The Literary District runs on community support. We send thousands of books, new and used, for free to libraries across South Africa every year. We also work with community organisations that have literacy outreach programmes and donate books to their causes.
With grants from the city’s Department of Community Development, we workshopped six storybooks in local languages. Three of these stories were accepted by Nal’ibali for translation into all 11 languages with free distribution, thanks to a grant from the Cadbury #InOurOwnWords campaign. See ‘The First Story Ever Told’ in isiXhosa here.
We have also worked on getting stories to print that have, up until now, only existed in oral tradition. In doing this, we hope to share South African stories further across the globe.
Lost South African Classics
Many South African books that would now be considered classics seem to have disappeared. Some were banned and never reprinted after the end of Apartheid, and others simply fell out the public consciousness but are taking on new resonance now.
Growing SA Literature
We host publishing workshops to help break down some of the barriers between writers’ ideas and books going to print. We also sell books from independent authors on consignment, helping their words reach readers.
We host Storytime Saturday every week, either at Bridge Books or around the corner at Ernest Oppenheimer Park. With this initiative, we hope to revitalise the art of oral narrative, and to give children a fun and enriching activity on the weekend. Our readers bring stories to life in all South African languages, depending on the week’s audience. We want the kids in the neighbourhood to know that kids like them can be on the covers of books, too.
We also work in collaboration with the Alliance Française. With monthly storytelling events, we support their mission of bringing South African cultures to French expats living in Joburg, encouraging them to introduce their children to more South African stories. Plenty of local children from our area come to listen, too, and to join in on the djembe drum circle.
To start, that means keeping our streets clean. With the help of a grant from the Social Employment Fund, we have hired cleaners to help us keep the district looking refreshed.