Author profile: Lebohang Masango

by Kelesitse Mokgatlhe
December 2018

There looms an unfortunate societal narrative – a constructed façade if you will – that people of colour do not have a culture of reading, albeit we could argue the size and nature of systematic constructs that have historically contributed to a deliberate retention of resources from black communities, and the damaging effects of said structures, but that is a story for another day.

In this moment,  we are unpacking children’s literature writer Lebohang Masango’s endearing storytelling sessions at the Abantu Book Festival – blowing all untrue reading culture narratives right out of the hellish abyss from whence it came.

Her self-published Mpumi’s Magic Beads (Thank You Books, 2017) is a thoughtfully written children’s book about friendship, self-esteem, discovery and beautiful hair.

A children’s book author, poet and social commentator Lebohang Masango has not only an impressive academic repertoire of work that is rooted in her love for jazz, passion for social anthropology and the city of Johannesburg, but her interests have also allowed her to bridge the gap between popular culture, new digital media and social commentary.

Whilst at the festival, I walked past a rather large tent area, and in it were those little plastic chairs that you find at kiddies’ parties – lots of them. Okay, so kiddies’ corner, but then what?

Even with her catalogue of scholastic feats, what stood out the most at this year’s Abantu Book Festival was Masango’s ability to share an energetic and wholehearted storytelling of her children’s book, Mpumi’s Magic Beads, to an audience of enthralled and engaged kiddies.

Reminiscent of Mam’Gcina Mhlope’s storytelling method, I, too, followed Masango to the Kid’s Zone with some delighted little boys and girls, as we embarked on a magic bead adventure. Beautifully animated and enthusiastically told, we saw the world through Mpumi, Asante and Tshiamo’s eyes – outside of the classroom.  

Well on the way to showing children not only to love themselves through reading, Mpumi, Asante & Tshiamo lift each other up through the wondrous possibilities of friendship in the beautifully city of Johannesburg.

Children of colour do read, because of the commitment and passion of children’s literature authors such as Masango, who bring storytelling to life.

Re a leboha (Thank you)!