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Archive for the ‘Xitsonga’ Category

“Reading is a powerful force in society and connects us to the thoughts and ideas of people across space and time” – a Q&A with Theresa Giorza, literacies activist and PhD researcher

Published in the Sunday World: 20 May 2018; Daily Dispatch 21 May 2018; Herald 24 May 2018

By Carla Lever

Children decide in pairs which picture we are are going to discuss to follow our question: “Can a street be a classroom?” Here, two girls vote for a picture showing a collection of cut-out mermaids and fairies. Photographer: Daniel Born

 
Can you tell us a little about your research?

I’m really interested in the ways that children create stories but also connect with everyday objects, situations and spaces. My research has been about finding out how children make meaning by engaging with their surroundings. I’ve recently experimented with the question of whether a street can be a classroom and uncovered a whole lot of new ways of thinking about public spaces and children’s learning.

Why is children’s literacy such a passion for you?

Actually I like to talk about ‘literacies’ rather than ‘literacy’ because I see children expressing themselves through so many different means, many of them not needing words at all. Drawing is probably the most well supported story-making children’s language that is acknowledged by adults, but there are so many more!

Your work must have taken you to some interesting places and situations! Can you tell us some of the most memorable moments with children and storytelling?

The most remarkable things have happened when I have been able to return to a group of children I have worked with. The way that the slow, thoughtful processing of ideas works over time and re-emerges in different expressions is always surprising. Children develop their own favorite themes that can be seen as the beginning of their ‘literacy’ practice – even if there are no words involved!

What are the biggest everyday things all of us can do to make a difference with literacy acquisition and a love for books in our families and communities?

The two most important things are so simple: to have really good conversations and to be interested in the world! The key to having good conversations is to be interested in how people, including the very smallest people, see things and in what they think about the world.

What are some of the most creative South African teaching solutions you’ve encountered in response to lack of resources or challenging conditions?

The use of an ‘enquiry-based’ approach to learning is really creative. It’s a form of learning where children are encouraged to ask questions and explore ideas themselves as a way into a topic, rather than just being told facts. Philosophy with Children, for example, is an enquiry-based approach that uses picture books to explore ideas in a space in which the ideas and questions of children lead the session instead of the teacher.

Why is reading together with children – and by oneself around children – so important?

Reading is a powerful force in society and connects us to the thoughts and ideas of people across space and time! Reading is at the centre of the way we learn and communicate, so it’s important that we invite children in as new readers as early as possible and establish reading as an enjoyable and inclusive activity.

What positive changes do you think we can realistically expect to see in the next five years in South African literacies or education?

One positive change I anticipate is for parents and families to really come on board in promoting children’s literacies. We need to educate parents about the importance of all the ‘literacies’ their children can explore before being introduced to school instruction – creative expression in storytelling, music, drawing and pattern making. Even more positive changes will come when ‘formal’ literacy learning embraces the abilities that children have for creating meaning, inventing narratives and engaging with the world together.

From Sunday April 15, Nal’ibali will be publishing its supplements in two new languages. An English-Setswana edition will be published in the Sunday World in the North West, and an English-Xitsonga edition will be donated to reading clubs in Limpopo. Clubs in both provinces will collect their copies from select post offices. The post offices (10 in each province) will also have 50 additional editions each to give away to member of the public.


» read article

Play it forward: win and donate books!

Via TimesLive

When you read to your children, you invest in their future. Image: Rico

 
Many stories for children have been adapted over time from stories that were originally created for adults. In fact, translators have often been responsible for crafting and reshaping stories across time and space to suit their different audiences.

Think of Aesop’s fables. Aesop was a slave and storyteller in Ancient Greece in the 5th Century BCE. For centuries his stories moved across continents and were told and heard in many languages. They first appeared in print in 1484 – as stories for children, and in English. Even today, new versions of these stories continue to be created.

Many famous fairy tales have different versions around the world. For example, across Africa and Europe, in Russia, Appalachia, India and Japan, versions of the Grimm’s fairy tale, Hansel and Gretel, are told and read. So, the history of children’s literature is a history of translation. Through translation, stories from Greek, Latin, Hebrew, French, Italian and Asian languages have found their way into English. In South Africa, Pinocchio, originally written in Italian, has become Pinokiyo ngesiXhosa and is now appreciated by children who do not necessarily know that the story came from Italy.

