Calling all children for storytime with Ma Gcina
Africa’s legendary story-teller Gcina Mhlope will keep children educationally entertained for 10 days during the COVID-19 lockdown with a daily five-minute online story.
Private higher education MANCOSA’s School of Education has partnered with the Gcinamasiko Arts and Heritage Trust to get Mhlope, the world-renowned actress, playwright, storyteller and author, to keep children captivated with her iconic voice and knack of storytelling.
Professor Zaheer Hamid, academic director at MANCOSA and head of the School of Education, said audio recordings of the storytelling series will be available free of charge on MANCOSA’s website (www.mancosa.co.za) from 20 April to 1 May 2020. The stories will also be available on MANCOSA’S social media pages – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.
He said keeping children occupied during the lockdown could prove quite a challenge. While some schools were sending out work, many children who were feeling the impact of the current global catastrophe needed a digital diet that was both light-hearted and uplifting.
“Lockdown must not only be about schoolwork for children. They also need time to set their minds free to imagine, dream and indulge in creativity.
“Our children have been in isolation for the past three weeks. The first couple of days were spent delighting in their newly found freedom out of school. But then what?
“As part of our humanitarian activities aimed at giving back to communities during the pandemic, we decided to focus on children by keeping them entertained with stories, even if only for a few minutes each day for 10 days,”
Hamid said, adding MANCOSA was fortunate to secure award-winning Mhlope as a narrator.
Mhlope said she had chosen stories with an African theme and would deliberately expose children to a wide vocabulary and provide them with verbal and mental stimuli – something they would be missing since the closing of schools.
“I have specifically chosen stories that will take children’s minds somewhere else during these dark and gloomy
days,” said Mhlophe.
Mhlophe has cultivated a career spanning several decades of telling stories since first being influenced by her grandmother’s tales when she was a child.
Mhlophe’s written and performance talent has transported her from South Africa to South and North America to Europe, Greenland and Japan. She has performed her stories in theatres like Royal Albert Hall, the Kennedy Centre in the US and collaborated with Ladysmith Black Mambazo on a children’s CD.
She again worked with Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Francis Bebey quartet in a unique production, Africa at the Opera, which toured Opera houses in Germany.
Mhlophe has worked tirelessly running NOZINCWADI Mother of Books Literacy Campaign since 2001, to help make South Africa a Reading Nation.
The storytelling endeavour by MANCOSA also finds connection with its founder Professor Yusuf Karodia’s belief that reading is an essential ingredient for children to improve their literacy, further their education and to brighten their future.
Through the Yusuf Karodia Foundation, he has launched the “Million Books Project” which aims to provide more than a million books to school children across South Africa through mobile libraries.