at the Soweto Book Café, books are used for social bonding

In 2015, Thami Mazibuko returns to her childhood home in Soweto after living in the central business district of Johannesburg. She then noticed that this part of the municipality was poor in bookstores and even more so in establishments run by blacks.

He explains to the New Frame site: “People in townships and previously disadvantaged communities do not have access to books. These are a privilege for them.» An analysis that will be at the origin of his project that will see the light 3 years later, the Soweto Book Café.

It all started in 2018, within the walls of his home. With her meager personal collection of about 30 books, she opened a makeshift bookstore. Donations quickly poured in and her store grew rapidly, reaching 10,000 referrals.

Faced with the growing magnitude of the stock, Mazibuko stops accumulating and shares more actively. Thus, members of the community could now enter and take any book for free. He also redistributed some of his property to Soweto schools. The idea germinates little by little to transform what had begun as a conceptual library.

The doubling of the commercial dimension of a lending vocation came mainly from young audiences who visited Mazibuko. The closest public libraries were Emndeni and Mofolo, respectively 5 and 10 km from Zondi. Since then, the bookseller-librarian sells to those who can pay and lets the poorest borrow as they see fit.

read and understand

But the manager did not stop there. Listening to the community, he pushed the concept of it and a few years later, Mazibuko joined forces with Sindisiwe Zulu. Narrator, facilitator and writer, she leads a local organization that aims to improve the reading and writing skills of children and young people in the region.

It all starts once again with a sad observation: his own niece is having a hard time in school. The girl explains:Its English. We don’t know how to read it. And sometimes we can, but without realizing it.So a collaboration began between Zulu and youth from Jabulani, Zondi and Mofolo. By partnering with Mazibuko, several other programs are created, including a literacy course held every Saturday. It brings together children from 4 to 16 years old, under this title “reading is great“.

The Soweto Book Café brings people to bookssays Mondi “Mordecai” Loni, a small local publisher whose books are on the store’s shelves. Because the bookstore-library has become more than that for the inhabitants of Zondi.

In the future, Soweto Book Café intends to organize a literary festival to create another platform for readers, publishers and all book lovers. But also with a view to filling the void left by the disappearance of the Abantu Book Festival.

Photo credits: Facebook

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