‘Pinnocchio’ can now be enjoyed in isiXhosa, as ‘Pinokiyo’. Image: Rico.

 
Stories that originated in Africa have been retold in many languages too. All over the world people read the popular trickster tales featuring Hare, Tortoise or Spider. These stories use animals with human qualities to entertain and teach, and to share wisdom and understanding about human nature and human behaviour.

At the moment there are not enough children’s storybooks in African languages, either as original writing or as translations. But the numbers will grow as people get to know, choose, read and talk about storybooks with their children, and request storybooks in their languages of choice.

As citizens of the world, we are curious about each other and learn about each other as we tell and retell our stories.

Nal’ibali is growing a collection of stories in a range of South African languages. You can find them on the Nal’ibali website or mobisite.

Reading aloud to your children:

  • shows them that you value books and reading;
  • gives you things to talk about together;
  • builds a bond with them;
  • allows them to experience reading as a satisfying activity;
  • motivates them to learn to read for themselves and then to keep reading;
  • shows them how we read and how books work;
  • lets them enjoy stories that are beyond their current reading ability; and
  • develops their vocabulary and language abilities.
  • Try reading this story to your children

    Expand your children’s world! Read them the story of Neo’s imaginary adventure in Neo and the big, wide world by Vianne Venter, then do the Get creative! activity at the end of the story with them.

    Get your Nal’ibali supplement

    Sunday Times Express (Western Cape) – English and isiXhosa – Sunday, April 29

    Sunday World (North West Province) – English and Setswana – Sunday 29 April

    Sunday World (KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng) – English and isiZulu – Sunday 29 April

    Sunday World (Free State) – English and Sesotho – Sunday 29 April

    Sunday World (Limpopo) – English and Sepedi– Sunday 29 April

    • English and Xitsonga supplements will be available at selected SA Post Offices and reading clubs in Limpopo

    The Herald (Thursday 3 May) and Daily Dispatch (Tuesday 1 May) (Eastern Cape) – English and isiXhosa.

    Play it forward: WIN and donate books

    Two lucky readers can win 10 books each week and donate them to a school, reading club or library of their choice.

    The third runner-up will win a Nal’ibali reading-at-home starter pack.

    Books are donated by Tiso Blackstar Group and Jacana Media.

    To enter, contact patti.mcdonald@tisoblackstar.co.za before 5pm on Thursday, May 10 and give one reason why we need to read to children in their mother tongue. Include your name, cellphone number and physical address.

    Winners will be announced on Friday, May 11. Terms and conditions apply.


» read article

Nal’ibali is growing a collection of fables and stories in a range of South African languages

Via TimesLive

When you read to your children, you invest in their future. Image: Rico

 
Many stories for children have been adapted over time from stories that were originally created for adults. In fact, translators have often been responsible for crafting and reshaping stories across time and space to suit their different audiences.

Think of Aesop’s fables. Aesop was a slave and storyteller in Ancient Greece in the 5th Century BCE. For centuries his stories moved across continents and were told and heard in many languages. They first appeared in print in 1484 – as stories for children, and in English! Even today new versions of these stories continue to be created.

Many famous fairy tales have different versions around the world. For example, across Africa and Europe, in Russia, Appalachia, India and Japan, versions of the Grimm’s fairy tale, ‘Hansel and Gretel’, are told and read. So, the history of children’s literature is a history of translation. Through translation, stories from Greek, Latin, Hebrew, French, Italian and Asian languages have found their way into English. In South Africa, ‘Pinocchio’, originally written in Italian, has become ‘Pinokiyo’ in isiXhosa and is now appreciated by children who do not necessarily know that the story came from Italy.

‘Pinnocchio’ can now be enjoyed in isiXhosa, as ‘Pinokiyo’. Image: Rico.

 
Stories that originated in Africa have been retold in many languages too. All over the world people read the popular trickster tales featuring Hare, Tortoise or Spider. These stories use animals with human qualities to entertain and teach, and to share wisdom and understanding about human nature and human behaviour.

At the moment there are not enough children’s storybooks in African languages, either as original writing or as translations. But the numbers will grow as people get to know, choose, read and talk about storybooks with their children, and request storybooks in their languages of choice.

