It is often noticed that African literature bookshelves are among the least stocked in bookstores. Keletso Moshoeshoe is a B.A Communications graduate, an Afro-optimist and children’s authoress.
Her passion for writing children’s storybooks comes from her struggles in primary and high school and her inability to fit in because of a language barrier between her and her peers.
Being a Sesotho-speaking person from Bloemfontein in a predominantly Xhosa school in the Eastern Cape when she was younger made her feel like a social pariah.
She eventually had to learn to communicate with her peers by picking up the local vernacular language in the streets as there was no one to teach her.
She spoke to Bloemfontein Courant about the story behind her multilingual children’s story-book, A visit to Grandfather’s farm.
The book, written for kids in grades 3 and 4, contains African folk tales in English, Sesotho, Afrikaans as well as isiZulu and is based on two African proverbs.
It is aimed at 9 to 10-year-olds due to the fact that it is an important time in their cognitive development. At this stage they are learning to understand the world better.
The book therefore promotes the diverse cultures and languages found within South Africa. This ensures they understand the true meaning of a rainbow nation. It is also generally easier for kids to grasp new and different languages when they’re younger.
The 25-year-old Communication graduate says there are not a lot of books to encourage multilingual reading and her book is aimed at doing this.
When it comes to African storytelling, she says: “African folk telling is one of the existing and oldest forms of conveying events in words, sound or images, often by improvisation around a fire, classroom reading lessons, parent-to-child bedtime stories or self-leisure reading.”
Keletso says that her goals are to educate kids, preserve culture and instill moral values with this self-published book. She has managed to supply a number of books through the Free State Library in addition to one bookstore in the Gauteng region thus far.
Her plans are to distribute her book at some disadvantaged schools in and around Bloemfontein as well. She hopes to secure a distribution deal through provincial libraries in other provinces too.
She added that she has begun working on her second children’s book and the next edition will cover the subject matter of rhino poaching.
“We should actually look into empowering kids into protecting animal life,” she said. – Moeketsi Mogotsi