About the Puku Foundation

Puku is specifically focussed on children’s literature, education and literacy in Southern Africa. Puku aims to build up a transparent, regularly updated and accurate database of reviews of recreational and educational books and resources for African parents, teachers and librarians in all South African official languages. Puku also organises story Festivals around the country to spread the love of reading.

“In the few years of our existence as Puku, we have come across amazing creativity and innovation in our communities. There is no reason why we should not have a thriving publishing and toy-making industry that addresses the needs of our children and their families. We aim to make the Afri-kids festival a platform that informs, entertains and promotes networking,” says Elinor Sisulu, founder of Puku and Festival Director of the Puku Afri-kids Festival and the Puku Story Festival.

All you need to know about children’s literature from Southern Africa and beyond!

Puku's History

Puku has been the driving force behind the Puku Story Festivals in Grahamstown since 2013.

Established in 2009, the Puku Children’s Literature Foundation (Puku) is a reading promotion and book development organisation that aims to address the acute shortage of children’s literature in all South African languages, and ensure that all children have access to such literature, particularly the most materially deprived and marginalized.

It is a collaborative initiative that facilitates and fosters cooperation amongst and between rights holders, promoters, disseminators and consumers of children’s literature – with a specific focus on indigenous languages.

Puku has been the driving force behind the Puku Story Festivals in Grahamstown since 2013. Implemented in partnership with the National Arts Festival and the African Studies Department at Rhodes University, these festivals aim to facilitate access to literature and educational/recreational materials in isiXhosa. The Puku Story Festival in Grahamstown has been a successful pilot that can be replicated in other languages and regions, either as stand-alone Puku festivals or as children’s literature components of other festivals.

Puku communicates, advocates, networks and participates in the promotion of books, authors, publishers, buyers, and readers of children’s African literature content. This includes language-driven educational resources and recreational materials. Our intentions for the future include establishing online language communities that will be boosted by offline initiatives such as the Puku Story Festival.

Mission and Vision

Our mission  is to bridge both the literacy and the digital divide that confronts the vast majority of Southern African children, by developing dynamic and innovative programmes and projects to improve the quality of children’s books, educational and recreational materials in all Southern African languages.

Our vision is to foster a culture of reading from early childhood that creates avid, lifelong readers who read widely and who value all South African literature and languages.

To advocate for legislation and policies that vigorously promote the value of early childhood reading at national, provincial, regional and local levels, and an education system that integrates reading at the core of its curriculum, at all levels, and encourages reading for pleasure and lifelong learning.

To aid the development of a book sector that supports heightened demand for books and other reading materials amongst learners, with a strong library network backed by an equitable book distribution system that ensures that children from previously disadvantaged communities have access to a wide range of reading material.


Board of Directors

Ms Elinor Sisulu (Executive Director)

Elinor is an award-winning writer and human rights activist with extensive experience in literature and reading promotion activities. Her experience in organisations and institutions at community, government and international level in several countries, has given her insights into ways to overcome the limits and constraints of current practices in order to achieve social change and innovation.

Ms Fazila Montsi (Chairperson)

Fazila is a former practising advocate who lectured in law at the National University of Lesotho as well as the University of Western Cape for many years. Today she is a formidable and inspiring businesswomen who is dedicated to developing South Africa. Fazila is committed to securing new investments in the field of children’s literature in South Africa and beyond.

Professor Lesibana Rafapa

Professor Rafapa was head of the English Department at the University of Venda before moving to his current position of Chair of the Department of English Studies at UNISA. A prolific writer, editor and translator, he has worked for the Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB) on projects to promote marginalised languages and children’s literature in African languages.

Professor Mary Metcalfe

Mary is an educationist at heart, she is highly respected both as an academic and a politician in and around South Africa. Positions she has held include Head of the Wits School of Education, Director-General of the Department of Higher Education, MEC for Education of the Gauteng Provincial Government and Deputy Speaker of the Gauteng Provincial Legislature.

Mr Melvin Kaabwe

Melvin Kaabwe is the Digital Manager of Van Schaik, Southern Africa’s largest academic bookstore chain. His responsibilities include digital strategy, marketing and product development. He has a BSc degree with studies in Engineering, Computer Science and Geographic Information Systems from the University of Natal.

Ms Bontle Senne

Bontle Senne graduated in 2009 with a Bachelor of Commerce (Politics, Philosophy and Economics) from the University of Cape Town. She worked as Sales Marketing and Communications Coordinator for T-Systems, She was Puku Managing Director from 2012 to 2013 before moving to McKinsey as a management consultant.

Ms Dora Jantjie (Treasurer)

Dora is a chartered accountant who holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from Rhodes University. She served her articles with KPMG from 2000 – 2002 and currently works for Dynamic Visual Technologies, a custom software development to business software solutions consulting business of which Dora is the Group Financial Manager.