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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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Otosirieze is deputy editor of Brittle Paper. He is a judge for the 2018/19 Gerald Kraak Prize and the 2019 Miles Morland Writing Scholarships. He is an editor at 14, Nigeria’s first queer art collective, which has published volumes including We Are Flowers (2017) and The Inward Gaze (2018). He is the curator of the Art Naija Series, a sequence of e-anthologies of writing and visual art focusing on different aspects of Nigerianness, including Enter Naija: The Book of Places (2016), which explores cities, and Work Naija: The Book of Vocations (2017), which explores professions. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review and Transition. He has completed a collection of short stories, You Sing of a Longing, is working on a novel, and is represented by David Godwin Associates literary agency. He combined English and History at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, is completing a postgraduate degree in African Studies, and taught English at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu. Find him at otosirieze.com, where he accepts writing and editing offers, or on Instagram or Twitter: @otosirieze. When bored, he Googles Rihanna.

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