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Zukiswa Wanner. Photo from author’s Facebook page.

For the 2018 World Read Aloud Day, the literacy advocate group Nal’ibali commissioned the South African novelist Zukiswa Wanner to write a story, “The Final Minute,” which has now been translated into South Africa’s official 11 languages for the February 1 event, to be read aloud to children. The languages are: Afrikaans, Sotho, Sotho, Swazi, English, Ndebele, Northern  Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa, and Zulu.

The decision came after a Progress in International Literacy Study (PIRLS) report revealed that “78 percent of South African fourth graders cannot read for meaning in any language,” and this, writes Wanner, “despite education being one of the ministries that consistently gets a bigger chunk of the national budget annually.”

“The Final Minute” is about “a football-loving future Bafana Bafana player and his best friend who hope to lead South Africa to winning the World Cup championship.” The story, it is hoped, will inculcate reading for enjoyment in a million South African children.

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About Otosirieze Obi-Young

View all posts by Otosirieze Obi-Young
Otosirieze Obi-Young is a writer, an academic, and Deputy Editor of Brittle Paper. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review ("Mulumba," 2016), Transition ("A Tenderer Blessing," 2015), and in an anthology of the Gerald Kraak Award ("You Sing of a Longing," 2017), for which he was shortlisted. His work has further been shortlisted for the Miles Morland Writing Scholarship in 2016 and a Pushcart Prize in 2015. His conversations appear in Africa in Dialogue, Bakwa, SPRINNG, and Dwartonline. He is the curator of the Art Naija Series, a sequence of themed e-anthologies of writing and visual art exploring different aspects of Nigerianness. The first, Enter Naija: The Book of Places (October 2016), focuses on Nigerian cities. The second, Work Naija: The Book of Vocations (June 2017), focuses on professions in Nigeria. He studied history and literature at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, is currently completing a postgraduate programme in African Studies, and teaches English at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu. When bored, he just Googles Rihanna.

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

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