Byline: Kelebogile Masemola

09 September 2022

To commemorate Literacy and Heritage Month, Nal’ibali, the national reading-for-enjoyment campaign, in collaboration with Standard Bank have partnered to bring South African families, six free brand-new children’s stories in African languages to celebrate and understand some of the unique customs practised by different cultures in South Africa.

Included in the series titled, ‘Celebrating Mzansi’ is an isiZulu, isiXhosa, Sesotho, Sepedi, Setswana, and Afrikaans short story.

Each written by a local author, the stories have been translated into English and designed as colourful bilingual story cards that are enticing, easy to read and accessible for children aged five to seven years.

“South Africa is a country rich with culture, we are hugely diverse and have much to learn and love about each other.

But, in order to grow an appreciation for all our different people, we need to encourage our children to be open minded, curious and sensitive to the world and people around them,” explains Nal’ibali Director, Nqabakazi Mathe-Gina.

Stories are a perfect platform to spark children’s interests and to begin a conversation on any topic, as they are a safe way to explore the new and unknown, as well as the familiar.

“Stories have been used throughout history to help people make sense of their lives and the world around them, but what’s more, they are also the essential building block of literacy.

When children are excited by stories, they are motivated to learn to read themselves,” adds Kirston Greenop, Head of Regulatory Advocacy, Stakeholder Engagement and CSI at Standard Bank.

The six new stories are intended to spark children’s interest in and respect for various South African cultures and languages, and to help them fall in love with stories and reading.

At fewer than 500 words each, the stories are quick, short reads for men and women who are pressed for time, to share with their children.

Ideally first read aloud by a caregiver, older sibling or relative, the stories are then discussed by asking simple questions such as what everyone did or did not enjoy, or what similar or different experiences they’ve had themselves.

This can happen at any time during the family’s daily routine, while preparing a meal, at bath time, before bed or during a daily commute.

And, as the conversation unfolds, family bonds grow.

To make the stories even more accessible, there will be live reads every Wednesday at 15h30 during the month of September on Nal’ibali’s Facebook page.

Authors and topics included in the Celebrating Mzansi series are:

isiZulu: Inzinyo likaNozi by Thembinkosi Mabaso featuring nhloyile, a milk tooth collecting bird
Sepedi: Lerato sekgwari sa go bina, by Thembinkosi Mabaso featuring a girl with great dance skills
Sesotho: Badisana ba dipodi by Nthuseng Tsoeu featuring naughty goats and two herd boys
isiXhosa: Wenze Ntoni Bruno? by Notozi Mgobozi featuring a clever dog and a traditional wedding
Setswana: Lesea le lešwa le tla gae by Lorato Trok featuring a baby naming ceremony
Afrikaans: Ouma kyk rugby by Jaco Jacobs featuring a rugby game and a surprising ouma

The series is available for free download from the Nal’ibali website,

Nal’ibali has also created a free storytelling board game which can be downloaded from its website.

Available in all 11 official languages, the game has been made for children to play with one another or their caregivers and is designed to help them make up their own stories.