Programme Director: Cllr Moreotsile Oliphant
Kgosi Aobakwe Mankurwane
Cllr Joyce Malepe
Principal and Teachers
Parents and Learners
Ladies and Gentlemen
Befitting an occasion of this nature, let me open by reading a passage from a book by Alan Paton, and aptly titled, Cry, the Beloved Country:
“Yes, it is the dawn that has come. The titihoye wakes up from sleep, and goes about its work of forlorn crying. The sun tips with light the mountains of Angeli and East Griqualand. The great valley of the Umzimkhulu is still in darkness, but the light will come there. Ndotsheni is still in darkness, but the light will come there also. For it is the dawn that has come, as it has come for a thousand centuries, never failing…”
Today, the dawn has come to this Mokasa II Village. It is a dawn that brings the warm rays of the sun. The light has come, yes; the ability to read can be likened to the arrival of a new dawn, a new light.
It is my pleasure and privilege to speak at this august occasion. I am here on the invitation of the Bokamoso Service Club for the elderly. My office informed me that the Bokamoso Service Club is officially launching their reading club in commemoration of the life and times of late stalwart President Nelson Mandela. I accepted the invitation with ecstasy and without any hesitation because reading is so vital for all of us.
Programme Director, I am happy to report that we are joined today by the Gug’O Thandayo, (meaning You’ll Get Old If You Want) Service Club from Ward 08 in Lokgabeng Village as well as Mzamo Service Club from Rooival village.
At the outset, I would like to issue a challenge that all twenty four (24) wards under the Greater Taung Municipality must have at least one reading club of this nature targeting our senior citizens.
It really warms my heart that our message since last year to get the nation reading is bearing fruits. We congratulate the Bokamoso Service Club for reaching this milestone of an official launch. I am aware that many reading clubs are being launched across the country; unfortunately we can’t officiate at all of them. I am encouraged by the fact that the oldies didn’t sit and wait for the Government handouts but dug deeper inside themselves to make this club work. As a gesture of goodwill, today I am like Santa Claus, I come loaded with gifts, the gifts of the written word. There can be no bigger joy then seeing our people enjoying reading.
As a token of appreciation, the Minister of Basic Education Mrs Angie Motshekga said today I must on behalf of the Basic Education Department hand over to the Bokamoso Service Club the reading “Starter Pack.” The Starter Pack consists of story books and novels in Afrikaans, English and Setswana. These books are to ignite a reading revolution within this community of Mokasa II Village and beyond. We are grateful for the Club member’s commitment to the cause of reading.
Last year, during the International Nelson Mandela, we launched a nation-wide call for the refurbishment and building of new libraries as a key ingredient in our quest to get the nation reading. We made an undertaking to revitalise/and or make possible to have 1 000 School Libraries in all needy schools per year from 2015 until 2019. We are humbled by the support we have received from the private sector, international organisations and all sectors of society.
We came to a conclusion that the only way to honour Madiba, one of our own, the giant in whose shadow we live, was to begin a nation-wide campaign to inculcate the culture of reading amongst the young and old.
Programme Director, I ask for you indulgence since today we are about the migrating words, allow me to read a passage from the book Long Walk to Freedom. In his own words, the Noble Prize Laureate Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela wrote thus:
“Apart from life, a strong constitution and abiding connection to the Thembu royal house, the only thing my father bestowed upon me at birth was a name, Rolihlahla. In Xhosa, Rolihlahla literally means ‘pulling the branch of a tree’, but its colloquial meaning more accurately would be ‘troublemaker’. I do not believe that names are destiny or that my father somehow divined my future, but in later years, friends and relatives would ascribe to my birth name the many storms I have both caused and weathered. My more familiar English or Christian name was not given to me until my first day of school.” As we know that name is Nelson.
Programme Director; there is a huge body of research that concludes that the main thrust of literacy development is the promotion of a community-wide reading culture which encourages everybody to become engaged and motivated readers.
Sadly, South Africa does not have a culture of reading. Statistics indicate that only 14% of South Africans are readers of books and only 5% of parents read to their children. To succeed as country, we must inculcate a reading culture across all age cohorts.
In 2007 the Department of Basic Education (DBE) initiated the Drop All & Read programme targeting mainly Grade R and Grade 1 learners. However, it is important that all learners in schools as well as all members of community should set time aside for reading and storytelling. The programme has been relaunched as Read-To-Lead.
The Read-To-Read campaign is a cradle to grave reading initiative. The overarching vision of the campaign is that a reading nation is a leading nation. This is a four-year campaign to create a national focus to improve the reading abilities of all South African children and adults. It seeks to provide energy as well as direction and inspiration across all levels of the education system and beyond. These include schools, homes, churches, and malls to name just a few. We are encouraging schools, families and communities to make reading a regular and established part of their daily routine.
We are indeed mindful that the task of educating the nation is a societal and collective effort. In this regard, literacy thus better reading skills have a positive impact on all aspects of living.
There are many benefits to reading. Literacy as an outcome of reading impacts on society in several ways namely, literate parents are more likely to send their children to school; literate people are better able to access continuing educational opportunities; and literate societies are better geared to meet pressing developmental agenda.
Research shows a causal relationship between a literate nation and reduced levels of poverty. Literate societies have low child mortality, steady population growth, and are likely to achieve gender equality. There is now an established scientific fact that literate societies have higher sustainable economic development, and most likely to enjoy lasting peace and democracy.
The son of the soil, Ben Orki in his acclaimed novel the famished road wrote thus about the beginning of a new dawn:
“In that land of beginnings spirits mingled with the unborn. We could assume numerous forms. Many of us were birds. We knew no boundaries. There was much feasting, playing and sorrowing. We feasted much because we were free. And we sorrowed much because there were always those amongst us who had just returned from the world of the Living. They had returned inconsolable for the love they had left behind, all the suffering they hadn’t redeemed, all that they hadn’t understood, and for all that they had barely begun to learn before they were drawn back to the land of origins.”
In conclusion, let’s us enjoy the written word, the migrating words. Let us be transported back to that land of the beginnings. Let us mingle with the unborn. Let’s us assume numerous forms as we devour in the dish of the written word.