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13-year-old Praises Banda has been announced as the winner of Nal'ibali's 2018 Story Bosso contest!

Via Nal’ibali

Praises Banda, a 13-year-old Grade 7 pupil from Leboho Primary School in Limpopo, has been announced as 2018′s Story Bosso winner!

 
Story Bosso is a multilingual storytelling contest designed to provide aspiring storytellers with an opportunity to showcase their talent and to promote storytelling in all official South African languages. It’s an initiative of South Africa’s national-reading-for-enjoyment campaign, Nal’ibali.

The theme for this year’s talent search was ‘South African Heroes’. By remembering and telling the stories of our heroes, the campaign aimed to inspire greatness in all South African children.

Says Jade Jacobsohn, Nal’ibali Managing Director:

“Heroes guide us about how to live our lives; they give us hope and motivate us to overcome challenges. We were blown away by young Praises Banda from Ga-Kibi, Dankie Village, in Limpopo, as her story, skillfully told in her home language Sepedi, did exactly that.”

Told with both sadness and passion, Banda’s story is about her personal hero, Kholofelo Sasebola, who put an end to the bullying she endured at school.

“The sadness in Praises’ voice is palpable. You can tell the bullying was traumatic, but, at the same time, you can hear her passion for celebrating the deed of her hero. Her command of Sepedi is commendable. Though the story is told in simple sentences, Praises uses the language playfully, and the story is easy to understand,” comments Lorato Trok, Story Bosso judge and children’s story development expert.

Storytelling is an important part of South African heritage and plays a key role in children’s literacy development by encouraging the use of imagination, curiosity, and empathy.

More than 50 special storytelling events were held across the country throughout September to allow members of the public to practice and build their storytelling skills before entering the contest.

Banda’s story was selected from over two thousand entries and, as this year’s Story Bosso, she will be receiving R5 000, a book hamper, and R500 worth of airtime.

A further five prizes will be awarded to provincial winners. Thabiso Khoeli from the Free State; Sibongile Mofokeng from Gauteng; Afika Cwecwe from the Eastern Cape; Mandisa Madlala from KwaZulu-Natal and Mbalentle Mangete from the Western Cape will each receive R1 000, a book hamper as well as R250 of airtime.

“Stories need to be valued for the critical contribution they play in the development of young minds. They help build neural circuits in our brains, particularly in young brains, that ultimately enable sophisticated thinking and reasoning,” says Jacobsohn.

“We know that well told stories – where a word may be a snarl, a shout, a whisper, or a cry – can be a colourful trail of chocolate Smarties that lead children to books! Those bonding moments of sharing stories with children help to root the seeds of a culture of reading into South African homes. We are proud of all of our winners this year for showing us what good storytelling can be,” concludes Jacobsohn.

To listen to the winning stories, or to find out more about Story Bosso and the Nal’ibali campaign, visit the Nal’ibali website on www.nalibali.org.

Rob Rose's Steinheist exposes the greed, plunder and betrayal behind the Steinhoff crash

The Steinhoff crash wiped more than R200bn off the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, erased more than half the wealth of tycoon Christo Wiese and knocked the pension funds of millions of ordinary South Africans.

When this investors’ darling was exposed as a house of cards, tales of fraudulent accounting, a lavish lifestyle involving multimillion-rand racehorses and ructions in the ‘Stellenbosch mafia’ made headlines around the world.

As regulators tally up the cost, Financial Mail editor Rob Rose reveals the real inside story behind Steinhoff. Based on dozens of interviews with key players in South Africa, the UK, Germany and the Netherlands – and documents not yet public – Steinheist reveals:

• How Bruno Steinhoff formed the company by doing business in the Communist bloc and apartheid South Africa;
• How the ‘Markus myth’ started in the dusty streets of Ga-Rankuwa and grew thanks to a ‘bit of luck’ in a 1998 takeover;
• How Jooste insiders shifted nasty liabilities off Steinhoff’s balance sheet to secretive companies overseas in order to present a false picture of the profits;
• How Wiese was lucky to lose only R59bn and how Shoprite narrowly escaped getting caught in Steinhoff’s web; and
• What happened behind closed boardroom doors in the frantic week before Jooste resigned.

