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Little Hands

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Happiness Namhla Thupana’s formative reading experiences

Once upon a time not long ago but before she was a student with aspirations of writing a novel, Happiness Namhla Thupana (18), had little hands and this is what she read…

Namhla’s earliest memories of reading:

I honestly don’t remember how old I was when I started to have an interest in books, but I clearly remember that I was more interested in adult books than children’s ones. One children’s book that I read was a Xhosa book called URampasintilintili about a little man who helped a poor miller’s daughter to make gold out of grass for the king. That was a fascinating book and I read it more than ten times.
Reading was my favourite thing to do. I read everything I came across: newspapers, old magazines, pieces of papers. I remember reading this piece of fiction torn from a magazine in 2005. It was about a woman who was in a relationship with a guy who had an affair with his PA. She fell pregnant (not the PA). She was confident that she’d win him back, but the guy had already decided he would choose his PA because the other woman was too uptight and self-absorbed. The guy hadn’t told anyone who he would choose, but before I could read more I realised the piece torn from the magazine had more than a few pages missing. To this day I wonder about the ending.

Namhla’s first books:

As a teenager I became more open minded. I started reading books by Shakespeare. I read stories like Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar and others, but I can’t remember the titles.
I also read Xhosa novels like Iintombi zinecebo: isiyoliso sothando (Girls Always Have A Plan), Kusa Kusihlwa (There’s Always Light At The End of The Tunnel), Unyana womntu(Someone’s Son), Ingqumbo yeminyanya(Anger of the Ancestors), and many more. I also came across a poem called Death be not proud and I wrote my own version of Death be not proud. I also read William Shakespeare’s poem that goes Let me not to the marriage of true minds Admit impediments. Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds, or bends with the remover to remove: On no it is an ever-fixed mark and is never shaken. For a while I couldn’t understand the old English, but I became better and better and now it makes perfect sense. I also read a book called Why Bother. It was about teenagers who lived reckless lives until nature took its course. There was another book too, Nosel’ Eyibethile Akakayoji written by N.T. Gwegwe (Even the One Who Has Caught the Bird Has Not Braaied It Yet), based in Cape Town, by a Cape Town author.

I started writing my own stuff too, like poems and other pieces. I’ve even started writing a book about me, but now I’m too busy to focus on it. I will get back to it some time.

Namhla as an adult on reading with children:
Unfortunately I don’t have any experience of reading with children, except for helping my cousin with her grade 1 homework, but that’s it.


Aims of The Little Hands Trust
• To support initiatives that promote reading for enjoyment.
• To mentor African literary artists, including writers, illustrators and editors, to produce creative, suitable and appropriate children’s storybooks for children of various ages with a focus on early childhood (ages 0 to 9 years).
• To collaborate with African publishers to increase and sustain publication of children’s books in African languages. To initiate and support translations of stories between African languages, from African languages to ex-colonial languages and from ex-colonial languages to African languages.
• To help to orientate and educate adults in the importance and significance of reading to and with children.


Recent comments:

  • Ben - Editor
    Ben - Editor
    January 20th, 2009 @16:25 #

    Bump! Once for the piece and twice for the link to the catalogue of isiXhosa fiction.

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    January 20th, 2009 @16:55 #

    That's a very cool catalogue. Where did it come from?

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Alex Smith</a>
    Alex Smith
    January 26th, 2009 @08:43 #

    It's a great catalogue and was produced by PASA, the Publishers Association of South Africa. I just tried to access the link (to see if there are similar catalogues for other languages), but it seems the website is 'out of bandwidth'. If anyone at any stage tries and can't get it, but would like to see the catalogue, I've downloaded it and will glady email it to you.


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