As citizens of the world, we are curious about each other and learn about each other as we tell and retell our stories.

Nal’ibali is growing a collection of stories in a range of South African languages. You can find them on the Nal’ibali website or mobisite.

Get your Nal’ibali supplement
Sunday Times Express (Western Cape) – English and isiXhosa – Sunday 29 April
Sunday World (North West Province) – English and Setswana – Sunday 29 April
Sunday World (KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng) – English and isiZulu – Sunday 29 April
Sunday World (Free State) – English and Sesotho – Sunday 29 April
Sunday World (Limpopo) – English and Sepedi– Sunday 29 April
• English and Xitsonga supplements will be available at selected SA Post Offices and reading clubs in Limpopo
The Herald (Thursday 3 May) and Daily Dispatch (Tuesday 1 May) (Eastern Cape) – English and isiXhosa.

Expand your children’s world! Read them the story of Neo’s imaginary adventure in Neo and the big, wide world by Vianne Venter, then do the Get creative! activity at the end of the story with them.


» read article

Nal’ibali adds two more South African languages to their literacy newspaper supplements

Via Nal’ibali

Nal’ibali – South Africa’s national reading-for-enjoyment campaign – is proud to be adding two more South African languages to their literacy newspaper supplements. Setswana and Xitsonga readers can now enjoy the Nal’ibali supplements in their mother languages from mid-April 2018. This latest addition brings the total number of languages to eight, for Nal’ibali’s bilingual supplements. It is a significant milestone for Nal’ibali, who fully promotes reading and writing in mother languages.

The supplements are made possible through a media partnership with Tiso Blackstar (formerly Times Media Group), who produce the bilingual newspaper supplements every two weeks, during term time. The print rich material includes stories, literacy activities, reading and reading club tips and support, to inspire and guide parents, caregivers, teachers, librarians and reading clubs, to make reading and storytelling meaningful, enjoyable and accessible.

“The importance of mother language preservation and promotion is critical and should be addressed as such,” explains Nal’ibali Xitsonga language editor, Mr Gezani Chabalala, who believes language, culture and identity are inseparable and complement each other. Language assists in shaping one’s culture. It is important to preserve and promote mother tongue for the language’s continued existence, and as a minority language in SA, Xitsonga speakers will benefit from this milestone. People learn and understand better when lessons are conducted in a language they know and understand well, concludes Chabalala.

Nal’ibali places value on the power of language and cultural relevance in literacy development. To cultivate a reading culture and a nation that prides itself on high-level literacy, all children and adults need to understand what they are listening to and reading. Real understanding makes it meaningful and enjoyable which is significant for raising readers.

“I would like to commend Nal’ibali for giving the Batswana children, and children of other languages, an opportunity to read interesting stories in their own language! It is a great effort towards ensuring we cultivate a culture of reading in our children, at the same time preserving our language. In my opinion, children who can write and read in their language can easily learn other languages. Through storytelling, with special reference to Setswana, our language and culture will be hugely promoted, as Nal’ibali urges children to interact with others, to use their imagination and to learn from these stories” says Opelo Thole, Nal’ibali Setswana language editor.

Several Tiso Blackstar titles distribute 147,600 reading-for-enjoyment supplements fortnightly in the following language combinations, available during school term time only:

• Sunday World (North West Province) – English and Setswana – Sundays
• English and Xitsonga supplements will be available at selected SA Post Offices and reading clubs in Limpopo
• Sunday Times Express (Western Cape) – English and isiXhosa – Sundays
• Sunday World (KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng) – English and isiZulu – Sundays
• Sunday World (Free State) – English and Sesotho – Sundays
• Sunday World (Limpopo) – English and Sepedi – Sundays
• The Herald (Thursdays) and Daily Dispatch (Tuesdays) (Eastern Cape) – English and isiXhosa.

Each week, 53 000 supplements are also distributed free of charge through Tiso Blackstar Education directly to reading clubs, community organisations, libraries, schools and other partners in the Eastern Cape, Western Cape, Gauteng, Free State, Limpopo, North West and KwaZulu-Natal. A limited number of free supplements will be available at select post offices in Limpopo and North West. Visit Nal’ibali’s website to see a list of these post offices.