‘An astonishing piece of investigative journalism, exposing greed, plunder and betrayal on a grand scale.’ Jacques Pauw

‘The driving narrative is vintage Rose. That’s because he knows what he’s talking about. Markus Jooste will absolutely hate this book.’ Peter Bruce

‘Reads like a fast-paced manuscript to the movie which must be made.’ Bruce Whitfield

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Award-winning journalist Rob Rose is editor of the Financial Mail. He has worked for Business Day and at the Sunday Times as an investigative journalist and as Business Times editor. His first book was The Grand Scam: How Barry Tannenbaum Conned South Africa’s Business Elite.

Book details

"Poetry has a unique way of humanising the players in a political story" - a Q&A with slam poet and performer Siphokazi Jonas

Nal’ibali Column 29: Term 4, 2018

Sunday World 4 November 2018, Daily Dispatch 5 November 2018, Herald 8 November 2018

By Carla Lever

Slam poet par excellence, Siphokazi Jonas

 
Your poetry engages very deliberately with political and personal questions of identity. What kinds of ideas are you most passionate about spreading through it?

It’s all about the importance of autonomy in telling your story. I’m really interested in writing about and staging narratives which are not seen regularly, particularly about the lives of black women.

Do you think that there’s a space for poetry to reach people politically where newspaper reports or debate can’t? How can we all use or be open to that space?

Absolutely – poetry has a unique way of humanising the players in a political story. There is room for publishing poetry in newspapers and other media which could widen the scope of who has access to our work.

We come from a long history of protest poetry – literature, storytelling, theatre and so on. But now, it feels like there is a generational shift: a group of passionate young people who are ready to make their own political points outside of the traditionally political works of the past. Does this feel to you like a good time to be a young poet?

This is a fantastic time to be a poet! The shifts happen as politics and concerns change. Poetry gives us a platform not only to wrestle with past and present but also to engage with an imagined future.

Sometimes, no matter how familiar we are with a work, we can still read something and have a strong emotional reaction to it. Can you give us a couple of lines of your own poetry that still hit home for you?

Sure. Here’s an extract from my poem Making Bread:
Every December, in exchange for Tupperware full of roosterkoek
Tried over coals, I present uMama with English poems
To match the decadence of the season.
(English, with its heavy hand of sugar, corrodes my vernacular,
English poems do not let me forget that the bowl I work in is borrowed)
.

It’s always a challenge to get work out into the public, particularly as a poet. In 2016 you released some of your poetry in a very unusual format: a DVD. Can you tell us a little about why you did that and how it’s been received?

The DVD was to capture the verve and fire of spoken word which often disappears once you leave the stage. Although the work was received well, we didn’t quite account for the move away from physical DVDs and CDs – the best platforms for distribution are now online.

You’ve had some great successes in big slam poetry competitions. What has been the most exciting experience for you?

Slam is quiet a competitive format of performance and poses a challenge to the poet because of all the rules and time constraints placed on a performance. My favourite thing is how the slams tend to feel like collaborations instead of competitions.

I first encountered your work when you performed with the ‘Rioters in Session’ poetry collective. Can you tell us a little about them?

I’ve had the pleasure of being part of a number of their performances, though I’m not officially part of their collective. In their own words, Rioters in Session was “organized [as] an intuitive community for POC poetry womxn to share their work in a soft and safe space with a gentle audience”.

Why is it important for poets, storytellers, performers to have spaces to share their work and for people to be able to share and discuss it together? What does sharing stories do for communities of people?

We have an incredible history of storytelling and poetry in this country which has been integral as a way of archiving history, holding communities together, holding leaders accountable, protesting injustice, etc. I believe that we are seeing the same in the contemporary moment.

How can we encourage young people to get involved with poetry and storytelling? Are there resources or organisations you could direct them to?

The best way is to read poetry and also watch material online, follow poetry houses on social media such as Hear My Voice, Word and Sound, Poetry Africa, Poet in a Suit, Inzync Poetry, Grounding Sessions, Current State of Poetry, Words in My Mouth Poetry Slam. If there are no existing book clubs or poetry groups, start them right where you are!

