Speech by Deputy Minister Mabudafhasi on occasion of the 5th Funda Mzantsi Championship at George Civic Centre in George, Western Cape

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06 Oct 2014

Programme director

Honourable Deputy Minister of Correctional Services, Mr Thabang Makwetla;

Your Worship the Mayor of George Local Municipality, Cllr Charles Standers;

Acting National Commissioner of Correctional Services, Zach Modise;

National Librarian and CEO of the National Library of South Africa, Professor Rocky Ralebipi-Simela;

Representative of the Western Cape Department of Education;

Reverend Mzukisi Faleni;

Members of the Correctional Services inmates and Schools Book Clubs;

Officials from all spheres of Government;

Members of the media;

Ladies and gentlemen


Good afternoon, Molweni!!!

It is fitting to officially open this momentous 5th Funda Mzantsi Championship with the words of the iconic, world renowned poet, writer and human rights activist, the late Maya Angelou,

“Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him”.

These words should sound a call to South Africans from all walks of life, more so considering the findings of the research commissioned by the South African Book Development Council to assess the reading habits of adult South Africans.

The study showed that only 14% of South Africans are active book readers and a mere 5% of parents read to their children. It further indicated that 51% of households in South Africa did not have a single book in their home.

The initiatives such as the Funda Mzantsi Championship which is spearheaded by the Centre for the Book, an Outreach Unit of the National Library of South Africa responsible for promoting reading, writing and publishing in all local languages and ensuring access to books should serve as a game changer in terms of active book reading.

Our partnership with the Department of Correctional Services is of pivotal importance as it continues to encourage the formation of book clubs across the country in order to inculcate a culture of book reading targeting youth. This partnership will further assist the Department of Correctional Services to implement the idea of reading for redemption at their correctional facilities.

Through the Arts Access programme, working together with the Department of Correctional Services, we will continue to promote arts, culture and heritage participation in Correctional Facilities, to empower the inmates in the arts which have the potential for self-sustainability post-incarceration and rehabilitation while under correctional supervision, in particular youth, women, and people with disabilities.

A widespread culture of reading and writing will assist us as a nation to meet the demands of developing a knowledgeable society and advance the contribution of the book sector in the country’s economy.

The importance of reading in order to achieve success is fundamental for individuals and essential for nation building and social cohesion.

As the Department of Arts and Culture, we are committed to the preservation, development and promotion of South African literature in all its forms and genres.

South Africa has 11 Official Languages.  We are conscious of promoting the nine indigenous South African languages to give equity to them and encourage writers to write in these languages.

In support of a literary culture that fosters inclusivity, we will continue to work with the National Library of South Africa to identify and reprint books regarded as literary classics in South African languages. The project was first launched in February 2008, with 27 books.

A Committee to oversee the reprint of the Classics was established.  One of the books, “Ityala lamawele” by SEK Mqhayi is a hundred years old this year.  To date a total of 77 titles have been reprinted in all the nine indigenous languages. The books are distributed via community libraries for access by the public.

In the month of September, together with the South African Book Development Council (SABDC), we embarked on the National Book Week under the theme “Going Places”. This theme reflected not only the physical journey of travelling deep into South Africa but it also reflected the magic of books and how reading books can ‘figuratively’ and ‘literally’ take you places.

A book has the power to take you to different places, in different eras; it can motivate one and grow one’s knowledge.

For the first time ever, the National Book Week introduced a travelling bus which transported ambassadors, motivational speakers, authors, storytellers and a toy library to provinces across the country.

As part of celebrating 20 years of Democracy, we launched a book called “Twenty in 20”.   This book’s aim was to identify and collect the best South African Short Stories of the past two decades.

These stories have been put together in an anthology that pays tribute to the Twenty Years of Freedom and Democracy in our country.

This book will further inspire aspiring writers and will provide reading pleasure to many generations. It provides an interesting sample of the multicultural writing of South Africans with varied themes launched as a new compilation.

I also had the privilege of leading the South African delegation attending the International Federation of Library Association (IFLA) congress and assembly in Lyon, France and to deliver the invitation speech inviting delegates to the IFLA 2015 to be hosted in Cape Town.  

Still in September, the Library and Information Association of South Africa (LIASA) hosted their 16th annual conference under the theme “Celebrating Libraries in 20 years of democracy: continuing the dialogue.”

National and international library and information practitioners attended the conference to discuss amongst others key issues such as: a culture of reading, early childhood development, youth empowerment, socio-economic development and e-governance thereby locating them in the heart of communities. 

The late president of Tanzania, Dr Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere, from his book Uhuru na Maendeleo (Freedom and Development), said:

“Intellectuals have a special contribution to make to the development of our nation, and to Africa. And I am asking that their knowledge, and the greater understanding that they should possess, should be used for the benefit of the society of which we are all members."

In pursuit of promoting national identity, nation building and social cohesion as well as to instil the spirit of patriotism, we continue to roll out the Flag in every School programme.

This programme entails the decorum hoisting of the National Flag, the etiquette of singing the National Anthem, the recital of the Preamble of the Constitution by the learners, distribution of the South African hand flags and publications on national symbols as well as the CD Tool Kit on how to sing the National Anthem.

I would like to wish all the Correctional Services inmates and schools’ book clubs well in the championship.

I declare the 5th Funda Mzantsi championship under the theme: “Developing Creative Minds: Celebrating 20 Years of Democracy: Tell your story that moves South Africa forward”, officially opened, let the battle of reading and festival of ideas begin.

In conclusion, I would like to thank my colleague, brother and comrade, the honourable Deputy Minister of Correctional Services, Mr Thabang Makwetla, for the partnership as we inculcate a culture of reading.

I also wish to thank the Western Cape Department of Education, our host the Mayor of George Local Municipality, Cllr Charles Standers, the National Librarian and CEO of the National Library of South Africa, Professor Rocky Ralebipi-Simela,the leadership of the Centre for the Book and everyone involved in ensuring that we continue to tell a story that moves South Africa forward.

 I thank you