Empress Zingha pens a Bajan fairy tale
-by Daveny Ellis
Barbadian Creative Empress Zingha wears a lot of hats as an artist, playwright, director, blogger, a fairy princess, wife, and even Black superhero.
Empress Zingha is a contemporary Caribbean artist and Cultural Practitioner with a BFA in Fine Arts (Hons) from The University of The West Indies Cave Hill Campus as well as a Masters in Arts Entrepreneurship. With work that has been seen in the United States, Finland, Trinidad and Tobago, and Canada and performing with some of the more prominent people in the arts scene, she has also represented Barbados for Carifesta XIII.
Currently running her digital arts magazine, Gine On Magazine alongside her husband DJ Simmons, they work tirelessly to promote the arts scene in the country as art entrepreneurs who believe in the power of the craft.
Now she has decided to publish a new book called Melissa Sunflower.
Melissa Sunflower is Illustrated by Heshimu Akin-Yemi and is a Caribbean Fairy Tale story based in Fairy Valley in Christ Church. The main character Melissa Sunflower is a fairy with no wings and gets teased by her advisories, "Sweet Cherry" and "Whatcha MuhCallit". One day, a big challenge arrives throughout the land and Melissa finds the most potent magic of all.
Loop News Barbados: What was your inspiration for writing this book?
Empress Zingha: I created Melissa Sunflower because I wanted to see more representation for not only black girls, but Caribbean children's books as well. Actually, I found out that black stories by black authors only make up about 2% of overall publishing globally. I figured, if I could just do my part, maybe it would inspire more writers. Also, I dedicated my book to Kamau Brathwaite, who is my favorite author. In his book, "History of the Voice" when I did my Masters and how important Nation Language and cultural identity was to one's existence. I sent him the story for his birthday and he really loves it. Maybe one day I'll get to meet him face to face.
LB: Who is this book for?
EZ: Well, officially 6-10 years but I've been getting adult buyers who really enjoy the book and bought it because they finally saw themselves in the book. A few ladies from St. Lucia are reading it and remarked that they can't wait to buy it.
LB: What were your biggest challenges in writing it?
EZ: I think to be vulnerable and sharing a piece of my own story relating to bullying with everyone. There are so many elements of myself within this book! Also, trying to clearly merge the mainstream fairy aesthetic and blending it with Bajan and Caribbean characteristics.
LB: What do you want people to take away most from what you wrote here?
EZ: To always believe in your magic. That all miracles start and end with love and are most potent and powerful when you believe in it and yourself.
LB: What is next?
EZ: This is only the first book on the Melissa Sunflower series. I already have several other stories penned building about other characters in the universe. D