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: www.nalibali.org.

Sisonke Msimang's The Resurrection of Winnie Mandela is an astute examination of one of SA’s most controversial political figures

The death of Winnie Madikizela Mandela on 2 April this year unleashed a hailstorm of opinion.

On one side, her legacy was cast by the media and public in the shadow of her sanctified ex-husband. Winnie was history’s loser. She was damaged goods; Nelson Mandela was whole and pure.

A younger generation, in particular women, took a different view and so a battle of ideas began that sought to reframe Winnie’s career and reclaim her identity as an extraordinary woman and fierce political activist.

Sisonke Msimang, an acclaimed author and public commentator, wasted little time in jumping into the fray.

And when the dust settled, what emerged is this short but razor-sharp book which reflects critically on the turbulent yet remarkable life of Winnie.

Msimang situates her political career and legacy in the contemporary context, what she means today in social and political terms, by exploring different aspects of her iconic persona.

The Resurrection of Winnie Mandela is an astute examination of one of South Africa’s most controversial political figures, of the rise and fall – and rise, again, – of a woman who not only battled the apartheid regime, but the patriarchal character of the struggle itself.

In telling Winnie’s story, Msimang shows us that activism matters, and that the meaning of women’s lives can be reclaimed.

SISONKE MSIMANG currently lives in Perth, Australia, where she is Programme Director for the Centre for Stories.

She is regularly in South Africa where she continues to speak and comment on current affairs.

Sisonke has degrees from Macalester College, Minnesota and the University of Cape Town, is a Yale World Fellow, an Aspen New Voices Fellow, and was a Ruth First Fellow at the University of the Witwatersrand.

She regularly contributes to The Guardian, The Daily Maverick and The New York Times.

Her first book, Always Another Country, was shortlisted for the Sunday Times Alan Paton Award for 2018.

Book details

Magical, inspirational, life-affirming – notes on the 12th Book Dash, held in Johannesburg

By Anna Stroud

Photographer Urvesh Rama was there from start to finish, capturing all the action. Visit Book Dash on Facebook for more images.

 
Energy crackled in the air – the kind that makes every hair on your body jig, from your nose to your toes.

It’s a powerful sensation watching nine teams brainstorm, craft and chisel away to create nine beautiful children’s books in less than 12 hours. And that’s exactly what happened on Saturday, 27 October, as volunteers drove into the heart of Johannesburg to participate in the 12th edition of Book Dash.

The Streetlight Schools in Jeppestown was the perfect home for the Book Dash crew. The schools started in October 2013 in a small store-room in Bjala Square and their aim is to create globally competitive schools in the most underserved areas in South Africa.

In 2016, they launched the flagship Streetlight Schools: Jeppe Park where we hung our hats for the day. Judging from the drawings on the wall and the wholesome menu on the blackboard, it’s a nice, caring place to learn.

The nine teams of three – writer, illustrator and designer, plus one editor for two teams – experienced that care first hand. The school’s support staff kept us fed, hydrated and happy as we worked our way to the finish line.

“Everything we do today is a gift to the world,” said Book Dash founder Arthur Attwell at the start of the day, while his six-year-old son (and unofficial Book Dash cheerleader) beamed at us from across the room.

Book Dash originated in 2014 from the founders’ belief that each child should own 100 books by the age of five. The books are available for free under the Creative Commons Attribution licence and in all 11 official South African languages.

The Book Dash model has been replicated by various groups in and outside South Africa, and the Android app recently hit just over 100 000 downloads worldwide!

This 12th edition was made possible by the Otto Foundation Trust, which allows Book Dash to print and distribute the books.

One of the reasons why I volunteered as a Book Dash editor is the feeling of positivity and goodwill that permeates the room.

Throughout the day, the love spreads from writer to editor, designer to illustrator, facilitator to support staff, barista to photographer to videographer, and back again, like a never-ending cycle of good vibes. (Yes, we had our own barista!)

In the morning, all the writers and editors gathered in the library to read their stories aloud and to give each other feedback. I’ve never experienced such an affirming group of people, who gave each other advice on how to make their stories better and built each other up every step of the way.

It wasn’t an easy feat.

