Shudu finds her Magic is Miss South Africa 2021, Shudufhadzo Musida’s story. It is also a story for any young person struggling and trying to overcome their challenges. The children’s book tells the story of Miss South Africa’s beginnings in Ha-Vhangani. It culminates in her crowning as Miss South Africa.
The book published by Jacana’s Children Books is a delightful read. The artwork by Chantelle and Burgen Thorne is equally beautiful. While the book is aimed at children, the message of the story is universal. It tells the story of Miss South Africa as she tries to overcome her challenges and learns to love herself. The Daily Vox team spoke to Musida about her book.
What made you decide to write this book?
A big part of my advocacy since being crowned Miss SA has been on mental health awareness, education and wellbeing. I host Mindful Mondays on Instagram targeted at young adults and older to discuss all things mental health. A children’s book was the best way to introduce the concept to children in a way that they could understand and relate to. The aim is to make the topic a less taboo and shameful subject by the time they are older, meaning to destigmatise mental health issues.
Was it difficult sharing your experiences and vulnerabilities?
It really wasn’t. I had to speak out and speak to someone on my experiences of being bullied. You can’t give from an empty cup. I felt it was important to share my story with the children to show them that they are not alone and that speaking about your feelings does help. They shouldn’t be silenced.
How was the process of writing the book and putting the story together?
It was a major learning curve but I am blessed to have had a team that not only supported me throughout the journey. I was able to get the exact message I wanted to and I enjoyed the process.
What message do you hope children but generally people who read the book take from it?
There are three key lessons to take away from this book. I’ve been so touched to see children pick them up when I read this book. The notion of being true to yourself and not conforming to the ideals of others. We are perfect as we are. I also encourage the use of our voices for speaking up against wrongs done to us or to others. We are powerful and may forget it sometimes.
Lastly, I highlight the importance of talking to someone about our feelings; a loved one, professional or support group structure. Free resources such as the South African Depression and Anxiety Group and other organisations exist. All these should be applied in all stages and aspects of life.
What have been some of your proudest moments besides winning Miss South Africa?
Since being crowned, I have achieved dreams I’ve always thought I would only attain later in my life. There’s been so many. One has been virtually addressing the United Nations Generation Equality Forum in Paris. I spoke on the importance of mental health awareness and education and how it can be used to tackle some of the social ills the world still faces today. This was amazing as I spoke after the prime minister of Gabon – Rose Christiane Raponda. As an International Relations scholar who has always had interest in policy making and working with the UN, I was so happy for the opportunity.
Do you plan on writing any other books? What other plans do you have for the future?
I think so. The reception of this book has been so positive and I still would like to target older children. I have done teenage school visits on the topic of mental health/bullying and strongly believe that these conversations with them are needed. We as adults often side line and make decisions on children’s behalf. However, listening to them has shown me that they are also willing to come up with solutions to what they are facing and just need to be heard.
Shudu Finds Her Magic is published by Jacana Publishers. The book is available at Exclusive Books and all other good bookstores.
The interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.