To download digital copies of the supplements and more information about the Nal’ibali reading-for-enjoyment campaign, free children’s stories in a range of SA languages, tips on reading and writing with children, details on how to set up a reading club or to request training, visit www.nalibali.org, www.nalibali.mobi, or find them on Facebook and Twitter..


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Writing in English is a waste of ink if we consider the shortage of books in African languages – Vonani Bila at the launch of A Ri Hlanhlekangi

By Tshifhiwa Given Mukwevho

Writing in English is a waste of ink if we consider the shortage of books in African languages.

- Poet and publisher Vonani Bila during the launch of Samuel Malamulele Risenga’s Xitsonga autobiography, A Ri Hlanhlekangi

Launch of A Ri Hlanhlekangi
Moses Mtileni, Valerie Risenga (author’s wife), Prof. Samuel Malamulele Risenga and Vonani Bila

 

Professor Samuel Malamulele Risenga, who is head of the Department of Paediatric Pulmonology and Allergy at the University of Limpopo and at the Polokwane Provincial Hospital, has just launched his autobiography, A Ri Hlanhlekangi.

What makes his story unique is that he has written the book in his mother tongue, Xitsonga.

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It took Risenga about five years to finish the book, and he says the writing experience was full of emotion because he was reliving things he went through in his life, both good and bad.

“I would at times feel sad and at times feel happy for having overcome obstacles on the way,” he said.

Risenga decided to write his autobiography in Xitsonga because he says he can express himself much better in the language.

“The other reason is that there is a need to promote our indigenous languages,” he said. “If we do not do that, these languages will slowly be forgotten. Our languages are actually very rich in expression and this needs to be maintained.”

He said that the book showed that poverty should not be a determining factor in terms of achievement. It is possible to make it against all odds. “I would like to recommend it to the youth as it is an inspirational work,” he said.

Samuel Malamulele Risenga

 

The book was launched a fortnight ago at a glittering evening at Oasis Hotel in Giyani. The launch was well attended by professionals across many fields and community members who all came to celebrate a life told on paper and told in the language of the people. A talented Afro-soul singer, Mphuzi Chauke (below), rendered some songs during the launch.

Mphuzi ChaukeAttendees who had read the book before the launch all praised Risenga for his amazing use of the Xitsonga language in telling his story. Some even quoted from the book, while others spoke fondly about certain parts or chapters that they had found entertaining or touching.

A prominent poet and publisher, Vonani Bila, said that the significance of writing an autobiography was that your adventures in life were preserved for posterity.

“Although not every life lived bears the same weight, it is nonetheless crucial to record each life using your own pen so that your life is not misrepresented by secondary observers,” Bila indicated. “Of greater importance is to write in our indigenous languages, which carry the richness of cultural expression. Writing in English is a waste of ink if we consider the shortage of books in African languages.”

The director of Nhlalala Books, Moses Mtileni (below), who published the autobiography, said that A Ri Hlanhlekangi was one of only a handful of books in the genre in the Xitsonga language, with the ones preceding it published largely pre-1994. “A Ri Hlanhlekangi is published as part of Nhlalala Books’s effort at pushing boundaries in the language, publishing genres neglected and experimental works in other genres,” he stated.

Nhlalala Books' publisher Moses Mtileni

 

The publisher’s statement on the book reads:

It was his N’wa-Khimbini, when asked to name the son of Ben and Rossy Makhanani Makhubele, who said: “We will call him Buwa, a particle of soil, it will crumble like the two before it. She referred here to his two late brothers who had died in infancy. But it is 66 years today, and Buwa (Samuel Malamulele Risenga) has not crumbled. Hence the title, A Ri Hlanhlekangi (It has not crumbled). He has wrestled poverty, having lost his father at around age 14, leaving school at some point to work as a builder to save for school fees and accommodation. He reflects on the forced migration following the adoption of the Group Areas Act, on the challenges of studying medicine in the Black Section of the University of Natal, the inspiration he drew from the Chris Barnard story. It is story of triumph and loss, of perseverance and patience and a deeper thirst for learning and service.

