The Aardvark to Zebra of wildlife
Durban - Promoting South Africa’s rich wildlife heritage, Professor David McQuoid-Mason and artist Goodman Ndlovu, of Inanda, have teamed up to produce a new book, I am an Aardvark, I am a Zebra: A Young Person’s A-Z of Wild Animal Lives.
The book is being produced in partnership with Phansi Museum in Durban and aims to educate children and adults, as well as foreign visitors.
This week, McQuoid-Mason said visiting game parks over the last 60 years had sparked the idea for the book, which is in production and scheduled to be released later this year.
“I have been fascinated by game parks and wild animals since my early days in the 1950s when our family frequently visited game reserves. Our game parks in Africa in general, and Southern and East Africa in particular, are unique and easily accessible, but I have also enjoyed visiting the Amazon and Indian game parks.
“Many of the excellent South African field guides tend to be somewhat technical, especially for young readers, so I thought I would personalise it by getting the animals to talk to young readers, and adults for that matter, about their lives,” he said.
The book is written in simple English and each animal is described in the first person. It details the animal’s life from when it is inside the mother to how it will live as an adult. All the animals are warm-blooded except for the crocodile. McQuoid-Mason said using the first person as a means of expression from inside the mother allowed for each animal to be presented in a non-sexist manner. Wherever possible the animals’ names in five other main languages spoken in South Africa are also included. Some animals do not have a name in each language because they do not occur in the region where the language is spoken.
“It took me about two years to research and write the book,” said McQuoid-Mason, who has a very busy work schedule, including frequent international travel.
Last month saw McQuoid-Mason being honoured by the University of KwaZulu-Natal for achieving an exceptional teaching milestone of 50 years in academia at the university, where he is a law professor and senior research associate at the Centre for Socio-Studies. He is also president of the Commonwealth Legal Education Association which represents 3 000 law schools.
Apart from publishing more than 150 articles, he has written two books, co-authored 20 books and manuals, contributed more than 70 chapters to books and delivered more than 300 papers at national and international conferences on access to justice, street law, human rights, legal aid and medical law.
The release of the book forms part of his 50th anniversary.
“I thoroughly enjoyed writing it because I love telling stories, particularly to children and young people. I am a born teacher and am afraid that as I get older I become even more of a storyteller for anyone interested in listening.”
A list of 140 questions has been prepared at the end of the book for parents, teachers and friends to share.
McQuoid-Mason, who has worked with artist Goodman Ndlovu on several projects including portraits, visited Tala Game Reserve in 2016 with Ndlovu so the artist could get a first-hand look at the wildlife he would be drawing. He completed 70 drawings in coloured pencil for the book.
Ndlovu, whose work has been included in various exhibitions, said he had especially enjoyed seeing a giraffe for the first time.
“I draw from photographs and from a young age have drawn portraits. This project was also the first time that I was doing animal illustrations. I started sketches in 2016. I enjoy drawing late at night as it’s quiet and no one disturbs me,” said Ndlovu. He likes giraffe, but says “I give all my pictures the same love”.
Working as a full-time artist, Ndlovu said although lockdown had been a difficult time for artists, he had been busy working on the book.
Phansi Museum managing trustee Paul Mikula said: “Phansi Publishing, a department of the Phansi uBuntu Art Museum, is proud to have been chosen to publish this lovely book. From our experience at the museum we know that knowledge brings respect. With respect we can build a better world.”
The Independent on Saturday