February Book 2 (Cion)

I moved from Blogger a few months ago. I’m sharing the books I’ve read this year. At the beginning of 2012 I made a promise that I would read one book a month. In February I read 2 books (I’ll accept my Noddy Badge later). This is what I wrote (pulled directly from my old blog)

I mentioned that February would be Zakes Mda month. I started off with Memoirs of an Outsider and then finished off Cion.

I REALLY enjoyed Ways of Dying about Toloki the professional mourner. In Cion the professional mourner is now in the US and learns about the ancestors of the people with whom he is staying. It took a while to get into the book. But I trust the author so I kept going on. When I got to the end of the book I wanted to know more about what happens to all the characters. I must add that I felt like the characters were a little thin. They were a little hard to bring to ‘life’ but I enjoyed the book none the less.

It would be unfair to compare this book to ‘Ways of Dying’ (which is one of my favourite books). I don’t think you necessarily have to have read Ways of Dying to enjoy Cion. This book reminded me a little of Toni Morrison’s works, which is great because I am a HUGE Toni Morrison fan. Her book A Mercy was the January book.

My Little Stars

In 2009 I joined The Shine Centre as a volunteer. I was working in radio and had a feature on ‘people who are making a difference’. Everyone has a ’cause’ that is close to their hearts. Mine is education. I’m sure you can guess why. The older I get, the more passionate I get about the quality of education South African children are getting. This may very ‘Prophet of Doom-y’ of me, but I believe our education system is in crisis.

We didn’t perform very well in 2 International Assessments: Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) and Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). It was not necessarily for me to read the numerous articles written on the state of our education system. I’ve known for a long time that it is lacking. Interviewing the founder of The Shine Centre made me want to be part of the solution. My years of complaining had, evidently, done nothing to improve the situation.

shine

I joined them halfway through the year and it is one of the best things I have ever done. I met a group of dedicated volunteers who work with one (sometimes 2) child. The volunteer is assigned the same child every session. So on Tuesday mornings I met a little girl, who we will call U, and we spent an hour together. During the hour we work on reading and writing. At first it felt like I was not making a difference at all. After 2 months, U still didn’t know the alphabet very well. Then all of a sudden she started reading 3 letter words and eventually she was reading longer words and making better sentences.

shine kids

It is my 3rd year as a volunteer at The Shine Centre and I am still amazed at how much progress these children make. Its also wonderful to see someone gain confidence and grow during the school year. When the year ends and they ‘graduate’, it is such an emotional time for me. I’m happy for them because they can read and write at their age level (and most times above). But there is a little bit of sadness because I won’t get to work with them anymore. Meanwhile they move on to the next grade and they perform even better than before.

One of my students loved to build this word because she always got a hug afterwards :)
One of my students loved to build this word because she always got a hug afterwards :)

This year I had the pleasure of working with 4 very bright Grade 2 learners. There were many hugs, high-fives and tears. Well… The tears were from one little angel V. She is very hard on herself and would often get so frustrated if she didn’t ‘get’ something. On mornings like that I would just hug her and then we would build words (see pic above). She score above 90% in her year end assessment!

shine (2)

My mornings are so empty now that school holidays have started. I often wonder how different South Africa (and the world) would be if we all became the ‘solution’ instead of complaining. I know… You’re gonna call me an idealist blah blah. But just try to imagine.

Saturday Jam (John Legend)

posted in: Things That I Like | 0

I like this song. A LOT! He had me with ‘Get Lifted’. John can do no wrong in my eyes/ears. Enjoy the Saturday Jam.

I know this is weird, but I can’t help thinking how trusting he must be to let the woman in the video touch his face (and lips). Yeah, its weird. But I have a thing about people touching my face. Eeeuw. I don’t know where your hands have been. Ha ha ha. I’m gonna stop.

February Book 1 (Sometimes There Is a Void)

posted in: Book Worm | 1

I moved from Blogger to WordPress, so I’m sharing some of the books I have read this year. Here is what I wrote about Sometimes There Is a Void, pulled directly from the old blog:

Zakes Mda is one of my favourite authors, so much so that this month I am reading two of his books. I was reading Cion when I bought Sometimes there is a Void (Memoirs of an Outsider). I stopped reading Cion, not because it was boring but because my curiosity got the better of me. I wanted to know where my favourite authors was from, where his love for writing came from, what his childhood was like etc.

memoirs

I was unable to put this book down. It made me realise just how little I knew about the history of Lesotho and the ‘arts scene’ in South Africa. It almost felt like I had gone to visit him in his home and every day was spent just listening to him talk. I am not disappointed that I bought the book. His honesty made me appreciate him even more.

zakes_mda

I will be reading Cion for the rest of the month. 2 book in February? I’m impressed with myself *wink*

Update: A few months after I read this book I got to meet Zakes Mda and his beautiful wife Gugu Nkosi. This was truly a dream come true. I have tried for a long time to blog about what this meeting has meant to me. But words fail me. All I can say is that Zakes Mda is one of the most incredible people that I have met this year. He is relaxed and always interested in hearing what people have to say. Maybe I should also include that he is funny, we had many laughs. Zakes is very passionate about South Africa; both he and Gugu want to come back home and be part of the ‘solution’. AND Sometimes There Is a Void was made it on to the New York Times list of 100 Notable Books of 2012. I am not at all surprised. Well done Ntate Mda!

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