Mfuleni teens tackle national literacy contest

Yonwaba Kholisile, Linathi Makhamba, Zonke Macala, Entle Mahola, Elona Nqambi and Sibongiseni Yeye in George. Picture: supplied

Teens from Mfuleni library’s reading club say they are going to start preparing now to be ready next year to take another crack at a national competition promoting literacy.

The five girls, Yonwaba Kholisile, Linathi Makhamba, Entle Mahola, Elona Nqambi and Sibongiseni Yeye, say it was thrilling competing for the first time and representing their province in the Funda Mzantsi Championships, held over five days in George earlier this month.

The contest – a collaboration between the Department of Correctional Services and the National Library of South Africa – has been running for 13 years and sees prison inmates from nine provinces competing against school, university and community book clubs in four categories: book reading, debating, spelling bee and book reviewing.

Club coordinator Zonke Macala said the event had been very challenging, but they had learnt a lot and had met people from other provinces.

“It was not easy at all. We were bruised but gained a lot of experience. We had more than 80 book clubs, and some were seniors and tertiary students. That alone is a massive experience. I am over the moon because we had to represent the province. That alone says a lot.”

The club members would be reviewing their strategies for next year, she said.

“Since it was our first time, we did not know a lot of things… Now we have a taste of all that so we should do well come next year.”

Club member Linathi Makhamba 16, said the competition had shown her how important it was to learn other languages.

“We met people who speak different languages, and that was awesome. That has taught me that one must speak most languages. We had a great time.”

Yonwaba Kholisile, 16, said the competition had been strenuous for both the competitors and the judges.

“We had to wake up at around 4am and spend the day in a hall with over 90 readers reading. There is only one judge per category, and it is difficult for all of us. That makes one think that the results will not be fair, but I must say I enjoyed going out of Cape Town and meeting other different people.”

Linathi Makhamba on stage at the Funda Mzantsi Championship in George. Picture: supplied
Yonwaba Kholisile has her moment to shine. Picture: supplied