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Youth Day commemoration inspires future authors

by Itumeleng Mpete on 2024-06-25T11:34:10+02:00 | 0 Comments
On 18 June 2024, Unisa Library and Information Services (LIS), in collaboration with the Moretele Local Municipality, celebrated Youth Day at the Mphebatho Public Library with a series of engaging activities and discussions designed to inspire the next generation of writers.


Attendees at the Mphebatho Community Library

The event began with a warm welcome and an opening prayer, followed by Dr Daniel Mosako from LIS indicating the purpose of the celebrations. He emphasised the importance of leaving a modern legacy, drawing a connection between the oral storytelling traditions of our grandparents and today’s digital technology that preserves these stories. He highlighted the plan to transcribe these stories into English for publication and teach schoolchildren how to write fiction and fairy tales, highlighting that everyone is an artist from a young age. He encouraged writing from personal experience rather than solely focusing on academia.

Kamogelo Malope from Sekitla Secondary School then fascinated the audience with a poem titled “My Teacher”. Gagolepe Madumo, an Unisa alumnus, then shared her inspiring journey as a Unisa student. Despite initial challenges, she managed to study at Unisa through a bursary. She urged learners not to procrastinate and emphasised the valuable resources available at the Unisa Library and within the Moretele community, encouraging them to consider studying librarianship.


Prof Mpho Ngoepe, Executive Director of LIS

The keynote speaker, Professor Mpho Ngoepe, Executive Director of LIS, captivated the audience by reciting the Ngoepe praise poem, setting the tone for a profound discussion on the intricacies of writing a book. Ngoepe emphasised the critical importance of knowing your clan, especially when engaging in the writing process. He highlighted the unique challenges and immense significance of writing in indigenous languages, pointing out that “mastering English is not a measure of intelligence”.

Ngoepe delivered a compelling address in Northern Sotho, encouraging learners and local authors to embrace their African languages. He emphasised the significance of preserving cultural identity through written expression. To illustrate his point, he shared a poignant African proverb: “If you put a stick in the water for 100 years, it will never become a crocodile”. This vivid analogy served as a poignant reminder of the timeless value of cultural heritage and the necessity of upholding linguistic diversity.

Ngoepe pointed out that rural areas often lack access to authentic information except in libraries and highlighted the United Nations’ stance that no one should be left behind. He underscored the need to make indigenous books more accessible and affordable, acknowledging the publishing challenges due to the limited number of publishers for African languages. He encouraged aspiring authors to write with an end in mind, focusing on creating stories with exploration, climax and resolution, and establishing their own style. He concluded by inviting those interested in writing short stories to enlist their names and submit pieces limited to six pages.

Letitia Lekay, manager of the Unisa Midlands Regional Libraries, spoke about Unisa Libraries’ mission to groom learners early on, encouraging them to choose Unisa as their preferred institution. She expressed hope for a partnership with Moretele Libraries and presented two sample books written in Setswana and Sepedi to Mphebatho Community Library head librarian, Senyatsi Mochitela. The books will be donated to the Mphebatho Library by the Unisa Department of Information Science.

The role of provincial libraries, including Moretele Library, was highlighted by Levy Segone from the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture, in ensuring effective service delivery. The department has partnered with the State Technology Information Agency and the Department of Education to roll out services to all libraries in the region. Moretele Library’s commitment of engaging its branches to ensure uniformity in services was acknowledged. The library has a writing department, but books in Setswana have previously been underutilised and gathered dust. The Northwest Writers Forum in each district offers an opportunity for librarians to experience book displays and select or recommend books for their libraries. Collaboration with the National Library of South Africa, and now Unisa, was recognised as a positive step, leading to total engagement from learners.

Nthabiseng Nola from Sempapa Secondary School then recited a poem titled “Thinking of Holiday”. The event concluded with a prayer by Pastor David Sarela, followed by an opportunity for further networking. This collaboration aims to benefit the Moretele community and neighbouring schools by providing alternative recreational activities and fostering a culture of reading and writing. It was stated that Bojanala District Municipality is particularly fortunate as it is exposed to so many enriching opportunities.


* By Mokgadi Senyolo and Mpho Masingi, Unisa Library and Information Services

** Photography by Mduduzi Khathamzi

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