On Sunday 11 June 2023, Professor Mpho Ngoepe, the Director of UNISA’s  School of Arts, completed his Comrades Marathon in 6 hours 39 minutes and 15 seconds, smashing his personal best by more than 10 minutes. This placed him among the top 200 in a field of 14 896 runners who completed the race and earned him a silver medal, a remarkable achievement for a part-time runner and full-time academic. 

By completing his 10th Comrades, Professor Ngoepe earned his place on the coveted Green Number Roll of Honour reserved for those who have either won the race three times or won five gold medals or successfully completed 10 Comrades Marathons. His Green Number was presented to him by none other than 2012 Comrades winner and multiple gold medalist Ludwick Mamabolo, whose biography he wrote.

Professor Ngoepe devoted his 2023 Comrades Marathon  to a fundraiser to turbo boost efforts to promote children’s books in indigenous languages. He has been a driving force behind the collaboration between the Puku Children’s Literature Foundation, the language advocacy organisation, ILIFA (Indigenous Languages Initiative for Advancement), and UNISA. This collaboration addresses three intersecting societal challenges – the literacy/reading crisis, the marginalisation of indigenous languages and the digital divide.

The significance of the collaboration’s efforts was further reinforced at the launch of the National Reading Barometer on 13 June. Among the major factors identified by the NRB to promote reading was ““more interesting, free, relatable material in preferred languages” would help adults read with children more. Other findings showed that whilst English was almost fully represented with 97% of speakers of the language having at least one book at home in that language, indigenous languages trailed far behind: for example, IsiXhosa and IsiZulu led African languages at 68%, Sesotho at 52%, and isiNdebele trailing at 18%. Thank you to all those who donated to the #RacingForOurLanguages Campaign and those who are yet to donate. We are delighted that Ntobeko Shezi, a past auditor of Puku, will provide financial oversight of the funds raised through the #RacingForOurLanguages campaign. 

Donations are welcome until 30th June. Donations can be made to Puku via our  online pay system (click here for Puku’s Payfast) or via bank-to-bank EFT to our current / checking account at Nedbank: 1007 111 917, Branch Code 169745, SWIFT Code NEDSZAJJ, Address 51-81 Main Road, Rondebosch Village, 1st floor, Shop 4, Rondebosch, Cape Town, 7700. 

You may also reach the #RacingForOurLanguages campaign hotline via voice call or WhatsApp: 079 267 7469 during business hours. Your support is greatly appreciated.