Those interested in A Ri Hlanhlekangi can contact the publisher at nhlalalabooks@gmail.com or 0725943448.

nullThe Violent Gestures of LifeA Traumatic RevengeTshifhiwa Given Mukwevho is the author of A Traumatic Revenge and The Violent Gestures of Life, and a Tshivenda novel, A Thi Nga Tendi, which he serialised on Facebook.
 
 
 

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New Ngugi wa Thiong’o story translated into over 30 African languages in record-breaking issue of Jalada Africa

Ngugi wa Thiong'o
In the House of the InterpreterA Grain of WheatThe River BetweenWeep Not, ChildPetals of BloodDreams in a Time of WarWizard of the Crow

 
The latest edition of Jalada Africa contains a new short story by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o translated into over 30 African languages, making it the “single most translated short story in the history of African writing”.

The short story was originally written in Kikuyu as “Ituĩka Rĩa Mũrũngarũ: Kana Kĩrĩa Gĩtũmaga Andũ Mathiĩ Marũngiĩ”, and was translated by Ngũgĩ himself into English as “The Upright Revolution: Or Why Humans Walk Upright”.

This is an impressive first foray into translation for Jalada Africa, a Pan-African writers’ collective based in Nairobi, Kenya. Translation Issue: Volume 1 is the culmination of a four-month project, and features collaborative work by professional and amateur translators as well as language enthusiasts from 14 African countries.

In his introduction to the issue, Jalada Africa managing editor Moses Kilolo says: “Professor Wa Thiong’o is uniquely placed to be the first distinguished author and intellectual featured in our periodical translations issue. He has, for many years, been the most vocal proponent in publishing in African languages.”

nullThe story is available in Afrikaans, English, isiNdebele, isiZulu and Xitsonga, as well as the original Kikuyu, Ahmharic, Dholuo, Kikamba, Lwisukha-Lwidakho, Ikinyarwada, Arabic, Luganda, Kiswahili, Hausa, Meru, Lingala, Igbo, Ibibio, Somali, Nandi, Rukiga, Bamanankan, Lugbarati, Shona, Lubukusu, Kimaragoli, Giriama, Sheng, Ewe, Naija Languej, Marakwet and French.

Audio recordings of the story are also available in Kikuyu, English and Sheng. The anthology will soon be available in PDF and ebook formats.

  • Jalada Africa encourages writers and translators who do not find their African languages featured in this issue and who would like to volunteer to contribute a translation of this story and to future Translation Issues to get in touch with at jaladatranslations@gmail.com.
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The aim of the project was to renew interest in publishing in local languages and increase access to such stories.

Ngũgĩ says: “The cruel genius of colonialism was to turn normality into abnormality and then make the colonised accept the abnormality as the real norm … mother tongue first; then add to it, as necessary, that’s the way of progress and empowerment.

“So [Jalada's] actions will empower Africa by making Africans own their resources from languages – making dreams with our languages – to other natural resources – making things with them, consuming some, exchanging some.

“The moment we lost our languages was also the moment we lost our bodies, our gold, diamonds, copper, coffee, tea. The moment we accepted (or being made to accept) that we could not do things with our languages was the moment we accepted that we could not make things with our vast resources.”

Read a short excerpt from the English version:

A long time ago humans used to walk on legs and arms, just like all the other four limbed creatures. Humans were faster than hare, leopard or rhino. Legs and arms were closer than any other organs: they had similar corresponding joints: shoulders and hips; elbows and knees; ankles and wrists; feet and hands, each ending with five toes and fingers, with nails on each toe and finger. Hands and feet had similar arrangements of their five toes and finger from the big toe and thumb to the smallest toes and pinkies. In those days the thumb was close to the other fingers, the same as the big toe. Legs and arms called each other first cousins.

Jalada Africa is planning more editions of translation, featuring a previously unpublished story of no more than 3,000 words. Writers and translators across the continent will be invited to submit and edit translations in their African language of knowledge and/or study. The ultimate goal is to have each story translated into 2,000 African languages.

Jalada’s September 2015 anthology, The Language Issue, also celebrates Africa’s diversity in language, with fiction, poetry, spoken word, visual art and essays in 23 African languages as well as English, French, Polish and Mandarin.

