By Grant Moyo
Raincemba Publishing Professionals founder and managing editor Patience Ziramba saw the need to register and launch a publishing house after realising that storybooks are not easily available locally.
She says the available few are often imported and priced steeply, and none are written focusing on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) thematic areas. As a, sustainable development, cross-cutting, recreational and educative children’s books publisher, becoming a reliable source of story books is her sole obligation.
Born in Chivi, Masvingo province, Ziramba grew up in Kwekwe before moving to Bulawayo at the age of 13. She was introduced to the reading culture at a tender age, familiarising with newspapers, novels and textbooks. With no television and friends, she spent most of her time writing, solving crossword puzzles and playing chess. As early as Grade 5, she had an auto book which contained collections of stories and poetry.
Before Ziramba obtained a first-class Bachelor of Science Degree in Publishing from the National University of Science and Technology (NUST), she worked as a publishing coordinator at Southern Africa Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC) while on attachment. She was hired back before her results were out and actively coordinated the publishing of various books and newsletters. In 2019 she established Raincemba Publishing Professionals, a women-led, indigenous, children’s books publishing house which offers early learning storybooks that focus on SDGs thematic areas, in order to transform the reading culture, while educating both children and parents.
“I began my publishing career at SARDC in my third year at university. I assumed the role of publishing coordinator after my immediate supervisor quit and the boss was impressed by my performance. After completing my publishing studies at NUST, I worked at the institution until 2013. I then moved to Priority Projects Publishing where I was the editor and publishing manager,” Ziramba said.
“I took a break from formal employment in 2016, although I had a few freelance jobs lined up and resumed in 2018 when I worked for Nzira Travel Magazine and the Book of African Records In 2019, I decided to concentrate on my freelance jobs and eventually made the bold decision to register and launch Raincemba Publishing Professionals.”
In order to help raise an empowered generation of children that will spearhead the creation of sustainable living spaces, Ziramba said at Raincemba Publishing they create and make available exciting indigenous stories and untold global issues-themed storybooks. The publishing house also creates and owns all intellectual property rights to the children’s books content. The children’s books that have been published under the publisher’s Paivepo series brand include Hello Gogo, Tammy Loves To Bake, Sabe’s Creation and Tana Goes To School.
“We are demystifying the myth that there are complicated issues for children, by unpacking and creatively infusing global thematic topics with storytelling, in order to appeal to our 0 to 5-year-old targeted children. We seek to increase awareness on issues such as women empowerment, innovation, entrepreneurship, intellectual property, environment and sustainable cities as we entertain and elevate Zimbabwean children,” Ziramba said.
“Storytelling as a concept has evolved over the past decades. First came the first revolution of stories, which was mainly social around fires, the second revolution came in with song and dance as motivation and a source of hope, and the third revolution sought to teach English, improve grammar and spelling. Raincemba introduces creative contemporary stories that educate, prepare and mentor children for the future.”
As an independent publisher, the publishing house helps various authors, but mainly coaches to create and project their content, either as printed or electronic books. Known as the publishing coach for its consultancy services, Raincemba Publishing is divided into two facets, namely the children’s books projects and publishing consultancy. Seeking to transform the preservation, structuring and consumption of information in Southern Africa, the publishing house promotes access to relevant, quality and informative reading materials and publishing services to everyone.
Frank about raising prudent and knowledgeable children for sustainable cities, Ziramba said the publishing industry in Africa is largely dominated by educational publishing, mainly textbooks for the school market. She, however, proclaimed that there is a huge shift towards self-help books in the adult market as she has raised a reading generation through her publishing house.
“Fiction and non-fiction African writing is coming into play, with independent and local publishers publishing stories that are yet to be told. The subjects which we publish are broad and are local literature for both the adult and children’s markets. Talk of women’s writing, memoirs, current affairs, romance, art, heritage, you name it. For our children, we have motivational and inspirational stories to cultivate a reading habit and, consequently, a reading culture,” she said.
“Publishers of self-help books in Africa are moving to promote local languages and local features in their books. South Africa is promoting languages such as Afrikaans and Zulu, while Nigeria is slowly popularising Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba languages. Zimbabwe is also advancing Shona and Ndebele, among other indigenous languages, and this shift aims to expand the literature going out of Zimbabwe and to have the local languages and authors becoming internationally recognised.”
While Ziramba’s day-to-day tasks involve reviewing manuscripts, editing, design coordination and proofreading, her other duties pertain to identifying talented writers, illustrators and graphic designers. The softspoken publisher, who strives for equality, sustainable development and quality education, emphasised the importance of understanding the book publishing process.
“Book publishing is a process which starts with an idea, which is then conceptualised in preparation for writing. Authors are commissioned, then research and writing begins. Once a manuscript is complete, it is evaluated or assessed, where it can either be rejected or accepted. If accepted, the manuscript will undergo content editing to assess its relevance to the audience. Copy editing will further ensure consistency, clarity, coherence and correctness of the manuscript. Proofreading follows to check for flow, typos, spelling and punctuation inconsistencies when the book is in its final form before marking up for design,” Ziramba said.
Ziramba did a research project titled ‘The impact of ICTs on the printing sector’, which covered substantive details on the effects of information and communication technologies (ICTs) on the publishing industry.
“It’s a move that will take a while to achieve because while we advocate for a paperless environment, research has proved that the connection between readers and the printed paper cannot be divorced. We can only balance the two, hence the move towards environmentally friendly printing methods for sustainability. Social media and digital marketing, on the other hand, have had a great impact on how we do business, especially on the marketing side,” she said.
Unlike South Africa, Kenya, Senegal, and Egypt which have almost fully embraced technological advancements, Zimbabwe is slowly adapting to these changes. Aware of the state of affairs and influenced by the motto ‘Children like books, just like you do!’, Raincemba Publishing Professionals aims to catch up by producing and distributing electronic books to the global market.