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South African Children reading during class lesson.

Storyteller Dr Nomsa Mdlalose fosters reading culture in minors

Dr. Nomsa Mdlalose embarked on a mission driven by a profound belief: that children and youth hold the key to the future of the nation.

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South African Children reading during class lesson.

Dr Nomsa Mdlalose is a firm believer that children and youth are the future of the nation.

Her passion for this notion in 2007 saw her establish Zintsomi Story Holdings, in an effort to stimulate artistic acumen in children and youths while promoting reading, performance, writing and publishing for children.

The Midrand-based Zintsomi Storytelling Centre is an edutainment company that produces multimedia stories  through books, digital, audio, animation, read-along, printed, adult performances and training. 

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“Arts, culture and sport have a critical role to play in children’s upbringing in order to realise a better future of the country. Hence the isiZulu saying ’Inkunzi isematholeni’, which literary means the bull is in the calves, which metaphorically means that the greatness of adults is worked on and shaped earlier in life,” said Mdlalose.

She explains that when she started the business, finances were a challenge but she did not let that be an obstacle. This meant she had to juggle her full-time job and this initative.

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“The little money from storytelling performances was enough to start writing and publishing the stories that I had accumulated for years. Dropping everything to enter a corporate space was still a learning journey for me. But I also gained financially which helped to push my business idea forward. As long as I did not owe anyone, I could still tolerate the frustration of the slowness,” she said.

Zintsomi has at different intervals received funding from the National Arts Council (NAC).

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“When I first applied for the funding I was a young amateur storyteller. It was so little that I cannot even remember how much it was. Out of that, my confidence as an artist grew and I was determined to win in this tough industry,” she said

Children’s book

In 2022, the organisation received R600 000 from the NAC to host a children’s book fair and storytelling festival, under the Presidential Employment Stimulus. The project provided jobs to about 40 people. These were storytellers, authors, project managers, photographers and film/video makers, and transport operators, among others.

Dr Mdlalose gives gratitude to the NAC, saying the the organisation made it possible for the Zintsomi to be known in countries such as South Sudan, Burundi, Serra Leone and Namibia. The company currently has representatives in Botswana, Lesotho, Tanzania and Kenya.

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Recently, the Tshwane University of Technology Centre for Entrepreneurship Development program  also provided Zintsomi with R120 000 in funding.  

Written by Lindelwa Fuku-Manjiya for GCIS VuK’ZENZELE