As the Franschhoek Literary Festival (FLF) had book lovers abuzz around the Cape village recently, the joy of reading was also spilling over at the local Groendal Secondary School as excited young readers vied to win the Phendulani Literacy Quiz.
The Friday morning event, cheered on by hundreds of Grade Seven learners, was closely contested with the two teams from the Dalubuhle Primary ending neck-and-neck. It took a tense tie-breaker from Phendulani founder and quizmaster Marj Brown to see Dalubuhle Team 2 win the day, with Dalubuhle Team 1 in second spot and Groendal Team 1 in third. Wes-Eind Primary School also entered two teams to compete in the quiz and Wemmershoek Primary one team, and shared in the literary excitement.
This is the second year that the FLF has brought Phendulani to Franschhoek, and it was another resounding success, according to Brown.
“The festival is always such a celebration of reading and literature, and it is wonderful that younger members of this community can also be inspired by the event,” she said. “Reading is of course a vital ingredient of personal development and community upliftment, so the FLF-Phendulani collaboration has a transformative role to play”
Kicking off the Phendulani Quiz this year was a keynote address by local winery owner Paul Siguqa, whose recent acquisition of Klein Goederust has put him in the news. Siguqa, whose mother was a farm worker hailing from the Eastern Cape, gave the large audience of young learners a message of hope based on his own experience.
“Reading is your road to discover a wider world, and a brighter future,” he said. “Books can take you to places you have never dreamed of, and you do not even have to step on an aeroplane.”
He recounted his own love of books from an early age, a passion which his mother Nomaroma fostered enthusiastically even though she herself could not read. His reading opened up new worlds for him, he explained, and put his education on a firm grounding – so that he could later attend university and enter a career of his choice.
The quiz ended with cheers of jubilation from onlookers and teams alike – as the top readers became the heroes of the day. The local teachers, librarians and other supporters of reading were also enthused, with one commenting: “The children had such fun – just listen to their joy! It was a great success.”
Brown highlighted that reading books is vital to stimulate literacy and improve comprehension skills, but it needs to be fun and relevant if it is to draw in more young people.
“The children loved the Superheroes category of this year’s quiz, which linked US superheroes in books with local South African superheroes like Kwezi and Khoi created by Loyiso Mkize,” she said. “About 70% of the books the learners read for this quiz were written by local authors.”
The graphic novel Kwezi was voted as the favourite book among the Phendulani Quiz participants, who also enjoyed Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime – even though it was more challenging to read. Other categories included Identity, Challenges, and School and Family life.