Two Books and Counting: Caleb Mangesho, a Young Author

By: Henry Sacra

“Everybody knows ‘every sixty seconds a child dies of malaria in Africa’ to the point of it being parodied, like, ‘every sixty seconds a minute passes in Africa; it’s an age old story. But, the thing is, nobody knows their names.”

Upon first glance, Caleb Mangesho (12) is a normal teenager just like myself. But, if you engage in even a moment of conversation with him, you will come to find a few things. Firstly, he is extremely, extremely kind. Mangesho is a very well spoken individual and an excellent listener. With this, he has superior intellect, which will be the focus of today’s article; he is an author with not one, but two books published. 

Mangesho is certainly academically inclined – for entertainment, he watches video essays about things that fascinate him and enjoys “country ball” videos which are videos that revolve around historical and geopolitical humor. 

“I really just like talking to people; having genuine conversations. Usually when I get home, the first thing I do is drop the backpack, you know, have a snack and chill for a bit! And after that – if I have any free time – I like to read and to write. But, most of my time has been occupied by these two books: Dreams of a Promise and The Pandemic Shuffle.”

Generally, the word “guru” conjures the image of a mania-ridden egotistical individual – Mangesho a scholar, writer, and intellectual, but his humble attitude and mostly normal daily routine could redefine what a guru is.

When asked about what made Mangesho want to finally “pull the trigger” and write a real book, he presented a story as rich as his personality. 

“I have wanted to write a book for a very long time,” said Mangesho. “I have loved writing since I started to read – since I realized stories were a way for people to be heard. So, I started writing around six. For instance, my first ‘book’ that I wrote was basically about tornados. It was a non-fiction book that I illustrated with white paper and markers… I even got my fourth grade teacher to sign it.”

He said that he had gotten rid of the book since, which prompted me to ask if he got rid of it because it was not perfect. He explained that that wasn’t the case, and that he will “brain-vomit” on to the paper and refine his work – I found this interesting as many writers are perfectionists.

Mangesho started getting into poetry in middle school; one of his published books is written in poems (The Pandemic Shuffle). The Pandemic Shuffle came about when his Spanish teacher assigned a project that required him to produce a creative work – he chose to write about how he felt during the pandemic and she loved it.

“That passed, but I kept thinking to myself, ‘I can’t just write one poem about how I feel during the pandemic, because I feel so many more things because of the pandemic.’ So, I kept writing and writing,” said Mangesho.

Eventually, he created a collective of 45 poems and published them in a compilation, which is The Pandemic Shuffle.

The cover of The Pandemic Shuffle, Mangesho’s first sole-authored published work

“It talks about how I dealt with all of these unimaginable circumstances as a student, a person of faith and as an African American. Overall, that book is basically my two-cents; if you get the book, it literally says ‘the faith and observations of a teenager’.”

As we were talking, Mangesho eventually mentioned his stepmother and how she runs a non-profit for orphans in Uganda – she was once one of the very people she has set out to help. His stepmother took notice of his love of writing and proposed writing a story about the experience of an orphan in Uganda.

“Stories like that are not heard often in today’s society. Everybody knows ‘every sixty seconds a child dies of malaria in Africa’ to the point of it being parodied, like, ‘every sixty seconds a minute passes in Africa; it’s an age old story. But, the thing is, nobody knows their names.”

Mangesho and his stepmother worked over three years to write a story based off of his stepmother’s story (published as Dreams of a Promise).

The cover of Dreams of a Paradise, written by Mangesho and his stepmom, Petra Otee Mangesho

I asked if we should be on the lookout for a book specifically about how his stepmother’s organization came to be.

“Maybe,” he responded in a slightly sly voice.

As our conversation came to a close, it was clear to me that I was sitting in front of a man who is not only living his life to the fullest, but a man who also truly has a future. Mangesho is a testament to the fact that you can get what you want, but you must take action; he wanted to write a book, so he did. His actions and successes should be grailed as proof to the principle that with work comes real results. Mangesho is not just an author – he is an inspiration; a person who does instead of dreams.

You may purchase these books for your Kindle or as a hard copy from Amazon at the links below:

Dreams of a Promise

The Pandemic Shuffle

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