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Wakashio: A storybook for children

Over the years Maritime CEO has championed all manner of authors with maritime-related books, whether it be industry tomes, thrillers, historical works, even children’s books – but today we have unearthed a new, unlikely category – a children’s book focusing on one of shipping’s most high profile recent shipping disasters.

Wakashio has been penned by Anita Bacha, a Mauritian barrister by training now turned poet and author of two previous books on spirituality and self-realisation.

The Panama-flagged Wakashio ran aground on reefs off the southeast coast of Mauritius on July 25 last year, resulting in a severe bunker spill and the ship splitting in two. Locals rushed to come up with their own ingenious ways of trying to mop up the spill in an island-wide clean-up operation while anger was aimed at the slow response from the authorities, something that persists today. Salvage operations to remove the stern of the wrecked bulker continue while a local court has been hearing testimonies from crewmembers this week.

Bacha’s story of the disaster, written in French, is told from the perspective of two Mauritian children, Angela and Oshin and forms part of her ongoing campaign to get local children to read more books.

“The main purpose of my book is to get children interested in reading books, and good books. My book is a good book because it has a positive message for kids. The message is nature heals,” Bacha tells Maritime CEO.

On just how long it will take for the island to recover from the fuel spill, Bacha says, “Nature will take the time that she needs to heal.”

Mauritius has demanded Japan pay $34m in reparations for the accident, widely believed to be the single worst ecological disaster to hit the Indian Ocean island.

The book is available to buy here.


  1. Only in French!? Should also be translated to other languages – first of all in English!

    1. Hi
      I am Anita Bacha, the author of the children’s book ‘WAKASHIO’.
      I have written this book in French because our children in Mauritius read and understand French more easily. French language has many similarities with the local Kreole which is spoken by all the locals in Mauritius.
      I have written a fable for children inspired by the shipwreck of MV Wakashio, just like the French author Bernandin de Saint Pierre wrote the novel‘Paul et Virginie’ inspired by the shipwreck of the Saint Geran in the reefs off the north coast of Mauritius in the eightheen century.
      The price of the book is Rs195-/ only, a price that is affordable to the populace and to all the children of Mauritius.
      It is quite costly to produce a book here-
      we have to take into account the costs of proof reading,editing, illustrating, printing, binding, distributing and marketing.
      I am not sponsored by any one.
      In the event, I get a good audience and my book sells well and I cover my costs, I will be delighted to translate the book in all the languages of the world, mostly in the language of Love.

  2. I wonder if anyone will ever write a story on the poor seafarers aboard and as to what drove a group of highly trained professionals to err. I remember charting the courses of my vessel even as close as two miles from the coast when I was a 2nd Officer simply because we wanted to get connected back home. In fact, the Captain would insist that this be the case. Contract periods were long then, but nothing like what the seafarers have to endure now with the ongoing crew-change crisis!
    Seafarers don’t want the world’s sympathy, but a little empathy will go a long way!

  3. I would happily give a long list of maritime accidents to the author Anita Bacha. And each accident is unique in its own ways.

    However, why disregard the humans who run the ships… I agree with Capt. Gautam Ramaswamy

    1. Interesting question.
      If a child were to ask me-
      Was there no crew onboard?
      The answer would be –
      On the day and time, the two children reached the seafront with their mom,
      there was no one on board the ship.

    2. Hello
      You are absolutely right.Each maritime accident is unique.
      At school and at the age of 11, I studied the novel Paul et Virginie, written by Bernandin de Saint Pierre, as part of our French Literature syllabus.
      Later I read that Paul et Virginie was a bestseller in Europe with over two million copies sold.
      The story of Paul et Virginie was inspired from the ship wreck of the slave ship St Geran on the fringing reefs of the north east coast of Mauritius in 1744.
      St Geran was bringing colonists with a crew of 110 seamen and a cargo of iron sugar cauldrons. It went aground and broke up on 17 August 1744.
      Only 9 survived.
      Captain of the ship: De la Mare, Gabriel, Richard.
      Source: Internet.
      I am not interested in any other maritime accidents, thank you.
      I am a writer, interested in guiding Mauritian children to read books.

  4. I wish you well. Anything like this is always helpful, but unless you have deliberately stayed away from the issue of culpability, you may have to write a revision. The Captain of the “Wakashio” is attracting a great deal of sympathy, since he and his crew have been on the ship an unconscionable length of time, which must inflict irreparable damage on him and his family. A book without underlining this factor would be incomplete. Children will identify with the people involved if it is rendered in terms of absence from home and family. It will be more difficult to convey what a “Captain” is and what he does on the ship. Most people have a simplistic view that the Captain steers the ship. Relating that back to the grounding may be slightly more difficult, if the book is not to undermine public confidence in the profession.

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