Twelve-year-old Zonke Maqondose from Walter Teka Primary School, in Nyanga, emerged victorious during a reading competition, held in Athlone, on Thursday August 18.
The contest involved 15 City of Cape Town libraries, with 32 pupils from different schools representing their libraries.
The annual competition is aimed at encouraging pupils to start reading and regularly visiting libraries.
The pupils battled out for honours in Xhosa, English and Afrikaans, with Zonke clinching the top prize in Xhosa. She walked away with a R750 voucher and a stationery hamper. The competition rewards children for their ability to read with expression and understanding.
In an interview with Vukani on Friday August 19, Zonke described the competition as “nail-biting”, saying she was ecstatic to have won.
Before the competition, she said, she embarked on a rigorous reading practice schedule, reading every night before going to bed and asking her parents to critique her reading ability. She said she struggled to read Xhosa at first, but improved after paying special attention to it and with the assistance of her teachers.
“I’m happy that I won the competition. I did not think that I would win it because my competitors were quite good and I did not see myself winning it. I have made my family proud and I have also made my school very proud of me. I also made my library proud,” she said.
“I was very nervous and I was shivering when I was reading even though I knew that I had prepared enough, but when I saw my teacher smiling at me, her smile cooled my nerves. I will continue reading and people should never take reading isiXhosa for granted.”
Nyanga senior librarian, Sophie Mahuzie, said they would continue encouraging pupils to master Xhosa before other languages.
Ms Mahuzie said they had also won the contest in 2012 while they finished second last year. “We had our own in-house competition where we chose two pupils to represent us in isiXhosa and English.
“We trained them to read with understanding, how to use facial expressions and how to interact with the audience while reading,” she said.
Ms Mahuzie said many children were lazy to read and did not read with understanding.
School deputy principal Dennis Duko said the school was proud of Zonke’s achievement and that they hoped her victory would encourage other pupils to take reading seriously and aspire to achieve more.
“We are proud that she won because the current generation undermines the importance of reading Xhosa books. We will ensure that we further encourage our pupils to read more. To be honest with you, our pupils are just too lazy to read. We will forever cherish this moment and we would use Zonke’s win as a motivation to others,” he said.