Today is World Book Day! It is an event that is organised annually by UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) to promote reading, publishing, and the understanding and use of copyright. It is officially called World Book And Copyright Day by UNESCO and is also known as the International Day Of The Book. The first World Book Day was celebrated on 23 April in 1995 and it continues to be recognised on this day every year with book-related celebrations all over the world.

The World Book Day website says: “Reading for pleasure is the single biggest indicator of a child’s future success – more than their family circumstances, their parents’ educational background or their income.”

The Puku Children’s Literature Foundation celebrates our South African writers who provide literature for our children to read for pleasure in their own language.

The cover of !Qhoi n|a Tjhoi (Tortoise And Ostrich)
The cover of !Qhoi n|a Tjhoi (Tortoise And Ostrich), by Katrina Esau, featuring art by Stanley Grootboom.

Today Puku would especially like to celebrate Katrina Esau, affectionately known as Ouma Katrina, who is the author of the delightful folk tale !Qhoi n|a Tjhoi (Tortoise And Ostrich). This trilingual picture book about Ostrich and Tortoise, which has been written in Nǀuu, with Afrikaans and English translations, is the very first children’s book to have been written in the Nǀuu language. Children will be inspired by the wily antics of the tortoise and the humorous illustrations by renowned artist Stanley Grootboom.

Who is Ouma Katrina? Katrina Esau was born on a farm near Olifantshoek in the Northern Cape in 1933. Now in her late 80s, she learnt the ancient, indigenous language of Nǀuu at her mother’s knee. Ouma Katrina and her brother Simon Sauls are the only mother tongue Nǀuu speakers in the world. Ouma Katrina is fighting to ensure her language survives into the next generation by teaching younger people the language. In 2014 Katrina Esau was awarded the Order Of The Baobab in Silver for her services to language by the president of South Africa at that time.

On this World Book Day Ouma Katrina is indeed our heritage hero. Puku is thrilled to announce that the Nǀuu-language book, written by Katrina, has been printed and is in the New Africa Books warehouse waiting to be distributed. Orders for this book can be placed via the Book Circle Capital’s Yoco shopping page.

Puku is looking forward to the book launch in the Northern Cape, in the second half of May 2021, which will be held at a library that was recently built near Ouma Katrina’s home. There will be facilities for live streaming for those who cannot attend in person. (Please watch our social media platforms for further details of this event, which will be announced closer to the time.) We also invite you to find out more about Katrina Esau by viewing our video footage of Ouma Katrina and her family entitled “My Language, My Heritage” on Puku’s YouTube channel.


Katrina Esau