Some of our country’s first bridges were built upon books. Niki Daly grew up in a time when there was a notable absence of multiracial and multilingual stories, which created a literary divide in addition to the unrest caused by apartheid. In 1971, Daly moved to London to pursue a career as a singer and songwriter, but this wasn’t his calling. After returning to South Africa, Daly wrote and published his first book, Not So Fast Songololo in 1985, featuring primarily black characters.It was a milestone in children’s literature.
Daly’s style embodied the perspective of the world from a child’s eyes. With pictures portraying people of colour, he aimed to accurately depict the lives of all South Africans. “Children need to see themselves identified in books,” he says. Daly’s tales kickstarted a revolution, inspiring other authors to speak up and write down their stories. As a result, he laid the foundation for distributing inclusive content.
To this day, Daly still writes, edits, and illustrates. His stories have been published locally and abroad, winning him the Katrine Harries Award for Children’s Book Illustrations in South Africa and the Parent’s Choice Award in the USA. Daly was also shortlisted for the Hans Christian Andersen Award, one of the most prestigious literary awards. His meticulous representation of children of colour has placed a sense of power back in the minds of the youth. When they pick up a book, they can be proud of who they are.