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Sia Lives on Kilimanjaro
Author Astrid Lindgren
Original title Sia bor på Kilimandjaro
Illustrator Anna Riwkin-Brick
Country Sweden
Language Swedish
Series Children's Everywhere
Genre Children's literature
Publisher Rabén & Sjögren
Publication date
Published in English
Preceded by Noriko-San: girl of Japan 
Followed by My Swedish Cousins 

Sia Lives on Kilimanjaro (original Swedish title: Sia bor på Kilimandjaro) is a children's book written by Astrid Lindgren and with photographs by Anna Riwkin-Brick. The original Swedish edition was published in 1958 by the Rabén & Sjögren publishing company in Stockholm. The English translation was published in 1959, in London by Methuen, and in New York by Macmillan. The book was published as part of the Children's Everywhere photo book series. It is a story of a young girl who wants to visit the king at the Chagga Feast, but her father tells her she is too young, and her brother tells her only boys are allowed. Story about self-determination.


Sia is eight years old and lives with her family on the Kilimanjaro, a high mountain in Africa. She has two younger brothers Saika and Kitutu, one younger sister Linga and one older brother Sariko. The family belongs to the Chagga people. Sia and her brothers and sisters help their parents with their works, like cutting grass. When Sia's parents decide to go to the Chagga Fest at Moshi to see King Marealle, Sia wants to join them. However, her father tells her that no children are allowed there, she is too young for the feast and needs to stay home. Sia is told to take care of her younger brothers and sisters. Her older brother Sariko, decides to follow his parents, but tells Sia that only boys are allowed to go. Sia secretly follows him. She thinks that her aunt Mamole can take care of her brothers and sisters. Sariko suddenly realizes that Sia follows him. He angrily tells her to go back home. He adds that he is getting a lift and Sia can't walk there. Then he gets up onto the back of a truck and leaves Sia behind. Sia stops some motor cars and asks for a ride to Moshi. In Moshi Sia only sees boys at the feast, and she wonders if her brother was right and maybe only boys were allowed to come there. She watches some dancers and finally sees King Marealle. Sia is happy and tells him that she went a long way to see him. She also tells the King that her brother thought she was too young to go there. So the King decides to talk to her brother. Meanwhile, her parents are watching her. They are surprised that even though they have told their children not to come, their son and daughter are at the feast, talking to the King. However, they decide not to be cross with their children. After the feast is over Sariko tells Sia that she is indeed not too young to go to the feast, she is as big as the Kilimanjaro.


The story is based on true events. Some things have been changed. Sia's original name was changed. Sia didn't know that she was photographed for a book. She did the photographs because of her father. As a grown up Sia had become a doctor who does researches on HIV.

Documentary film from Israel

Especially in Israel, the Children's Everywhere series, including Sia Lives on Kilimanjaro, was a great success, thanks to the translations by the poet Leah Goldberg. On 5 August 2016 the Israeli director Dvorit Shargal made a 54 minutes film called Africa! Sia Lives on Kilimanjaro. Here Shargal goes to Africa to find Sia from Sia Lives on Kilimanjaro and tell her story.

Awards and nominations


New York Herald Tribunes Spring Festival Award

  • 1963 Children's Spring Book


Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis

  • 1960 picture book


  • Sia bor på Kilimandjaro (1958): Rabén & Sjögren (Swedish Edition)
  • Sia wohnt am Kilimandscharo (1958): Oetinger (German Edition)
  • Sia Lives on Kilimanjaro (1959): Methuen (British Edition)
  • Sia Lives on Kilimanjaro (1959): Macmillan (US-american Edition)
  • Sia woont op de Kilimanjaro (1959): Raad voor de zending der Ned. hervormde kerk (Dutch Edition)
  • Sia bor på Kilimanjaro (1970): Høst & søn (Danish Edition)
  • Sia anaishi Kilimanjaro (1997): Utgivningsland okänt / Ej specificerat (Swahili Edition)
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