Get tea tycoon Swaady Martin's new kids book
Iconic Liberian-born businesswoman Swaady Martin is most famous for her luxury tea brand Yswara. Now she’s delving into children’s books with the beautiful, charming Malaika and the Angel, writes Anna Trapido.
besties Malaika (left) travels around with her guardian angel, a zebra named Rafiki. Author Swaady Martin (right)

After a year of hustling and bustling, you and your children deserve some long, lazy holiday afternoons of reading under a shady tree. Sounds great doesn’t it? Studies show that when parents read to their children, there are benefits to behaviour and academic performance. Confucius said: “You cannot open a book without learning something.”

But... How many of us are actually planning to read to our kids this holiday season? How often did we do it this year? This is the internet age. Can we or our children concentrate on offline activities? We will never know unless we try. We need something stimulating, insightful and beautiful to bring us back to books. Which is where author Swaady Martin and her new, self-published book series Malaika and the Angel come in.

Born in the Ivory Coast and raised in Liberia, Joburg-based Swaady is best known for her elegant, delicious tea brand, Yswara. Tea and stories go together and her heroine, Malaika, will tempt even the most ardent internet addicts. Malaika is mystical and real, funny and fallible. She is inquisitive and open to the philosophy and spirituality of life, but is also a fan of dressing up and dancing with zebras.

Swaady says that her target audience is “children of all ages and those of us who are still children inside”. Her book is accessible to anyone who has ever wondered about life and what it means. Readers travel with Malaika and her guardian angel (a zebra named Rafiki) to learn a life skill.

In the first book Malaika absorbs intuition by way of a world in which the spiritual and material realms overlap and adventures ensue. Ancestors appear. There is a mystery on a glimmering staircase, where crystal boxes reveal secrets and wisdom. Rafiki reveals to Malaika that guardian angels can be anything, anywhere. Today Rafiki is a zebra, but tomorrow who knows where the spirit will land – because Rafiki likes to change outfits almost as much as Malaika does.

Book lovers are left longing for more and wondering: Is Rafiki real, or are we travelling through the land where the best guardian angels are to be found? Deep within our minds...

Maria Baumann’s exquisite watercolour illustrations enhance the ethereal and exciting quality of the text.

The best kids’ books are loaded with wisdom that carry you and yours into the year ahead. If Malaika and the Angel don’t get us all off the iPads and into a book, nothing will.

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