A reading competition at Heideveld library evolved into more than just vying for the top spot, as pupils were also inspired by motivational talks from the judges.
Grade 7 pupils from six schools in Heideveld competed in the Afrikaans and English categories, and the top three pupils were awarded, based on their reading abilities, comprehension and spelling.
A total of 21 pupils were part of the event, which took place on Thursday May 11. In the end, Marsha de Beer from Welcome Primary won the Afrikaans category. Jaydene Ockhuis from Woodlands Primary came in second place, and Mogamat Davids from Heideveld Primary was placed third.
For English, Kaylee Scholtz from Willows Primary took the top spot, followed by Noni Fasi-Xokelelo from St Theresa’s Primary in second place, and Ayandiswa Mbidlana from Heideveld Primary came in third place.
Just before the winners were announced, John Fredericks, the writer of the acclaimed movie, Noem my Skollie, shared some of his life story with the children, encouraging them not to give up on their dreams.
“I was born in Kewtown in 1945. We were very poor, but to us that was normal, as everybody was poor. My father used to work at a refuse dump, and I used to go there often to search for any kind of reading material – books, magazines and newspapers. When you read, it opens your mind to other worlds and cultures,” Mr Fredericks said.
He added that his love for reading and storytelling opened up opportunities for him, even when he landed up in prison.
“At primary school I used to write the best compositions, and on the street corners, I told the best stories. My life took a wrong turn and I ended up in prison, and it was my storytelling that made things more bearable for me in prison. The guys used to pay me to tell stories in prison, and that’s when I realised I could make money from it. If you can read and write, then you can dream. People often told me that I would never be able to become a writer, as only white people could do that – not a coloured gangster, but I did not allow that to deter me. My short stories and poems were published. In the year 2000, I did my first documentary and this project took me to Italy. I was so determined to make an overseas trip, that I got my passport two years before. I believed I could fly.”
He also urged the children not to take their schooling for granted.
“This time of your life – being at school – must be the best time of your life. Be excited for school. Be your own hero. Don’t limit yourself – dream big and rise above the township, the poverty and gangsterism.”
Radio Tygerberg presenter, Rosebud Tsobane, told the children she also grew up poor.
“The only time I wore school shoes was during winter. We carried our books in plastic bags. You cannot allow where you come from to define what you’ll become one day. I never knew that I’d become a radio presenter – all I knew was that I liked to read, talk and explore,” Ms Tsobane said.
She also told the children to work hard, be humble, learn and read.
“Nothing beats reading. In order for you to become successful in life, you must empower yourself with knowledge. Reading broadens your horizons and increases your vocabulary,” she said.
Miss South Africa finalist, Delmaine van Niekerk, also inspired the children with her poetry reading.
Librarian Gillian Christians and chairperson of the Friends of the Heideveld Library, Cameren Lang, worked tirelessly behind the scenes to make the event a success. They thanked all the sponsors who helped to make it possible.