Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the normal lives of countless individuals and families have been upended in previously unimaginable ways. Traditional and online media are now constantly saturated with Covid-19 stories, which has resulted in adult concerns being forced on the enquiring minds of our young ones.

With the aim of creatively delivering a vital distraction and escape into the home, during level 5 lockdown, we initiated online storytelling hosted every Saturday at 11:00am on the National Book Week Facebook page. The effort was to help families adapt to the limitations imposed by the pandemic and create a “virtual book corner” for parents and little ones to get together for a story.

The event, Books Beyond Words, features some of SA’s seasoned storytellers tailoring their established styles of storytelling to social media, and in a way, reshaping tradition. Playing its part, the SABDC compensated the storytellers, bringing some relief to the loss of income in the cultural sector during lockdown.

During the live event, storytellers brought stories to life in English and widely spoken languages like IsiZulu, IsiXhosa, Afrikaans and Tshivenda. We also introduced South Africans to Khoisan history, heritage and folklore with a series of Nama stories. Many of these narrations saw graphics interspersed with the actual story to create an immersive experience.

NBW also celebrated World Book Day, held annually on 23rd April, with a marathon online storytelling event to promote the enjoyment of books and reading. The highlight of the World Book Day event was the telling of a story ‘Three Friends’ in sign language by raconteur Bongiswa Kotta-Ramushwana.

Last but not the least Wazi & Musa, the Department of Health’s cartoon characters which educate kids on COVID-19 and the importance of hygiene, also makes their presence felt in animated videos which are played between stories. 

To relive the magical experiences, click on the links below and share in the joys of storytelling.

  • Storytelling Session One

    Bongiswa Kotta-Ramushwana

  • Storytelling Session Two

    Bongiswa Kotta-Ramushwana  / The Jackal and the Wolf (English)

  • Storytelling Session Three

    Madoda Ndlakuse /  Zimasa at the Qhagqiqa Library (English) and  uHagwana (English)

  • Storytelling Session Four

    Malefu Mahloane / Life at the Hillcrest (English) and Mmota the Monkey (English)

  • Storytelling Session Five: World Book Day

    Malefu Mahloane / Frog with a problem (Sesotho, Tshivenda & English)

    Bongiswa Kotta-Ramushwana / Three friends (Sign language & English)

    Madoda Ndlakuse / Akazange Wagula, tu (IsiXhosa)

  • Storytelling Session Six

    Bongani Godide / Why the owl only flies by night (English) and Ibhubesi uMacabanga (IsiZulu)

  • Storytelling Session Seven

    Bongani Godide / Why the Snake fears the Ostrich (English) and  Ingulube engalaleli (IsiZulu)

  • Storytelling Session Eight

    Malefu Mahloane / Tsilane (Sesotho) and Why porcupine has quills (English)

  • Storytelling Session Eight

    Malefu Mahloane / Tsilane (Sesotho) and Why porcupine has quills (English)

  • Storytelling Session Nine

    Dina Christiaan / / änib aib / guiba #nôa (Nama) and Die klip op die slang (Afrikaans)

  • Storytelling Session Ten

    Martelize Faber / Sneeuwitjie en die sewe dwergies (Afrikaans) and Die takkie wat nie wou knak nie (Afrikaans)

    Margaret Auerbach / Puppet Show (English)

  • Storytelling Session Eleven

    Madoda Ndlakuse / A day with Onez (English) and Ndiziva ndixhaphazekile (isiXhosa)

  • Puppet Show Session Twelve

    Margaret Auerbach / Puppet Show: The Magic Ball (English)

  • Storytelling Session Thirteen

    Craig Urbani / Where’s my mom? (English) and Thembile Tshuma / The Stone Soup (English)

  • Storytelling Session Fourteen

    Nozindaba / The Princess and the Frog (English & isiNdebele)

  • Storytelling Session Fifteen

    Craig Urbani / How the Zebra Got its Stripes (English) and Dina Christiaan / (Nama)

  • Storytelling Session Sixteen

    Thembile Tshuma / The Greedy Baboon (English) and Raquel Munn / The Ugly Duckling (English) 

  • Storytelling Session Seventeen

    Raquel Munn / The Milliner (English) and Dina Christiaan / Die Leeu en die jakkals (Afrikaans)