Human Interest

A little girl’s dream transformed into an inspirational fairy tale

Johannesburg, May 21 (EFE).- Caster Semenya was 8 years old when she dreamed of being the world’s fastest runner. Today, she is the winner of two Olympic gold medals and three World Championships, and is the fastest runner in South Africa.

Qhawe! Mokgadi Caster Semenya written by Nokuthula Mazibuko Msimang and inspired by Semenya’s story, seeks to encourage children to chase their dreams.

Published by New Africa Books and illustrated by cartoonist Sanelisiwe Singaphi, “Qhawe!,” which means “Hero/Heroine” in Zulu and Xhosa, will hit bookstores in South Africa on May 25.

“My name is Mokgadi Caster Semenya. I am eight years old and I live in Limpopo Province, South Africa. I am the fastest girl in my village,” the opening reads.

The book tells the story of the Olympic champion and her struggles balancing school, training, house chores and her love for sweets.

The idea of the book came from “my impression of her as a hero. I could imagine that even as an eight year old she was already a hero,” Msimang said.

The project came about when, in 2018, the South African author proposed the idea to the athlete’s manager.

“I really do believe that certain people are brought into our lives to make the world a better place. Nelson Mandela came to make the world a better place and when you met him that’s how you felt. So even with Caster Semenya I think she came to teach us courage, respect,” Msimang said after spending two years getting to know Semenya.

The figure of Semenya, almost as well known for her sporting successes as for her struggles to compete as a woman despite her hyperandrogenism, is far from the typical fairy tale protagonist of a “princess in distress.”

“Qhawe!” is not only an African view of universal values, but also a heroic mirror in which girls from all over the world can aspire to.

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