Xhosa culture club comes to Kuils River

Some of the founding members of the Masifunde isiXhosa Book club are, from left, Andile Lilelo, Ayanda Nyoka, Nomthandazo Guzula and Jayson Luh Nyoka. Their children, in front, from left, are Lwando Guzula, Inam Guzula and Luyanda Nyoka.

What happens when a Zulu man and his Xhosa wife live in an English-and-Afrikaans-speaking suburb? They start a book club.

Jayson Luh Nyoka, of Kuils River, had a concern in common with many of his friends – their children had started assimilating the varied languages and cultures from their communities. As a result, their own started being watered down.

To remedy this, the friends started the Masifunde isiXhosa Book Club for Kids.

“Most of our kids go to English-medium schools, and they speak English fluently. Language is linked to culture and identity. So we thought, ‘Let’s introduce something that can maintain the Xhosa culture for our children’,” Mr Nyoka said.

Mr Nyoka is Zulu and his wife, Ayanda Nyoka, is Xhosa.

“We’re raising a bit of a mixed breed,” he said, laughing.

Mr Nyoka said the group hoped to replicate the clubs for other languages and cultures but had started with Xhosa first because it was widely spoken in the province. Later, they hope to start similar clubs for other cultures in other communities.

The club’s secondary function is to introduce children to reading, and this is why it is open to all children and not only Xhosa-speaking ones. Mr Nyoka especially hopes that children adopted across cultures will come to the club.

“That child might develop an interest in their history and background when they are older and then they will have a foundation,” he said.

What could a child expect from the book club? “Reading, music, they will be learning more Xhosa songs. There will be storytelling, plays and poetry. Mostly it’s just to teach children to have that love of reading,” Mr Nyoka said.

The club will be based at Kuils River library. Mr Nyoka said the library had few Xhosa resources because the language was not prominent in the suburb. The club will therefore collect its own resources and use the library as a meeting place.

The plan is for the club to be a mini-library within a library with families meeting, taking home its resources and returning them at the next meeting.

“We’re trying to source books from the national library and anywhere else that can provide them,” Mr Nyoka said.

The free club will meet every Saturday, starting from February 4, in the Kuils River library hall, from 10am until 11am.

For more information, or to donate resources, call 073 596 2186 or email masifundeisixhosabc@
gmail.com

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