Titled “Thoko Vuka! Thoko Muka”, Nomusa Ndebele’s new children’s book is a new effort to preserve Zimbabwe’s two most prominent native languages.
Although based on an old and popular Ndelebe nursery rhyme, the colour filled book is written in both Ndebele and Shona, and become a brainchild of Ndebele’s after the writer struggled to find Ndelebe children books for her nieces and nephews. The book, which is the first in a series of Zimbabwean focused children’s books, tells the story of a little Zimbabwean girl named Thoko who is living in the diaspora with her trusted stuffed elephant sidekick “Zou-Zou.” Thoko and Zou-Zou go on an adventurous journey where they both learn about Zimbabwe’s rich heritage and culture, in a fun-filled way.
Speaking on the book, Ndebele said “We believe that our African languages matter, our African heritage is worth preserving, our stories are worth telling. So we should tell them, especially to our children and in our vernacular. This is why Thoko Vuka! Thoko Muka!matters. It is the first step in realizing our dream of seeing entire shops—physical and online—filled with children’s books, movies, toys and games made for Africans by Africans and featuring African vernacular languages.”
In an age where Zimbabwe’s diaspora generation is going through an identity crisis, this book is definitely one way to keep our heritage and language alive. Let us know what you think in the comments below: