At just 10 years of age, Macheke Government Primary School Grade Five pupil, Onald Gwiriri, has made history by becoming the youngest person ever to win a National Art Merit Awards (NAMA) gong.

Gwiriri, who says his main wish is to give a copy of his award-winning book, The Cursing Tortoise, to the President, was honoured at the 20th edition of the NAMA Awards that was held at the Rainbow Towers last weekend.

The Cursing Tortoise, which Onald wrote when he was just eight years old, won the NAMA Outstanding Children’s Book award.

I am quite excited to have won this award, and I will keep on writing. I wish to give a copy of my book to the President one day,” Onald told The Herald.

His parents also told the state media that though they encouraged their son’s talents, they never thought he would win a national award at such a young age.

“I am quite grateful to God and NAMA for affording my child this prestigious award. The award ceremony taught me a lesson that when a child does well, he or she becomes a nation’s child.

“The attention given to Onald was overwhelming. I shed tears of joy seeing my child being lifted up and pampered by celebrities, some pausing for selfies with him. In my lifetime, I have never had such attention.

“Onald is a shy boy, but this NAMA event boosted his confidence. I pray that every talented Zimbabwean child be given an opportunity and exposure to showcase his excellency and realise a dream.”

According to Nicholas Moyo, the Director of the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe, the quality of writing in The Cursing Tortoise, which was published by Essential Books Publishing Company, is ‘far more than a 10-year old’s scope’.

Said the NACZ Director:

“It’s very exciting to see one of the youngest writers in the country being nominated and then walking away with the coveted award. The book that Onald wrote was very good. When you read it, the quality of the writing is far more than a 10-year-old’s scope, but it’s a child writing, you can actually tell that it’s a child who was writing. It’s not some book which has been written by an older person and given to a child.

No. It’s a child’s writing. You can tell the way how the story unveils, the way how he expresses his horizon of thinking. As NAMA, we are very happy to be associated with such a raw product. NAMA awards excellence.”

The award-winning Grade Five pupil resides in Damview Park suburb in Harare. state media.