Thokoza resident Nhlanhla Nkosi during Funda Darkie workshop at the Gauteng Archive Centre in Kagiso

By Madali Chibambu

  • The Funda Darkie workshop in Kagiso, West Rand, aims to inspire youth to read and write, featuring guest speaker Nhlanhla Nkosi, who founded the Books in the Black Space book club.
  • Nkosi shared his experiences and the importance of creating and participating in book clubs to combat the challenges faced by underutilised libraries surrounded by taverns.
  • Emphasising storytelling and writing as a legacy of experience, Nkosi called for government intervention and comprehensive support programs to keep youth engaged and in school.

As part of the Youth Month commemoration, 35-year-old Nhlanhla Nkosi was among the hundred young attendees at the Funda Darkie workshop, held at the Gauteng Archive Centre in Kagiso, West Rand. The workshop aimed to inspire youth to read and write books.

Nkosi, from Thokoza in Ekurhuleni, served as a guest speaker, encouraging the youth to engage in reading and writing short stories. He shared the motivation behind founding the Books in the Black Space book club in Thokoza after noticing that learners in grades nine and eleven struggled with reading. The local library, surrounded by more than eleven taverns, was underutilised by the youth.

“I lost hope and confidence in the library because it was surrounded by taverns. Most libraries close by 4 pm, and many students are still at school, so by the time they arrive, the library is closed,” Nkosi explained.

He highlighted that some book clubs are better equipped than libraries, as public library books are often stolen and not updated. In contrast, book clubs receive sponsorships and donations from companies.

“We are tired of talk shows. Today’s youth are in a tough situation, but I encourage them to start their own book clubs. It’s not difficult, and they should stay away from television,” Nkosi urged.

Nkosi also emphasised the importance of writing books instead of only reading those by international authors. “Telling stories is valuable because they become a legacy of experience. They help others process and tell their stories, which can be healing and allows us to move forward rather than being stuck in the past.”

He noted that the lack of physical learning opportunities and economic distress have caused many youths to become disengaged and drop out of school. Nkosi stressed the need for government intervention, in partnership with key stakeholders, to design and implement comprehensive support programmes for the youth.

Picture taken by: Eric Malema

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