“Despite long-running conversations on the need for publishing in indigenous languages on the African continent over the past five decades, writing and translations remain minimal and the little that exists continues to rapidly decline,” the publication says. “Since our Languages Issue, we’ve deliberated on the best ways of making writing in our languages a continuous activity.

“We were convinced the previous anthology did not capture all the facets of languages we were interested in. There are millions of speakers in African languages and not many writers in African languages. Why? Can this be changed?”

 
Related stories:

Image courtesy of What’s Good Africa

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Download a free children’s story – available in 11 official languages – and pass on the power of stories this World Read Aloud Day

 
National reading-for-enjoyment campaign Nal’ibali has teamed up with Yvonne Chaka Chaka for World Read Aloud Day on 24 February, 2016.

Last year, with the support of hundreds of South Africans, Nal’ibali read aloud to over 166 000 children and it hopes to double or even triple that number this year.

Yvonne Chaka Chaka will be giving her own special reading of Neo and the Big Wide World in isiZulu to children at Orlando Stadium in Soweto.

In addition, Orlando Pirates Football Club will launch its Reading Stars Programme.

Scroll down to find out more and download the book.

 

“If we want our children to grow up as strong and powerful readers, we must demonstrate reading for them,” Nal’ibali managing director Jade Jacobsohn says. “When you read aloud to a child, you show them what reading looks like and how to make sense of text. Exposing them to new words and expressions used in stories helps to develop their vocabularies and provides a rich pool of language for children to draw from when they want to read and write on their own.”

Carole Bloch, executive director of PRAESA (the Project for the Study of Alternative Education), a co-founder of Nal’ibali, adds: “The power of reading aloud to children is incredible. Not only is it richly rewarding and enjoyable for any age, it is also the way we establish the foundational, knowledge and motivation young children need as they are learning to read – and indeed for all learning.

 

“There are over 17 000 000 children in South Africa with only around 5 percent being read to by their caregivers. World Read Aloud Day celebrates the joy of sharing a good story and we hope that even more adults in South Africa will join us this year. Then let’s grow that 5 percent to 50 percent by continuing to explore books and stories throughout the year.”

How to get involved

This year’s special story, Neo and the Big Wide World, by Vianne Venter and illustrated by Rico of Madam and Eve Fame, is freely available for download from Nal’ibali’s web and mobisites.

Members of the public can also sign up on these sites to share how many children they will be reading to, and stand the chance to win one of four Bargain Books hampers worth R1 000 each!

 

Neo and the Big Wide World is available in all 11 official languages, and a further two: it will be available in Braille in the February edition of Blind SA’s youth magazine, while Sign Language Education and Development (SLED) has collaborated with Story Bosso runners up Kerrin Kokot and Jayne Batzofin to produce a signed video of the story which can be viewed on the Nal’ibali website.

The story will also appear in a commemorative edition of the Nal’ibali’s supplement produced in partnership with PRAESA and media partner Times Media.

 

You can access the World Read Aloud Day story online here:

And for a burst of storytelling inspiration, listen to Yvonne Chaka Chaka reading the story in English and isiZulu!


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Nal’ibali calls for more books in local languages for International Mother Language Day

 
Knowledge is power. Where do we keep knowledge? Books! So lots of books means … lots of power!

This is the central message of an inspiring new video produced by Nal’ibali, the national reading-for-enjoyment campaign, with which they are launching their call for more books in South African languages.

The call is made as part of the Nal’ibali celebration of International Mother Language Day, happening on 21 February. This year’s theme, as selected by the UN, will be “Quality education, language(s) of instruction and learning outcomes”.

All children deserve to learn to read, and to be read to in the language that they are most familiar with and comfortable in. In this way their experiences of books and stories become far richer through greater comprehension of the tales within. This is a crucial component in building children’s motivation to read, a desire which we know has significant implications for their future learning success. – Jade Jacobsohn, Managing Director of the Nal’ibali campaign.

A look at the Children’s Book Availability Report by The South African Publications Network (SAPnet) reveals that very few children are able to read books in their mother tongues owing to a lack of such books:

Between 2000 and 2015, 53 599 children’s books were published in South Africa. Of these 21 714 were English (40%), 12 934 were Afrikaans (24%), 3 638 isiXhosa (6%), 3561 isiZulu (6%), 2 341 Setswana (4%), 2 273 Sepedi (4%), 2 200 Sesotho (4%), 1 309 Xitsonga (2%); 1 144 Tshivenda (2%), 1 119 Siswati (2%) and 912 isiNdebele (1%). This does not take into account the number of these books that are school textbooks. The remaining books published were dictionaries.

