Fiji Children's Books by Shazia Usman
When 10-year-old Zia hears her aunt call her ‘kaluti’ and stops her cousin Rani from playing with her outside, she is confused. What did the word ‘kaluti’ mean and what did it have to do with her? Was she no longer good enough to play with Rani because of it?
Worried but determined, she sets off on a mission to find out. Join Zia as she stands up to her bully, discovers what makes her ‘enough’ in this world, and falls in love with the skin she’s in.
Read pages of the book by scrolling through the images.
What is Kaluti about?
Kaluti is a derogatory term used by Fiji-Indians to describe dark-skinned people. It’s derived from the Hindi word kala, meaning black, and is commonly used among South Asian populations around the world, even in the diaspora. Fiji, despite being in the Pacific, is no exception. As colourism is a common form of discrimination faced by millions of brown and black people (especially women and girls) around the world, what Zia experiences in this story, is sadly not unique. But what is unique is how she (and her parents) handle the bullying.
“Zia’s aunt is the bully in this story and this was a deliberate choice on my part. Most of the time it’s the violence – emotional in this case – and the discrimination in the home that we don’t know how to address. It’s difficult to deal with family members. But I wanted to show how it could possibly be addressed constructively…in ways that ensures the child comes to no harm, and adults check their attitude and behaviour. I know readers will relate to Zia and identify with her challenges and her joy. She’s full of life and curiosity. When made to feel like an ‘other’, she tries to make sense of things…even goes on a journey of self-discovery to understand why she is important, why she is enough – it’s not something we want children to be forced to deal with at this age, but I think it’s important our stories reflect reality,” says author Shazia Usman.
“We don’t really have stories that reflect the lives of brown girls, of Indo-Fijian girls, and I want Kaluti to do that. This is the kind of story I would have loved to have read growing up. We need more stories that represent us and are told by us.”