This is the 5th year that George Municipality and specifically our library officials are involved in the annual Funda Mzanti Championship which was established by the National Library of South Africa Centre to support and assist communities in establishing and sustaining book clubs.
The project was developed in response to a survey conducted by the South African Book Development Council in 2007 on general reading habits in South African Communities which revealed that South Africa is not a reading nation.
In 2013 the Department of Correctional Services upon realising the role played by the National Library of South Africa’s Centre and Centre for the Book in the rehabilitation of their offenders decided to join hands with these organisations. George Municipality has been a partner in this great initiative since 2016.
The 2019 Championship will be hosted in George from 23 – 27 September and roughly 146 bookclubs will participate in the Reading Competition in four categories namely: Reading, Debate, Book Review, and Spelling Bee, in the 11 official South African languages. The Department of Correctional Services will bring 30 book clubs and the rest is a combination of university, community and high school book clubs allowing for roughly 1500 participants and at least 1000 spectators.
The opening ceremony will take place on Monday 23 September at Eden Gemeente with the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Richard Lamola and the well-known and incredible choir for DCS as well as Imizamo Yethu School Choir will perform during the programme. During the week the Conville Hall and Thembalethu Hall will be used to accommodate all of the participants.
Ten (10) of the George Library Service officials are closely involved with the Planning Committee and assist with the pre-planning and logistics during the event. They are ably supported by municipal officials from the halls and law enforcement. Gertrude Potts, Senior Library Assistant has worked on four of the championship events and says that apart from being a bibliophile, for her, the competition is about the effort and the sacrifice of each and every individual.
“ It is about the diversity of our country, the experience, and excitement of bringing eleven languages together. The beauty of seeing how different government departments work together and share their resources, whether it might be physically, financially or intellectually. The interdepartmental assistance and guidance on the part of George Municipality and then also the excitement of meeting influential artists such as Loyiso Bala and others at the events. For me it is greatly exciting to see how this event grows from strength to strength and just gets bigger and bigger each year!” said Ms. Potts.
“This competition addresses the 2030 National Development Plan which encourages a love for reading, the speaking of many languages and that all citizens read, write, converse, and value ideas and thoughts as well as enhancing the literacy skills of all citizens. The libraries of George are proud to be a part of this project,” said Rachel Williams, Manager: Libraries.
Executive Mayor for George, Melvin Naik welcomed the national event. “The Funda Mzantzi Championship 2019 provides an established platform for book clubs from both schools and correctional facilities to exchange ideas and for scholars and offenders alike to challenge themselves on knowledge gained from a mutual love of reading. We are proud that George is the chosen venue for this prestigious event”, he said.
Caption: George Library Services staff who will participate actively in the 10th Funda Mzantsi Championship are from left: Rachel Williams Manager: Libraries ; Eurogine Carolus Library Assistant (Blanco Library); Romarco Adams Library Assistant (Conville Library); Mpumolelo Dladla Library Assistant (Conville Library); James de Waal Senior Librarian: Branch Libraries; Angela McKenzie Library Assistant (Blanco Library); Jacques Olivier Library Assistant (George Library); Gerty Potts Senior Library Assistant (George Library) and Malibongwe Luyenge Senior Librarian (George Library). Not present for the photograph, Mr Shanold Marillac, Senior Manager Community Services; Xholiswa Kortman Senior Library Assistant (Thembalethu Library) and Francis Moos: Library Assistant (George Library).