Publisher pushes indigenous lingo

2016-09-15 06:00

A small African Publishing House from Cape Town attended the Jozi Book Fair (JBF) last weekend.

It’s an educational and cultural festival for people of all ages and backgrounds aiming at deepening the culture of reading and writing in all South Africa’s languages and was hosted by Khanya College and Wits University, Johannesburg.

Saliwa Publishers was established years ago with the aim of developing and promoting the African languages.

Saliwa Publishers Founder and CEO, Ncebakazi Saliwa said she was happy to be there at Jozi Book Fair and it’s the kind of Fair that should be held in all provinces as a way of promoting literature development and encourage budding authors to write even more and allow existing authors to showcase their work.

“The English books still dominate the fair and kids who come to the fair preferred English books than African language books. One of the activities to be included in the book festivals is a workshop on the importance of mother tongue which should be run for both parents and children. The parents are often their ones who encourage their children to focus on English which is seen as a language of empowerment. The books play a role in the development of a child but festivals and libraries are vehicles of showcasing such books. Therefore such festivals should be held in our communities or in places that are accessible to our people. Jozi Book is free which makes it accessible to everyone,” she says.

She emphasised that the African languages are still suppressed by the big commercial publishers and they’re reluctant to publish the books in the African languages because it’s not their market.

Other small publishers and self-publishers from various provinces had exhibited and it was exciting opportunity for them to showcase their work also sell their books One self-published author whom refused to be named said most commercial bookshops like Exclusive Books refused to sell her books because it’s written by a black person and she’s happy to be there and some of her books. At her stall Ncebakazi displayed various children’s books written by various authors, Nonceba Tuntulwana, Tsepo Mohale, Nobuhle Ndungane , Martha Nonkqubela Qumba and. Ncebakazi Saliwa. She also launched two children’s book, Petsa Yamihlolo by Tsepo Mohale from Matatiel, Eastern Cape and How Whitey is different from Blackie by Martha Nonkqubela Qumba from Cape Town. At Tsepo’s one the kids were sitting and listening attentively while he was reading from his book.

In between he was using various examples for them to understand the content of his book. and Saliwa Publishers was happy to see many black kids being so much expressive and engaging. At Martha’s launch the white kids with their parents immediately marched out and only black kids were left inside.

There were a tent with various interesting programs and entertainment like gum boots dance, plays, poems, singing and story-telling and the launching of the children’s book. These kids from different backgrounds were laughing, screaming and jumping up and down with excitement.

Ncebakazi said she was happy to see most kids at the fair also Jozi Book Fair was a space a great space she has marketed the books well , sold some and achieved a lot of networking which will help to expand her business.

“The translated books of Nonceba Tuntulwana called Izicengcelezo zaBantwana zamaNdulo, Frogs and Cats sold a lot because the children could associate with them. I sold more English books because most kids who’re there were from multiracial schools,” she says.

She felt Jozi Book fair was an excellent space especially for the small publishing house like hers because the big commercial book fairs like the Cape Town Book fair are dominated by big publishers and mainly international publishers.

“They have a financial market to market their books which we don’t have. That’s why there was only one big pubisher in the Jozi Book Fair. Most of all in most time the departments of education favour them over us,” says Ncebakazi.

Noloyiso Mamkeli, a parent said Jozi Book Far is important however the children must be encouraged to attend it.

Khanya College director Oupa Lehulere who supported the small publishers said he was happy to see children’s books in different languages.

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