“A love of reading is sparked when children see themselves in stories and relate it to their lives, even more so when it is shared in their home language,” says Xolisa Guzula, an early literary specialist.
However, the first book many South African children read is not the immersive experience Xolisa describes, as very few are able to enjoy storybooks in their home language. A survey by the Publishers Association SA (2016) highlighted the fact that only 2% of children’s books published commercially in South Africa are in local African languages*. And in a country where 80% of the population speak a home language other than English or Afrikaans there are not enough relatable stories available.
Cadbury Dairy Milk wants to change this and help inspire a love for reading amongst children. What better way to do this than by creating a library of enchanting children’s stories in their mother tongue.
According to Langa Khanyile, Chocolate Equity Lead, Sub Saharan Africa, “Cadbury Dairy Milk has always been a brand that aims to bring people closer together, we are founded in the spirit of generosity and pioneering social impact.” Lara Sidersky, Mondelez SA Category Lead For Chocolate, adds, “That is why we want to impact the future of our children and are asking all South Africans to generously translate just one word to help co-author a library of children’s stories in African languages. We believe there’s a glass and a half of goodness in all South Africans and can’t wait to see what they share”.
With this small act of generosity, everyone can help Cadbury Dairy Milk and Nal’ibali realise the goal of co-authoring 1500 children’s stories in African languages by 2023. By simply sharing one word as part of the In Our Own Words initiative, South Africans will be part of the change.
How you can participate
Simply visit www.cadbury.co.za choose your language to start generously translating words from English into your home language. Nal’ibali, with its team of young, local authors are standing by to weave all of these translated words into exciting new stories that will be made available for parents and children to download and enjoy!
The importance of supporting initiatives such as In Our Own Words
Nal’ibali is built on the premise that a well-established culture of reading can be a real game-changer for education in South Africa. Literacy skills are a strong predictor of future academic success in all subjects – and children who regularly read and hear engaging stories, in languages they understand, are well equipped and motivated to learn to read and write.
Lebohang Masango, anthropologist, poet and award-winning children book author, believes it’s important for children to be able to read in their own mother tongues. “The written word is the present word. When we use indigenous languages in children’s books, instruction manuals etcetera, that’s how you legitimise them and allow them to grow. You never want a child to feel like their language does not matter. If they can learn in their own language from a young age, that gives them more dignity and pride in their mother tongue and culture.”
The In Our Own Words initiative is only the start of Cadbury Dairy Milk’s journey to co-author, print, distribute and inspire with stories in all 11 South African languages. A journey which is intended to enrich lives, spark a love for reading and hopefully contribute towards raising the level of literacy in South Africa.
To showcase the stark statistics related to the lack of African language stories for children, and reiterate the importance of this campaign, Cadbury Dairy Milk replaced some much-loved chocolates with blank books. The wordless books represent the enchanting stories Cadbury Dairy Milk hopes to fill with the words they are asking South Africans share.