The story was created by Mbali Kgame (author), Magriet Brink and Leo Daly (illustrators) and translated by Kholisa Podile.
Scroll down to download a PDF in English, isiZulu, isiXhosa, Sesotho, and Afrikaans.
Read the story in English here:
One Saturday morning Zinhle asked her mother, “Mama, why doesn’t my hair grow down like my friends’ hair? Their hair flies about when they skip.
It looks so pretty! It makes me sad that my hair doesn’t move like that. It just stays still!” “Your hair may be different from your friends’ hair, but it’s just as beautiful as theirs!” said Mama.Zinhle made a sad face, but her mama just smiled at her. “Look around you, Zinhle,” she said.
“Your hair grows from the roots up, like the trees and plants. It’s also round and big, just like the earth we live on. You can play around with it too and make beautiful patterns and shapes in it. Your hair is magical – and that is special!”
These words made Zinhle happy. She ran outside to tell her friends about her magical hair.
But when she told Zongi and Sindi what Mama had said, they just looked at each other, and burst out laughing. “How can hair be magic?” asked Zongi.“Ha-ha-ha!” laughed Sindi. “Don’t joke like that, Zinhle! Magic? Never!” Zinhle’s eyes filled with tears, but she didn’t cry.
She didn’t want Zongi and Sindi to laugh at her again. Just then, the girls saw Gogo waving to them. She was standing in her doorway nearby.“Look, Gogo’s calling us,” said Zinhle.
The three children loved helping Gogo. She told them lots of stories and gave them dried fruit every time they visited her.So Zinhle, Zongi and Sindi hurried to find out why Gogo was calling them. “I’m not well today,” said Gogo.I want to send you to kwaNtuli to get some medicine.” The children were sad to hear that Gogo wasn’t well and agreed to go and get her some medicine.
“I’ll draw you a map so you won’t get lost,” said Gogo. “The map will lead you to Baba Ntuli’s place, and he’ll give you some herbs.” Then Gogo went inside to find paper and a pencil to draw the map. She looked in her drawer, but she couldn’t find any paper. “I’ll have to make another plan,” she said.
She looked carefully at each of the girls. Then she said, “Zinhle, you have very beautiful hair. It looks strong. I will braid cornrows to make a map in your hair. The map will help you get to kwaNtuli.” Gogo sat on her favourite red chair, and Zinhle sat on the mat in front of her. Gogo braided Zinhle’s hair.
The other girls watched eagerly. As Gogo combed and braided different patterns, Zongi and Sindi were amazed by the length of Zinhle’s hair.“Wow! Your mama is right,” said Sindi. “Your hair really IS magical! It looks so short, but it’s longer than you think!” “It’s true,” said Zongi. “It’s a big surprise!”
Zinhle smiled at them happily. When Gogo had finished braiding Zinhle’s hair, the cornrows looked just like a map to guide the children to kwaNtuli! As they walked along the narrow paths through the veld, Zongi and Sindi often stopped and studied Zinhle’s hair to make sure that they were still going in the right direction. While they walked, they sang a song they had made up:
“Gogo’s not well, Gogo’s not well. We’re going to kwaNtuli, we’re going to fetch herbs – herbs to make Gogo well!” The children finally arrived at kwaNtuli. There Baba Ntuli gave them two packets of herbs for Gogo. On their way home the girls again used Zinhle’s cornrow map to guide them.
When they arrived safely at Gogo’s house, they gave her the medicine. The next morning, Zinhle, Zongi and Sindi went to Gogo’s house to see if she was better. When they arrived, they found her watering her garden.
“Good morning, my children,” said Gogo with a big smile. “I’m feeling much stronger today, all thanks to you!” The girls were happy to hear that they had helped Gogo, but they were thinking about something else too. “Gogo, would you please braid my hair the same way you did Zinhle’s hair?” asked Sindi.
“Mine too, please!” said Zongi. “Of course,” said Gogo. “Come inside.”
During news time at school the next morning, the three friends told their class all about their magic hairstyles. At break, they had just started skipping when some children asked to see their cornrows that made a map to kwaNtuli. “It really is magic,” said someone, and everyone else agreed.
To read the story in another language, download a PDF below:
Umlingo wezinwele (IsiZulu)
UZinhle wayekuthanda ukweqa ingqathu enkundleni yokudlala nabangani bakhe oSindi noZongi. Kunento eyodwa nje eyayimkhathanza. Lapho abangani bakhe beqa ingqathu, izinwele zabo zazinyakaza ziye phezulu naphansi, futhi zinyakaze ziye lena nalena. UZinhle wayenezinwele ezithambile eziwugqinsi olwenza isimo esiyindilinga enkulu, futhi zazinganyakazi ngendlela efanayo nezabangani bakhe.
NgoMgqibelo mumbe ekuseni uZinhle wabuza unina, “Mama, kungani izinwele zami zingakhuli njengezinwele zabangani bami? Izinwele zabo ziyandiza nje uma beqa ingqathu. Zibonakala zizinhle! Kungenza ngiphatheke kabi ukuthi izinwele zami azinyakazi kanjalo. Zihlala zithule nje!” “Izinwele zakho zingase zehluke kwezabangani bakho, kodwa nazo zinhle nje njengezabo!” kwasho uMama.