As the day progressed, illustrators’ hands started to cramp, designers started to see double, writers and editors went back and fro with coffee, snacks and kind words to motivate them to the finish line.

Then the final stretch: proofreading for wayward punctuation, frowning at fonts with their own free will, and watching the clock count down to the final minutes.

And then – sweet release – the work was done and we could bask in each other’s glory.

The teams took to the stage and the writers read their stories aloud to roaring applause. The final book caused all the tired creatives to collapse in fits of laughter: somewhere in the night, a car backfired just as one writer read the line: “What’s that noise behind the tree?”

The books will be available soon – but here’s a sneak preview of the magical titles that came to life during the day:

• I don’t want to go to sleep!
• The Great Cake Contest
• The very tired lioness
• Dance, Mihlali!
• Let’s have an inside day!
• Mali’s Friend
• Auntie Boi’s Gift
• Lions are always brave
• What’s at the park?

To experience some of the magic, follow the hashtag #BookDash for live coverage on the day or visit their website to find out how you can get involved.

"It’s vital that children growing up in harsh environments can imagine worlds beyond those harsh realities" - a Q&A with speculative fiction author, Mandisi Nkomo

Nal’bali Column 28: Term 4, 2018

By Carla Lever

Mandisi Nkomo

 
What’s the place of speculative fiction – a broader term than science fiction that covers everything from superheroes to fantasy – in Africa right now?

It’s a big scene, just somewhat underground! Apart from certain big names that have managed to break into the pop culture hive mind, there’s a ridiculous amount of African Spec Fic around if you’re willing to dig. I can’t even keep up.

You have said that your writing is influenced by pop tech – highly visual, graphic forms of storytelling in videogames, comic books, anime and so on. What kind of feeling does this give your work?

At first it was more about creating a strong sense of the kind of mood that often comes with a lot of audio-visual platforms, or even taking the weird fiction path where plot takes a backseat in favour of cinematography, music, themes and surrealism. It’s taken a bit of a new turn recently though. Now I’m working on something where I’m building a whole story world around gameplay ideas, like ammo drops.

Another really interesting thing about your work is how it draws from real, often underrepresented, African histories. So, for instance, you’ve made references to the Namibian border war, the TRC, corruption. How can speculative fiction help us to understand or re-process our own worlds?

Most speculative fiction is about understanding or re-processing our own worlds. Authors just choose how much real life influence they want to give readers as clues to what they’re actually discussing in their work. George Orwell’s Animal Farm for example, was set in an almost childlike fantasy world of talking animals, but was actually an way to talk about very serious world issues.

Afrofuturism is very trendy worldwide right now, particularly with the success of Black Panther. But imagining an African knowledge system that has power and commands global respect is something that many are trying to do with the decolonisation project. Have you found there are links that writers are able to make where business people and politicians often can’t?

Definitely! Business people and politicians are not necessarily taught to push creativity and imagination when problem-solving.

Do you think that being able to imagine worlds differently is a skill that we should encourage all our children to develop through reading more?

I really do. It assists with problem-solving and increases your ability to think outside certain norms or embedded cultures. From a South African perspective, it’s vital that children growing up in harsh environments can imagine worlds beyond those harsh realities.

What’s the best way to keep up to date with your latest writing?

I keep my website up to date whenever I get published, and post updates regularly on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I’ve also started a Patreon page, where I plan to self-publish writing exclusives for paying patrons.

https://thedarkcow.com/
• Facebook: @darkcowproductions
• Instagram: @mandisithepolymath
• Twitter: @mandisinkomo
https://www.patreon.com/thedarkcow

What online resources are out there for fans of African speculative fiction who might not have access to published books?

The African Speculative Fiction Society is an excellent source. They maintain a list of African Speculative Fiction from novels to works readily available online: http://www.africansfs.com/resources/published

Why is telling – and reading – our own stories in Africa so important?

Well, for one, history tends to be written by the victors, but now we have this little thing called the internet which is making it harder to erase underrepresented voices. And, as you mentioned, with the rise in popularity of things like Black Panther, we have to make an effort to not get written out of the narrative by those with more money and influence.

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: www.nalibali.org.