It was exactly a week ago when South Africa celebrated Heritage Day and adorned their unique traditional attires. But one isiZulu author, Mfanufikile Mbuthuma (31), has made it his mission to celebrate his heritage more than once a year.

“I have a book titled Impilo Imi Ngenye Indlela. I wrote the book in my home language isiZulu ’cos I pride myself in it and people no longer value our indigenous languages. Our youth needs to read about issues that affect them in their own languages so they could be free to engage and formulate their own solutions. It’ll also help them improve their language skills,” he explains.

September is equally celebrated as literacy month, with International Literacy Day celebrated annually on the September 8. Mfanufikile was this year’s National Book Week’s (NBW) ambassador for KwaZulu-Natal. NBW is an initiative in encouraging the nation to value reading as a fun and pleasurable activity.

“I grew up and did all my schooling here in Harding in KwaZulu-Natal [where the NBW activation took place in KZN]. I grew up under harsh conditions as my mom struggled to make ends meet. I used books as a way to escape that reality. I was someone who loved reading novels and I kept at it throughout my schooling days. People need to familiarize themselves with libraries and poetry events sessions so they will be motivated to read.”

During the NBW event, upon being called to come and talk on stage, Mfanufikile confidently walked up with his book under his arm. The fully-packed hall gave him a standing ovation; he’s one of Harding’s voices of hope.

“What inspired me to write and publish my own book was reading other people’s work ’cos that proved to me nothing’s impossible. I was just a young boy with big dreams and today those are getting fulfilled. I want to leave a legacy behind so that people know I lived and had something to show for it.”

As soon as he was done with his speech, he was flanked by local journalists who were all eager to capture his story on camera.

Writing books is just one page of his life; he’s an established vernacular poet as well! With a Public Relations qualification from UNISA under his belt, Mfanufikile is well positioned to speak about the issue of unemployed graduates.

“Unemployment is on the rise and we graduates are just sitting at home with no jobs. We need to turn our fortunes around and use our talents to our advantage. Most of us are sitting on money ’cos we expect someone else to come and rescue us. But that time needs to come to an end, we must use our gifts to build a legacy.”

Mfanufikile wraps up with a few words of encouragement.

“Our youth must stay away from drugs and unprotected sex which leads to unwanted pregnancies. Focus on progressive stuff that’ll change your lives for the better. People must buy books and refrain from doing piracy. When you buy a fake book then you’re taking our bread away. This is not just entertainment but our way of living as well.”


Tell us: Do you think we’ve enough books that are in African languages?