Shaped by the streets of Havana

• By Rosalia David

ASPIRING writer and poet 20-year-old University of Namibia student Elizabeth Tobias has released her first book titled ‘Shaped by the streets of Havana’ which unleashes the journey of a young girl living on the outskirts of Windhoek.

Speaking to Confidente this week, the budding author described her book as a galvanising, thrilling, inspiring and heart touching.

“The girl in the novel being young and having valid dreams, living in Havana has not been easy … everyday challenges, discrimination from school and other communities, losing her self-confidence, she had to face it all, as the place she calls home gave it hard on her.

“Despite being from a poor background, her everyday challenges forced her to rise as a valiant and brave girl and do great to bring change. She later on learned to be proud of where she is from without fear but pride and accepting that challenges can shape us into better individuals,” Tobias narrated.

With a passion for writing and reading the author is currently pursuing an honours degree in education.

After the literature bug bit her at the age of 10, Tobias pursued her dream until reaching the teenage stage where she started doing poetry.

“When I was 10 years old, I discovered my inborn inclination of writing, which I never gave up on. Writing forces me to confront issues, to define and redefine my own thoughts and bring to light situations that seem impossible,” she said.

She said although the novel could only be published this year, it was written last year.

Tobias said writing the novel was a walk in the park for her as she herself experienced the harsh living conditions of young girls live in informal settlements.

“I would say it took me two weeks to finish writing my book. I’ve seen and experienced some of the challenges in Havana. Poor sanitation, poverty and improper shelter have forced me to speak for the voiceless.

“Seeing the young generation getting into drugs, theft and alcohol simply because they feel their dreams are invalid and living in Havana means their existence is not essential. Seeing the everyday challenges which truly breaks my heart, has inspired me and pushed my capabilities to come out and be heard through this book and one day change the situation.”

Despite having the story all figured out, Tobias said after completing the novel, her mind was stuck between releasing the book or not.

“I was contemplating, as to whether anybody would read my book. As well as writing my book and at the same time completing my school work for my dream was to publish at the age of 19 no matter what. That were some of the challenges I had to go through,” she added.

Now that her first book is on the shelves she said she will be launching her second novel in October.

Tobias went on to say that for the individuals that never lived in informal settlements, she would want them to get rid of the negative perception they have on those living in there.

“Stop bullying and discriminating them. For some, especially the young it was not a choice and it does not mean they are not capable of being the best. For those living in Havana, your dreams are valid, dream, rise, and be proud. Shapeless is one who never experienced challenges. For Namibians at large to hold hands so we fight poverty together indeed it is possible, for as long as you are determined,” she noted.