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African author pens children’s book about diversity in skin tones

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I Celebrate My Skin
Born in the Kingdom of Eswatini, formerly known as Swaziland, author Nonkul- uleko Kunene Adumentey was inspired by her father to appreciate the various skin tones found in Africans throughout the world.(Above) Nonkululeko Kunene Adumentey (left) and Jennifer Maddox, founder and executive director of Future Ties Community Center holding the book, “I Celebrate My Skin” at Future Ties Community Center in Southside Chicago, Illinois. Courtesy Photo

Nonkululeko Kunene Adumentey was born in the Kingdom of Eswatini, a landlocked African nation that the world once knew as Swaziland. A wife and mother of two young children, Adumentey calls her late father, Themba Micah Kunene, her hero. He inspired Adumentey’s passion for children and her will to celebrate children for their strength, voices, and diversity.

“My father was a man of humble beginnings who worked hard to provide for eight children,” said Adumentey, adding that it was his conditional love, wisdom and work ethic that inspired the core of her principles and life mottos. He also inspired her to appreciate the various skin tones found in Africans throughout the world.

That inspiration has led to Adumentey’s new children’s book, “I Celebrate My Skin,” a 38-page hardcover book that teaches young ones about the beauty of different skin colors. It also teaches children why diversity matters.

“We must teach young people to have a true appreciation for themselves and their skin color,” Adumentey demanded. “People of color are introduced to negative images of men and women of color, which affects how they perceive themselves.”

Adumentey, whose name means “Freedom,” left Africa for Canada at the age of 16. She eventually migrated to the United States, where she earned a master’s degree in Public Health at St. Louis University. After moving to Chicago, Adumentey earned a second master’s degree in Geographic Information Systems at Chicago State University.

She said she had witnessed much growing up, including how the lack of diversity and understanding of race has harmed children.

“So, my book is about celebrating kids and embracing who they are,” Adumentey said. “I wanted to inspire children from my village that they can do so much more. We have to love each other and embrace who we are.”

Known by her friends and loved ones as Nonku, Adumentey says she is guided by one of her father’s favorite mottos: “umtsentse uhlaba usamila,” which counts as a saying about a strong grass that gets deeply rooted during its early stages of development.

“The essence of this saying embodies the core of early intervention and teaching young minds early so that they grow up strong and informed about the world,” she said. “That’s why I wrote the book. To inspire young ones toward a greater future.”

The book provides positive images, as well as anecdotes about the various skin tones found throughout the diaspora; and teaches lessons on the importance of diversity. One critic at amazon.com notes that the book is “a beautiful representation of all of the different skin colors in the world. It teaches kids that no matter what color your skin is, we are all the same.”

Another noted that the book “offers a simple but powerful message about the beauty of diversity. The text flows naturally, and the vibrant, charming illustrations engage little ones and adults alike. This would be an excellent addition to any children’s library.”

Adumentey says, “I Celebrate My  Skin” is the first in a trilogy of books that she is writing to encourage children and others about the importance of diversity.

“I grew up in a very small village, and I faced a lot of childhood trauma, some sexual abuse, and other things,” said Adumentey recalling that life was not easy growing up. “I could not celebrate who I was. I always felt like I was not fully myself but I covered everything up— and I was always ‘okay.’

“When I was 16, I left home alone to go finish high school in Canada. From that point, I traveled to the United States, got a scholarship and now I’m a mom of two, and life is different. I rediscovered myself, and I realized that my voice matters. I want my children to get this message at an early age, and that’s where my book came into the mix.”

“I Celebrate My Skin” is available for sale at: www.amazon.com/Celebrate‐Skin‐Nonku‐Kunene‐Adumetey/dp/1735738212.

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