Meet Malawian Author Caroline Kautsire
Caroline Kautsire is a USA based author, professor, and actress. She was born in Malawi, attended boarding school at Kamuzu Academy High School, then moved to America at 17. Caroline sees herself as a spiritual being looking for the most fulfilling human experience possible. You should read her coming of age debut novel, What Kind of Girl?
The young writer realised she wanted to be a serious writer when she was 27 years old. “I visited Malawi after being away from it for many years. Being around Malawians reminded me of who I was when I was young. I wanted to write about my experiences at home and I wanted to share them with the world. So, I started a blog on social media until people started encouraging me to write a book. This is how I found my voice.”
The Malawian likes writers such as Toni Morrison, Chimamanda Adichie, Maya Angelou, Roxane Gay and Trevor Noah. “From them, I learned how to write clean, crisp sentences. I learned how to write vivid and provocative metaphors, and like Trevor Noah, I reached for that charming yet raw honesty that can sometimes be difficult to share with the world. I urge people to read works such as Born a Crime, Sula, Hunger, and Purple Hibiscus.”
When writing What Kind of Girl? Caroline imagined, “ That a few people would relate to what I shared in the book, but to my surprise, a lot of men have also expressed identifying with my experiences at a young age. It just shows how universal some experiences can be for both men and women.”
Key points people should take away from reading her book, “I want viewers to know that my book is a conversation-starter about how awkward growing up can be. I want them to know that a Malawian’s upbringing can shed light into their own coming of age stories. Being raised with American culture, British culture and African culture created a clash in my mind and I became confused about issues regarding gender, class, religion, sexuality and language itself. The book portrays Africa not as a “Third World” stereotype, but as a real place with real families. Think of the show The Fresh Prince of Bel Air but imagine an African family. In the end, I hope it encourages recognition of our equal humanity, emphasising how we are similar rather than different, no matter where we are from.”
Earlier this year Caroline announced that she is working on her second book, Some Kind of Girl. She states, “It is about what happened from the time I moved to America and how I took many risks to adapt to a new culture. Seeking to understand my identity as a black immigrant girl while simultaneously trying to defy social and cultural expectations from my upbringing in Malawi. My self-discovery awakened me to different kinds of insecurities about gender, race, class, language and sexuality. As I grappled with the tension between maintaining my well-cultured Malawian persona and fitting into an American society with different norms, I discovered that my desire to become a film actress shifted to a professional life I never saw coming-a profession rooted in teaching and writing.”
Balancing her various roles as a writer, professor, mentor and actress would be daunting to many but not Caroline. “It takes a lot of self-discipline and determination to juggle all these professional roles in life. It requires time management and a resilience that supersedes any obstacle keeping you from accomplishing your goals. When it came to my dreams, I refused to settle for mediocre or average results. I chose instead to aim for greater things. And with the help of God, I continue to strive for excellence.”
Writing What Kind of Girl? has been the highlight of the author’s young career so far, “It has opened up many opportunities to work with remarkable people and to create more content that inspires others to reach for their dreams.”
Caroline has her routines on coping day to day as a Malawian living in the USA, “Each day, I wake up with daily affirmations. I check in with God and I ask myself how I can make the world a better place. I try to make excellence a habit, so in everything I do, I want to apply myself fully. I live a life of service because I believe it’s important to help others. It is my responsibility to find ways to cultivate personal growth. So everyday is an adventure. Instead of thinking life is out to get me, I think of it as a patient cheerleader, waiting for me to be who I was born to be.”
If she were to give up one thing for a year it would be, “Procrastination. Because it constantly robs me of peace of mind and it disrupts the flow of what one can achieve by getting things done immediately.”
The actress can’t live without, “God. He is the source that strengthens me at the center of everything I do. Without God, I fall apart. With God, anything is possible.”
Given the chance to invite 3 of her role models for dinner she would invite Trevor Noah, Oprah and Obama. She would cook nsima (a Malawian dish made from cornmeal) and either chicken stew, beef stew or fish stew with vegetables.
Advice for her younger self, “I would tell myself to remember that failure is part of the process when one reaches for their dreams. We must learn from it. The reward of what you learn from failure is success.”
Words of wisdom for an aspiring writer struggling to find their voice. “I urge writers to find the strength to use their voices in the purest and most honest way. There is power in weaving narratives that help people understand the world better. There is power in raising awareness about things that go unnoticed. This is why I write. Therefore, writers must seize the opportunity to write as a means of impacting the world. We share a responsibility to provide knowledge and to cure ignorance. Let us not take it for granted. Let us create stories and expressions that deepen our readers’ lives through the powerful words we choose to use.”
The top 5 songs in her playlist right now:
Janelle Monae – Stronger
Travis Greene –Made a Way
Glass Animals – Heat Waves
Black Eyed Peas – Hit IT
Adele – Easy on Me
What she is most proud of about being Malawian, “I am proud of being from the Ngoni tribe. I am learning more and more about the culture and embracing it is a way of honouring my ancestors. I respect those who came before me.”
Caroline wants to be remembered as a kind person and as someone who bothered to open up the gift of life with enthusiasm like a child opening a present on Christmas. I want to be remembered as the person who cared in a world that can sometimes seem cold.”
Thank you for reading Caroline’s interview, please feel free to leave a comment, like and share. You can also browse through the blog to read many other interviews.