Former CCN journo lands top book prize

Tanga Masinqule from Beyond Isigela.

Vennessa Scholtz, of Plattekloof, has long dreamed of writing a book. Well, now she has… and she’s won a prestigious award to go with it.

Scholtz, who reported for Northern News when the paper was still called Tygertalk, won the coveted Golden Baobab Prize for Picture Books for her work, Kita and the Red Dusty Road.

Scholtz, 46, who is now a media liaison for the City of Cape Town, said: “It’s something I always wanted to do but never had the time. I happened to come across the competition in April online and thought let me use this as motivation to get started. With this particular story, I was just playing around with words.”

The book is about a little girl who is walking home and is supposed to be on the side of the road but, like most children, doesn’t listen.

“She is walking on a ‘grondpad’ and kicking up dust and having loads of fun, but eventually runs into a spot of trouble and manages to get out of it. I picture her as having dark curly hair; about five or six years old; barefoot and wearing a dress,” she said.

She praised the role community newspapers play in communities. “It’s the news people want to read about because it’s about the people and the issues affecting them,” she said.

“I don’t think you get closer to the people than when you are a community newspaper journalist. You realise we are all the same, despite where you live and what you do.

“I like this particular competition because its emphasis is on getting children to read and relaying African stories to African children. The book encourages children to read so that they can be educated, dream bigger and realise there is a bigger world out there.”

She credits her success to her family and aid Timothy had acted as a sounding board while she was completing the book.

Co-founder and executive director of the Golden Baobab Deborah Ahenkorah said the judges were very impressed with the story as it was full of creativity and playfulness.

The winner of each Golden Baobab Prize receives R70 000 and a guaranteed publishing contract.