On December 5th, 2013, the world lost one of its most courageous and inspiring leaders with the passing of Nelson Mandela. In attempt to honor, in some small way, his legendary life and legacy, we at NikeTalk contributed $35,000 (our largest single donation to date) to Room to Read, in support of their efforts to promote literacy and improve children's lives throughout South Africa: http://niketalk.com/t/576388/rip-nelson-rolihlahla-mandela/150#post_19268990
Through this contribution, we sponsored the publication of an original children's book written in Xitsonga, a Bantu language spoken by over 13 million people.
Years ago, Room to Read discovered that the effectiveness of many libraries they'd constructed had been limited by the relative dearth of children's books printed in the language most common to each community. Rather than hoping for or pleading with major publishers to solve the problem, the organization began publishing their own titles in partnership with local authors and illustrators. They've now produced over 10.5 million copies of original titles developed for children in Africa and Asia. Last year, Room to Read published 1,158 different titles - six of which were produced for South Africa.
Today, I'd like to give you a look at one of those titles, Thamuka Xichelana, Thamuka!, written by Thomas H. Hiongwane, illustrated by Nosiphiwo Menze, and sponsored by the NikeTalk community.
In English, Thamuka Xichelana, Thamuka! means "Jump Little Frog, Jump!"
Though the primary beneficiaries of Room to Read's local language publishing program will always be young readers, the initiative also serves to recognize and encourage the talents of local authors and illustrators.
Above, you'll see the credits page for Thamuka Xichelana, Thamuka! They are the people truly responsible for every aspect of the book. Aside from the funding, we contributed one thing, and one thing only: the dedication language.
The dedication reads, "This book is dedicated to the children of South Africa, so that the joy of reading may enrich their lives. It is published in honor of Nelson Mandela, whose inspirational legacy beckons us towards the construction of a more just and compassionate future."
I realize that some of you may feel a bit disappointed by the lack of any mention of NikeTalk.com here, considering that all of our funding is ultimately generated by your continued interest, loyalty, and participation in our community. Given the importance of dedicating this title in honor of Nelson Mandela, however, I thought it a bit vulgar to include anything that might come across as commercialized branding.
Make no mistake, though, we would never have the opportunity to contribute to so ambitious a project without your continued support. I hope you can understand the decision concerning the dedication language, and still feel the deep sense of appreciation that the team and I personally share towards all of you.
Thank you all so very much for enabling our community to contribute to so noble and urgent a project.
Thamuka Xichelana, Thamuka! tells the story of a little frog who overcomes obstacles with the help and encouragement of his friends.
It was written as part of a three day workshop held in Limpopo, March 19-21, 2014. Six manuscripts created during the workshop were ultimately selected for distribution through Room to Read's local language publishing program.
After reviewing test scores, consulting with the Ministry of Education, and conducting interviews with students and teachers, Room to Read established areas of need to be addressed by their original titles. They identified a shortage in "big books," suitable for shared reading, story circles, and read aloud activities. Thamuka Xichelana, Thamuka! was subsequently designed as a large format title, ideally suited for young readers. Each copy is a little over 16" tall.
Over 1,000 copies of the new book are going out to Room to Read's network of schools and libraries throughout South Africa. We'll also have five or so titles of our own on hand to give away to contributors to an upcoming group fundraiser.
As always, I'd like to thank you again for your continued support. For more information on our community contributions, check out our charity section: http://niketalk.com/atype/4/Charity
Stay tuned for more donation announcements and opportunities in the months ahead.