 

Watch the video and be inspired to heed to Nal’ibali’s call for an increase in the production and distribution of books in indigenous languages:

YouTube Preview Image

 
Related story:

 

Press release

Nal’ibali launches powerful PSA this International Mother Languages Day

Highlighting the critical lack of books available in all African languages to children in South Africa, Nal’ibali, the national reading-for-enjoyment campaign, has produced a powerful public service announcement that illustrates the breakdown of books available per language and calls for support for African language reading materials for children. The video has been developed in recognition of International Mother Languages Day on Sunday, 21 February.

“All children deserve to learn to read, and to be read to in the language that they are most familiar with and comfortable in. In this way their experiences of books and stories become far richer through greater comprehension of the tales within. This is a crucial component in building children’s motivation to read, a desire which we know has significant implications for their future learning success,” explains Jade Jacobsohn, Managing Director of the Nal’ibali campaign.

“Without this, many African language speaking children are likely to continue to find learning to read and write a burdensome and difficult task. The accelerated growth and use of a multilingual children’s literature is a sign of appreciation of and care for the cultural and educational interests of all children. It also offers the chance to embrace diversity and grow common understandings”, adds Carole Bloch, Executive Director of PRAESA (the Project for the Study of Alternative Education in South Africa) cofounder and literacy content and quality assurance partner of Nal’ibali.

What motivates children to read? Research has shown that choice and relevance are two of the most critical components. When children can choose from a wide selection of books and stories that they understand, inspire them and are relevant to their lives, they are more likely to want to read.

However, a recent report issued by SAPnet (The South African Publications Network) shows that of the total number of books published in South Africa between the year 2000 and 2015, 40% of these were in English, 24% in Afrikaans and just 6% in isiXhosa and isiZulu. The remaining official languages were represented with percentages smaller than six. Most notably, the percentage of books for isiNdebele is just 1%*, an alarmingly small portion of books given the population breakdown per language.

It is also important to note that these figures do not take into account the number of books that are school textbooks, as this would further reduce the number of books available.

“We want our children to grow up to be strong and powerful readers, and to have the best chance of success in the classroom and in the workforce. We need to increase quantity and access to literacy materials in all languages. We need to start by promoting the importance of mother tongue languages and celebrating them,” concludes Jacobsohn.

Using languages which people understand deeply plays an important role in social and economic development. African languages must be accorded cultural capital. Nal’ibali would like to thank SAPnet and the Cape Town Central Library for their kind support in the production of the video and the Nal’ibali campaign.

For more information about the Nal’ibali campaign, to watch the video or to access children’s in a range of South African languages, visit www.nalibali.org and www.nalibali.mobi. You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter: nalibaliSA.

Ends


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We need to make it fashionable to write in our own languages: Tshifhiwa Given Mukwevho reports from the launch of two Xitsonga books in Giyani

 
By Tshifhiwa Given Mukwevho

The fragrance of new books permeated the air inside Giyani Multipurpose Hall during the recent launch of two Xitsonga books, Ntsena Loko Mpfula A Yo Sewula and Mpimavayeni.

nullNtsena Loko Mpfula A Yo Sewula is a poetry anthology, featuring 10 poets and edited by Moses Mtileni (left). The title can be translated as “If Only it Could Rain”.

Mpimavayeni is a novel, authored by Mtileni. Both books have been published by Nhlalala Books, a publishing initiative that aims to produce books that tell interesting and ignored stories to bolster South Africa’s reading level in African languages.

Speaking about the making of Ntsena Loko Mpfula A Yo Sewula, Mtileni says that the poets are young writers whose paths have crossed his at different times during the past five years.