UZinhle waba nobuso obudangele, kodwa unina wammoyizelela. “Bheka eduze kwakho, Zinhle,” kusho yena. “Izinwele zakho zikhula zisuka ezimpandeni ziye phezulu, njengezihlahla kanye nezitshalo. Kanti ziyindilinga futhi zinkulu, zifana ncamashi nomhlaba esiphila kuwo.
Ungadlala ngazo nawe bese wenza amaphethini nezimo ezinhle kuzo. Izinwele zakho ziwumlingo – futhi lokho kungokwekhethelo!”La mazwi amenza uZinhle wajabula. Wagijima waphumela phandle eyotshela abangani bakhe ngezinwele zakhe eziwumlingo.
Kodwa wathi lapho etshela uZongi kanye noSindi ukuthi uMama utheni, bavele babhekana base bephela yinsini.“Zingaba wumlingo kanjani izinwele?” kubuza uZongi. “Ha-ha-ha!” kuhleka uSindi. “Ungahlekisi kanjalo, Zinhle! Umlingo? Lutho!”Amehlo kaZinhle agcwala izinyembezi, kodwa akazange akhale. Wayengasafuni ukuthi uZongi noSindi baphinde bamhleke.
Khona ngaso leso sikhathi, amantombazane ayesebona uGogo ewaqhweba. Wayemile emnyango oseduze.“Bhekani, uGogo uyasibiza,” kwasho uZinhle.
Izingane ezintathu zazithanda ukusiza uGogo. Wayezixoxela izindaba eziningi futhi ezinikeza nezithelo ezomisiwe njalo nje uma zimvakashele. Ngakho uZinhle, uZongi noSindi baphuthuma baya kuGogo ukuyothola ukuthi wayebabizelani. “Angiphilile kahle namuhla,” kwasho uGogo. “Ngifuna ukunithuma niye kwaNtuli niyongitholela umuthi.”
Izingane zadumala ukuzwa ukuthi uGogo wayengaphilile kahle zase zivuma ukuthi zihambe ziyomtholela umuthi.
“Ngizonidwebela ibalazwe ukuze ningeduki,” kwasho uGogo. “Ibalazwe lizosiza ukuniholela emzini kaBaba uNtuli, uzoninikeza amakhambi athile.” Emva kwalokho uGogo wangena ngaphakathi wayothatha iphepha nepensela ukuze adwebe ibalazwe. Wabheka ediloweni, kodwa kazange athole phepha. “Kuzomele ngenze elinye isu,” kwasho yena. Wayesebheka ngokucophelela intombazane ngayinye.
Emva kwalokho wayesethi, “Zinhle, unezinwele ezinhle kakhulu. Zibonakala ziqinile. Ngizokweluka imiqhino ukuze ngenze ibalazwe ezinweleni zakho. Ibalazwe lizonisiza ukufika kwaNtuli.”
UGogo wahlala esihlalweni sakhe esibomvu asikhonzile, uZinhle wayesehlala ecansini phambi kwakhe. UGogo wayeseluka izinwele zikaZinhle. Amanye amantombazane abuka ngokulangazelela. Ngenkathi uGogo ekama ebuye eluka amaphethini ahlukahlukene, uZongi noSindi bamangaliswa wubude bezinwele zikaZinhle.
“Hawu! Umama wakho uqinisile,” kwasho uSindi. “Izinwele zakho IMPELA ziwumlingo! Zibukeka zimfishane ngempela, kodwa zinde kunalokhu okucabangayo!”
“Yiqiniso,” kwasho uZongi. “Yinto engalindelekile le!"
UZinhle wamoyizela ngenjabulo lapho ebabheka. Lapho uGogo eseqedile ukweluka izincwele zikaZinhle, imigqa yayibukeka nje njengebalazwe eliqondisa izingane kwaNtuli! Ngesikhathi behamba ezigwaqaneni eziyimincingo esigangeni, uZongi noSindi babelokhu bema bebheka izinwele zikaZinhle ukwenza isiqiniseko sokuthi basahamba ngendlela efanele.
Ngenkathi behamba, babecula ingoma abaziqambele yona:“UGog’ akaphilile kahle,UGog’ akaphilile kahle. Siya kwaNtuli, siyoland’ amakhathakhathana – amakhathakhathan’ okuphilis’ uGogo!”
Ekugcineni izingane zafika kwaNtuli. Lapho-ke uBaba uNtuli wazinikeza amaphakeshana amabili emithi kaGogo. Endleleni ebuyela ekhaya, amantombazane asebenzisa ibalazwe lemigqa yemiqhino esekhanda likaZinhle ukuwaqondisa. Athi uma esefika ephephile emzini kaGogo, amnikeza umuthi.
Ngakusasa ekuseni, uZinhle, uZongi kanye noSindi bahamba baya emzini kaGogo ukuze bayobona ukuthi wayesengcono yini. Lapho befika khona, bamthola enisela isivande sakhe.
Ngesikhathi sezindaba esikoleni ngakusasa ekuseni, abangani abathathu batshela ikilasi labo ngezitayela zabo zezinwele eziwumlingo. Ngesikhathi sekhefu, base beqala nje ukweqa ingqathu ngenkathi ezinye izingane zicela ukubona imiqhino eyayenza ibalazwe eliya kwaNtuli. “Kungumlingo ngempela,” kwasho othile, bonke abanye bavuma.
Stay tuned for more, and sign up to our newsletter to be notified of new bedtime stories for kids: