- Category: TOW 2013
Elieshi Lema was born and grew up in a village on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. She studied librarianship and worked in the national library before returning to school for her degree in Literature in English at the University of Dar es Salaam and later a Master's in Creating Writing at San Francisco State University in the States.
Lema started off writing poetry before moving on to children’s books. Her first novelParched Earth - A Love Story, which she both wrote and published in 2001, has been translated into Swedish and published by Tranan in 2004. It has also been translated into French. In 2002, the novel received an honorable mention in the Noma Award for Publishing in Africa. It is also used as part of the curriculum at various universities.
Recently, her book for young adults, In the Belly of Dar es Salaam has been shortlisted for the Burt Award for African Literature, jointly run by the Children’s Book Project for Tanzania, CODE and sponsored by Canadian Bill Burt.
Lema also co-owns a publishing house, E & D Vision Publishing Ltd which publishes textbooks, children's books and general fiction. A newly opened book café run by a subsidiary is mandated to promote the culture of reading in Tanzania.
Lema was among the founding directors of Tanzania Cultural Trust Fund and was on the Boards of African Publishers Network, HAKI ELIMU, Tanzania Gender Networking Program, Tanzania Media Fund and on the Executive Committee of the Publishers Association of Tanzania.
She actively promotes reading through various projects initiated to support readership in indigenous languages. In her writing, Lema has an explicit gender perspective. She addresses topics such as patriarchy, gender and children’s rights, and HIV/Aids. She writes in Kiswahili and English.
In the Belly of Dar es Salaam, E & D Vision Publishing, 2011
Parched Earth - A Love Story, E & D Ltd, 2001