches of the same tree. This workshop was thus geared towards exploring the fluid properties of paint and media combined with a celebration of the beautiful, fragile and subtle forms that emerge from swirling patterns.

Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival is a cultural celebration attracting not only children, but extending the joy of learning to parents and adults in a family- friendly atmosphere. SCRF encourages learning and self-education from a young age, helping raise a generation of leaders, scholars and professionals who will contribute to the development of their society. Last year has seen the festival succeed at attracting more than 306,000 visitors and hosting 134 exhibitors specialized in children’s literature as well as entertaining visitors with 2600 educational and fun-filled activities.



Imran Mojib, Special Correspondent


Writing about one’s culture is essential to keep it alive, opined authors who write for young adults while discussing the importance of writing about indigenous cultures in an age of multiculturism at the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival 2019.

This discussion featured two authors from very diverse cultures and backgrounds, yet they were united in thoughts to highlight cultural identity through books.

Emirati author Mariam Al Zarouni said, “You cannot merge cultural identities. Cultures should be nurtured because they are your identity. Negating your culture will rob you of your cultural identity. We can accept other cultures, learn from them and even borrow from them. But our own culture will remain our unifying factor.”

Discussing her book ‘Letter from Harvard’, she said that even while welcoming other cultures she believed that authors should not shy away from writing about their own culture.

She said, “In fact, as a child I knew a British national who worked in the UAE Army for many years, wore the kandoura and when he retired chose to stay on in UAE because he had integrated so much into our society. He even donated one of his kidneys to an Emirati friend. That was one of the incidents that influenced me hugely and gave me the idea of integrating our culture in my books.”

Ruby Lovell, a British citizen of Sri Lankan descent, said she began writing precisely because she wanted her children to know about the Sri Lankan culture which they only experienced on occasional visits to her home country.

“While shopping for books for them, I found that there was nothing that interested both of us. That started me on my writing career, and I thought of using my books to teach them about the Sri Lankan culture that they found quaint. So, the background for most of my books is the culture I had imbibed as a child. This in no way interferes with the notion of multiculturism. It only makes our culture richer.”

Lovell opined that writing about one’s culture was as important as writing an interesting story, because that was the only way of keeping it alive for immigrant generations. “But yes, writers need to write about other cultures too,” she concluded.

Visual literacy

Imparting visual literacy through workshop at the SCRF 2019, Australian artist Cindy Lane asked children to think out-of-the-box. Lane, from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCWBI), first initiating participants to take basic steps of drawing, colouring, cutting and pasting, and thereafter, almost forcing them to forget the rules of painting to think unconventionally.

Pushing for visual literacy while departing from the non-traditional ways, her idea was to raise awareness towards natural pigments.

“I want to teach them the basics of fluid dynamics. Artists often through experimentation learn the properties and mechanisms of different materials like wood or water and its impact on gravity. We focus on ‘accidental painting’ in which layers of paint are poured on top of one another on a flat surface. If they are of different densities, they will mix and spread in unique and beautiful ways. These happy accidents will lead to the creation of non-perfect art, breaking conventions,” she said.

Staying with this thought Cindy, coloured the center of her flower blue while popular demand wanted it to be yellow. A departure from set patterns, challenging norms and jogging creativity these children take guided steps towards an amalgamation of the arts and sciences which seem like the branches of the same tree. This workshop was thus geared towards exploring the fluid properties of paint and media combined with a celebration of the beautiful, fragile and subtle forms that emerge from swirling patterns.

Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival is a cultural celebration attracting not only children, but extending the joy of learning to parents and adults in a family- friendly atmosphere. SCRF encourages learning and self-education from a young age, helping raise a generation of leaders, scholars and professionals who will contribute to the development of their society. Last year has seen the festival succeed at attracting more than 306,000 visitors and hosting 134 exhibitors specialized in children’s literature as well as entertaining visitors with 2600 educational and fun-filled activities.