“These are writers who presented to me complete manuscripts they had attempted to have published before, in full or in parts, and whose work I fell in love with,” he says. “They write differently from much of what existed in Xitsonga poetry and from each other, in concern and in style, and I felt they needed to be heard.”

nullnullnullPoets featured in the anthology are Basani Petronella Mathye, Hitekani Ian Ndlozi (left), Thymon Rivisi, Mkhongelo Prayers Chabalala, Onassis Mathebula (middle), Enock Dlayani Shishenge (right), Shikhumbuza Shadrack Vutlharimuni Mavasa, Khanyisa Vista Chauke, Nzam Noel Mathebula and Moses Nzama Khaizen Mtileni.

Mtileni says there is hope in the fact that these young people have chosen to write, and to do so in their own language. He believes publishers should give more time to books that transcend the education market.

“It is said that the levels of reading in African languages are very low,” he says. “As a result, much of what is published is aimed at the education market and not at general readership. The material published, both on language and fiction, is tailored in design, content and packaging to meet requirements outlined in bulky guidelines issued by the Department of Basic Education.”

Mtileni says that the criteria put in place by the Education Department do not allow much space for experimentation and innovation between and within genres.

“It limits writing for enriching the language and the cultures they embody,” he points out. “It limits the infinite possibilities language, writing and literature present for cultural preservation, sustenance and growth.”

Mtileni also notes that because much of the writing material developed for education is produced within very tight deadlines, there is limited time to hunt for new talent, new voices, new publishers, new writers, and by extension new stories and experiments.

“Many publishers confine themselves to this space, because it promises guaranteed purchase of books, it guarantees a market, an audience,” he says. “And emerging publishers who do not immediately penetrate this market battle for survival, the numbers they reach are too few to generate sufficient profits.

“Then there are the libraries, under the Department of Arts and Culture, which do not procure sufficient African language titles, especially in the cities.”

The answer, Mtileni says, is to try harder to cultivate a culture of reading and writing.

“We need to have as many book clubs and writing workshops and competitions as possible,” he says. “We need to make it fashionable to read and write in our own languages, because they allow us to speak more deeply about ourselves and for ourselves and with ourselves, and in doing so, to speak better to the world.”

Mtileni says writers writing in African languages need to engage with other languages and cultures from a position of authority, and to allow for richer cross-pollination of cultures and wisdoms embodied in their writing.

“And so we must find ways of opening up processes of book selection for education and for libraries and for archivism,” he says. “Having said all these things, I must qualify that I speak solely from my own experiences as a Xitsonga writer, translator and publisher and I do not assume that these challenges I cite apply across the board.

“Through concerted collective effort, it is possible to enrich our own languages, and to be enriched by them.”

nullProud poet Basani Mathye says: “I’m honoured to be featured in Ntsena Loko Mpfula A Yo Sewula. I am excited to be part of a group of young writers who are passionate about writing and preserving our mother tongue. We need to make reading fashionable, and especially books in our own languages.”

Mathye sees a bright future for herself as a writer. “I’m looking into writing Xitsonga children’s books and also working on a book about my family history. I hope to publish a collection of my poetry as well in the future.”

Everyone who attended the launch were offered free copies of both Ntsena Loko Mpfula A Yo Sewula and Mpimavayeni.

The launch has opened more doors for more books to be written and published, and for more literary activities to happen in and around Limpopo.

The Violent Gestures of LifeA Traumatic Revenge

Tshifhiwa Given Mukwevho is the author of A Traumatic Revenge and The Violent Gestures of Life:
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Vonani Bila to be Discharged from Hospital After Shooting

Vonani BilaBilakhulu!Books LIVE has received an update on the health of poet Vonani Bila, who was shot at his home at the weekend.

News broke early on Saturday morning that the Elim-based poet had been shot four times, and he was taken to Polokwane Hospital for surgery.

Gudani Ramikosi, Bila’s wife, says he has benefited from all the support he has received from friends in the literary community.

“Vonani is being discharged today from Polokwane Hospital to Elim Hospital where they will keep him for a day,” Ramikosi says.

“He is much better now and I believe it’s because of the prayers and support he’s been recieving from all his friends around the world.

“We thank Almighty for the speedy recovery. Please keep up praying for him as he now goes home and those thugs who shot him are still on the loose.”

Messages of support for Bila can be emailed here.

Bila’s most recent poetry collection is Bilakhulu!: Longer Poems, published last year.

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Author photograph from the launch of Bilakhulu! at David Krut Bookstore in Johannesburg, taken by Saaleha Idrees Bamjee

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