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"Here they have a chance to tell people their story" - a Q&A with two hosts of Red Cross Children's Hospital's child reporter-driven radio station, RX Radio

Nal’ibali Column 17: term 3

By Carla Lever

At the Red Cross Children’s Hospital, children are empowered to tell their own stories through RX Radio: a child reporter-driven radio station. Amirah and Hakeem talk to us about why no-one’s too young to author their own story.

Amirah (16) presents her own show and helps train new reporters.


Hakeem (17) is both a reporter and an apprentice.

Thanks for doing this interview. What’s it like to be asked the questions instead of asking them?

Hakeem: It’s quite weird as all my questions are prepared way before the interview. Now that I’m being interviewed, I understand now the pressure the interviewees must be feeling on my shows!

What does your job at RX radio involve? Is it fun?

Amirah: It’s so much fun working here at RX Radio. I present and script my show but I also help with training the new reporters.
Hakeem: It’s definitely super fun. As a reporter, I come up with content for my shows and collect Vox Pops because it’s nice to know how other people feel about things. I’m also an apprentice, which means editing different shows, training new recruits and covering different events.

Why do you think telling stories and sharing experiences is helpful for kids when they’re at Red Cross?

Amirah: It could help them become more confident and comfortable in telling their stories and come to grips with their health condition. Other kids with the same condition might also understand more.
Hakeem: Here they have a chance to tell people their story – even if it’s traumatizing or painful – and get it off their chest. They are constantly surrounded by children with different, and sometimes similar, illnesses and feel almost immediately at home and at ease at RX Radio.

How many patients and children work at RX?

Amirah: RX Radio has trained 67 child reporters.

Do you have to be a loud, outgoing person to be on radio?

Amirah: No, you don’t. In the beginning I was very quiet, but after a few weeks, months I came out of my shell and now I’m confident.
Hakeem: Not everyone is able to be like that and we don’t want anyone to be left out. So we’d usually allow all the children to take part in many different roles, such as reading the news or sports or participating in Vox Pops.

Often, doctors don’t see people unless they are sick. Why do you think it’s important and exciting for kids to be able to interview doctors who are helping them?

Hakeem: This way they feel more comfortable with their health care workers and build up a good relationship with them. In most interviews, they’ll disclose personal experiences which allows the child to think of as a friend.

Do the kids at RX get to choose what kinds of stories and features they make?

Amirah: Yes, they do. You get to choose what show and features you want.
Hakeem: Most definitely. The staff at RX Radio aim to be as little involved as possible. I’ll support, but the material comes mainly from the children themselves.

What are the most important skills kids would need to work at RX?

Amirah: Well they should be able to be social and confident enough to talk to someone face to face and be able to share their stories.
Hakeem: Also using a field recorder, which is important for someone on radio.

Amirah, I love your Hot Playlist – I listened a little while I was at work. And Hakeem, I can’t wait to hear some top tips on the outdoors from your show. What does it feel like to have a whole hour to tell people across the world stories about things you’re passionate about?

Amirah: It’s always nice to have time to share your favourite things, even if you’re not confident enough to share it with people closer to you. I’ve also met and interviewed so many new people during that one hour. And have listened to lots of amazing stories from Nal’ibali.

I know there are libraries and book clubs available at Red Cross. Can you tell me a little about the “Books and Breakfast” with Yusrah?

Amirah: In Yusrah’s show she talks about books she has read, interviews authors and talks about new books that have come out.
Hakeem: Yusrah’s sister Naseerah features in her show as well. She tells riddles and sometimes discusses books too.

There are people from so many different backgrounds at Red Cross. Do you use different languages at RX, or is it all in English?

Amirah: We mainly use English.
Hakeem: … but children are allowed to do things in their own language.

What advice would you give to kids who feel they have a story to tell the world?

Amirah: Well, they could always contact us and we will help them tell their stories.
Hakeem: Speak to your parents and tell them how you feel and I’m sure they will make sure you have a chance to tell your story. Also RX Radio will always be willing to hear your story and play it on air.

How can people tune in to listen?

Amirah: Children in the hospital can just switch to RX Radio but for outside listeners, they can stream us on
Hakeem: They can also search RX Radio on Twitter or Facebook. We even have an app in the Play Store for download!

Reading and telling stories with your children is a powerful gift to them. It builds knowledge, language, imagination and school success! For more information about the Nal’ibali campaign, or to access children’s stories in a range of South African languages, visit:

2018 READ Word Warrior Competition: encouraging creativity, raising literary warriors

Written on behalf of READ Educational Trust


A wise man once quipped: Creativity is contagious. Pass it on: Albert Einstein certainly knew what he was speaking about, and when it comes to encouraging creativity and imagination in our youth, just think of the untold treasure waiting to be discovered!

This is one of many reasons why READ Educational Trust is particularly encouraged to talk about the annual READ Word Warrior Competition: a platform used to promote literacy, reading and the art of creative writing among young South Africans.

Open to learners from the ages of nine through sixteen, our 2018 READ Word Warrior Competition requires entrants to write a fiction story incorporating a colourful character, Detective WW Inkomba. (‘Inkomba’ means ‘clue’ in Zulu and Xhosa). Our Word Warriors are required to produce a Fun, Fact-Finding (FFF) mission that draws readers in, and captivates them right up to the very last word!

The entry form is filled with tips and questions aimed at getting those creative juices flowing and bringing out the best in our budding Agatha Christies! All good detectives must be wondering what’s in it for them? Not only will their work be showcased on the READ website; the winner will receive a R1000 cash prize, and their school will receive R5000’s worth of books!

Last year’s Word Warrior Competition drew a host of interesting entries and READ is pleased to announce that the READ Word Warrior of 2017 is Lolo Legoabe from Boskop Primary School! The 2017 Word Warriors had to describe their idea of ‘My Treasure’, and Lolo gave us wonderful insight into her family of five … always there for each other, no matter what they face in life!

2017 Word Warrior winner – Lolo Legoabe

READ encourages learners, educators and parents alike to inspire participation in this competition.

“This is one of many vehicles we use, to harness that very weapon our patron the late Nelson Mandela was passionate about: education,” Lizelle Langford, PR and Fundraising Manager at READ Educational Trust, explains.

“Together we can sharpen the literary skills of South Africa’s future leaders. A noble cause and one that is worthy of supporting every step of the way!”

For more information about the 2018 READ Word Warrior Competition, contact READ Educational Trust on 0872377781, or visit

Join the conversations on:


Die 18de titel in die immergewilde Asterix-reeks het sopas die rakke getref!


Hoofman Allamapstix en sy vrou Margarien gaan kuier vir sy swaer Spoggerix in Lutecia. Allamapstix en Spoggerix kan egter nie help om te wedywer nie en dit loop uit op ’n uitnodiging van Allamapstix: Spoggerix kan ’n bredie wat gekrui is met lourierblare uit Caesar se lourierkrans by hulle kom eet! Dit beteken Asterix en Obelix moet Rome toe om die lourierblare te gaan kry. In Rome verkoop hulle hulself as slawe om naby aan Caesar te kom. Sal hulle met die slaaf Copineenmus kan ooreenkom om die lourierkrans met ’n vinkelkrans te ruil?

Caesar se lourierkrans is die 18de boek in die gewilde Asterix-reeks.


Sonya van Schalkwyk-Barrois woon in Parys, Frankryk. Sy het in Stellenbosh gestudeer en beskik oor ’n Magistergraad in Frans. Sy is onder meer die vertaler van die Kuifie-boeke.


"Books really can change your life" - a Q&A with Jean Williams, executive director of book donation NGO, Biblionef

Published in the Sunday World (03/06/2018), Daily Dispatch (04/-6/2018), Herald (07/06/2018)

By Carla Lever

Jean Williams has run Biblionef for many years and is now retiring. She is responsible for donating many storybooks to kids over the years and in all South African languages.


You are the only national organisation that make books available to children in all eleven of our national languages. That’s no mean feat! How do you manage to source quality, exciting content across such a wide range of languages?

We actually get our books from a variety of sources, including purchasing or accepting donations. Early in 1999, when we discovered how scarce storybooks in all African languages were, the Founder of Biblionef, Max Vegelin Van Claerbergen, suggested we commission publishers to print some of the most popular titles we had in South Africa into indigenous languages. Thanks to generous funding, we’ve been able to print 93 titles in indigenous languages! We really believe in making high quality books with lots of colourful illustrations and we’re proud of the fact that the majority of our books are locally written, illustrated and produced – in fact, our latest book was Kgalagadi Tales in all 11 languages, funded by the Lotto.

Why do you believe so passionately that access to books is the key to a child’s future?

Books really can change your life. They open your mind and that changes your attitude towards life and the world around you. Once you taste the joy books bring you, you’ll become a life-long reader and readers are normally good citizens who can act wisely.

What are some of the impacts and success stories that have made you the proudest over your years of operation?

We get a lot of amazing responses from people at schools, some of whom have never had books donated before. A principal heard about how we have more than 300 isiXhosa books and he actually drove here after school just to look at and touch them. He had tears in his eyes because he’d never seen so many books that weren’t textbooks in his mother tongue language. What a moment!

Studies have shown that boys often have significantly lower reading skills than girls at school. How can we change that, together?

We need to offer them books that cover topics that they are interested in! Boys – like girls – have a wide range of interests, but let’s make sure we have great stories about football, boxing, local heroes and so on. At Biblionef, we have six books that cover a soccer story, we have books about Nelson Mandela growing up as a herd boy as well as a children’s version of Long Walk to Freedom.

Can any public organisation apply to receive books from Biblionef?

Any children’s organisation that has a need for books in mother tongue but not the means to get them can apply. Write us a request letter! Tell us why you don’t have funds and tell us how you plan to use and care for the books when they arrive.

You have said that no area is too remote for you to get books into: that sounds like a challenge! How do you make sure that books are delivered directly into the hands of school children, no matter how far away they are?

It’s a simple plan. We pack our books in cardboard boxes with a weight of 30 kilograms or less and they’re all sent via the postal system. Each organisation is informed they must collect their books at their local post office. Believe it or not, we’ve had a 98% success rate using this system.

It’s one thing donating books, but quite another making sure that they are able to be stored and looked after. Biblionef has some ingenious storage and maintenance solutions – tell us a little more about them.

Experience has taught us that most places don’t have adequate storage space on their premises for their new book donations. Obviously, books last much longer if good quality storage space is available, so we started suggesting alternative shelving options. One of our favourite is providing steel trunks where books can be packed neatly away – they are inexpensive, transportable, sturdy, lockable and accessible. Trunks can be swapped between schools to offer a larger selection of books to more children. We also have mobile units on wheels and suggest things like suitcases, cloth bags and even bread crates!

Buying books is expensive and you note that over 85% of South Africans don’t have access to a public library. I can’t imagine not being able to pick up a book when I felt like it. What can regular people do to promote book equity in South Africa?

If you want to promote book equity in SA, you can support one of the many NPOs helping to build a culture of reading amongst children. You can visit second hand bookshops and buy books for a crèche or school or after care centre. Join a book club and share your resources with other people! Or my favourite: give children books as birthday presents and put some money inside it, so when they read it they get a nice surprise inside.

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.

Betree die wêreld van David Walliams!

David Walliams het die kinderboekwêreld stormenderhand verower. Tans is hy die grootste Britse kinderboekouteur wat die afgelope dekade gedebuteer het. Sy boeke het sover meer as 40 miljoen eksemplare in die Verenigde Koninkryk alleen verkoop, en is sover in meer as 40 tale vertaal – Afrikaans ingesluit!

Mr Stink (Mnr Stink, 2016), The Boy in the Dress (Die seun in die rok, 2017), Gangsta Granny (Ouma is ’n kroek, 2015, 2017) en Billionaire Boy (Boudebiljoenêr, 2016) is aangepas vir Britse televisie. Ratburger (Rotburger, 2015) en Demon Dentist (Die tandeterroris, 2017) het albei die National Book Awards Children’s Book of the Year in Brittanje gewen. Dit is geen verrassing dat Walliams in dieselfde asem genoem word as sy held Roald Dahl nie.

Tony Ross is ’n baie suksesvolle kinderboekillustreerder wat bekend is vir titels soos Harry the Poisonous Centipede deur Lynne Reid Banks, en die Little Wolf-reeks deur Ian Whybrow.

Quentin Blake is een van Brittanje se mees geliefde illustreerders en spotprenttekenaars. Hy is bes bekend vir sy samewerking met outeurs soos Roald Dahl, en sy illustrasies het verskeie pryse ingepalm, die Hans Christian Andersen-prys vir illustrasie ingesluit.

Kobus Geldenhuys is bekend vir sy kinderboek-vertalings van outeurs soos J.K. Rowling en Roald Dahl. In 2015 het hy die Elsabé Steenbergprys vir vertaalde kinder- en jeugliteratuur in Afrikaans ontvang vir Cressida Cowell se Hoe om jou draak te tem: Hoe om Drakonees te praat (Protea, 2014), en in 2016 is hy met die Alba Bouwerprys vir kinder- en jeugliteratuur bekroon vir sy vertaling van Michael Morpurgo se Hoekom die walvisse gekom het (Protea, 2015). Hy het by geleentheid ook Artes- en Safta-toekennings ontvang, en is verskeie kere benoem vir sy gesinchroniseerde vertalings van TV-reekse en animasiefilms vir die destydse SAUK-oorklankingsafdeling. Wanneer hy nie vertaal nie, skryf hy televisietekste vir Suid-Afrikaanse sepies en dramas soos Villa Rosa, Swartwater en Binnelanders.

Oupa ontsnap


Baie jare gelede was Oupa ’n bobaasvlieënier in die Tweede Wêreldoorlog. Maar sedertdien is hy na die ouetehuis Twilight Towers toe gestuur waar die onheilspellende matrone Swine die septer swaai. Oupa en sy kleinseun, Jack, moet ’n waaghalsige plan beraam om te ontsnap. Min weet hulle dat die bose matrone hulle fyn dophou …

“Ek is absoluut mal oor David Walliams se boeke. Hulle gaan klassieke werke word.” – Sue Townsend, Guardian

“Uiteindelik ’n waardige opvolger vir Dahl.” – Telegraph


2018 Media24 Books prize winners announced

Investigative journalist Jacques Pauw and Cape Town writer and poet Ken Barris were among the recipients of the 2018 Media24 Books prizes awarded in Cape Town on Thursday, 14 June 2018.

The Media24 Books prizes are awarded annually for books published by the Media24 Books division and Jonathan Ball Publishers, also part of Media24, in the preceding year. This year, prizes to a combined value of more than R200 000 were awarded in six categories.

Jacques Pauw won the Recht Malan prize for nonfiction for The President’s Keepers, published by NB Publishers under the Tafelberg imprint. According to the judges, The President’s Keepers will be remembered, along with #GuptaLeaks, for the change it brought about in South African society and the ANC. “The power of The President’s Keepers lies partly in the explosive revelations it makes, but mostly in that for the first time a broad-based narrative connected the dots between the private and public interests propping up Zuma at all costs. South Africans live in a better country today than a mere eight months ago, partly thanks to Pauw.”

The other titles on the nonfiction shortlist were How to Steal a City by Crispian Olver and Khwezi: The Story of Fezekile Kuzwayo by Redi Tlhabi.

The Herman Charles Bosman prize for English fiction went to Ken Barris for The Life of Worm and Other Misconceptions, a short story collection published by Kwela. The judges called it an extraordinary collection that combines the mundane with the surreal in illuminating but often deeply unsettling ways. It is a collection that keeps the reader “constantly intrigued, amused, repelled and acutely aware of South African realities”.

Also on the fiction shortlist were I am Pandarus by Michiel Heyns and Being Kari by Qarnita Loxton.

Novelist Eben Venter won the WA Hofmeyr prize for Afrikaans fiction for the fifth time with Groen soos die hemel daarbo, published by Tafelberg. The novel, which explores modern sexuality, intimacy and identity, was lauded by the judges for its finely honed style of writing. The other books on the shortlist were Die wêreld van Charlie Oeng by Etienne van Heerden and As in die mond by Nicole Jaekel Strauss.

Marlene van Niekerk received the Elisabeth Eybers prize for Afrikaans and English poetry for In die stille agterkamer, ekphrastic verses about the paintings of Dutch painter Jan Mankes (1889–1920). The collection, published by Human & Rousseau, was described by the judges as “a gripping yet meditative reading experience”. Also shortlisted were Nou, hier by Corné Coetzee, Radbraak by Jolyn Phillips and Alles het niet kom wôd by Nathan Trantraal.

The MER prize for youth novels was awarded to Carin Krahtz for Blou is nie ’n kleur nie (Tafelberg), while the MER prize for illustrated children’s books went to writer Rosamund Haden and illustrator Tony Pinchuck for The All Africa Wildlife Express.

The judges were: For the Recht Malan prize: Jean Meiring, Elsa van Huyssteen and Pauli van Wyk; for the Herman Charles Bosman prize: Johan Jacobs, Molly Brown and Ann Donald; for the WA Hofmeyr prize: Francois Smith, Sonja Loots and Kerneels Breytenbach; for the Elisabeth Eybers prize: Henning Pieterse, Bibi Slippers and Charl-Pierre Naudé; for the MER prize for youth novels: Nanette van Rooyen, Henriëtte Linde-Loubser and Betsie van der Westhuizen; and for the MER prize for illustrated children’s books: Piet Grobler, Marjorie van Heerden and Magdel Vorster.

The President's Keepers

Book details

How To Steal A City




The Life of Worm


I am Pandarus


Being Kari


Groen soos die hemel daarbo


Die wêreld van Charlie Oeng


As in die Mond


In die stille agterkamer


Nou, hier




Alles het niet kom wôd


Blou is nie 'n kleur nie


All Africa Wildlife Express