Ma­suku side­steps lack of funds to tell his story

Sowetan - - JOB MARKET - Nelly Selepe

LACK of funds should not be al­lowed to hold back a good en­tre­pre­neur­ial idea, just as graphic de­signer Siya Ma­suku has shown.

Soweto-born Ma­suku is also an au­thor and il­lus­tra­tor. In 2013 he founded a graphic de­sign com­pany to pro­vide a plat­form for cre­ative in­di­vid­u­als to pro­duce new African sto­ry­books.

He was in­flu­enced by a short­age of books in town­ship schools.

Two years ago he put his skills and tal­ent to good use to pur­sue the idea of writ­ing and il­lus­trate a Zulu sto­ry­book.

Ma­suku ti­tled his project Siya­funda isiZulu, a pic­ture book which was edited by his mother Nxo­bile Nx­u­malo, who teaches Zulu at Em­seni Pri­mary School in Em­n­deni, Soweto.

Though Ma­suku had in­suf­fi­cient funds, he thought he had a work­ing strat­egy to see his self-pub­lish­ing idea through.

“The pro­duc­tion of the book be­gan in Fe­bru­ary 2015. I naively planned to make it a six-month project with the hope that I could get the books printed and de­liv­ered to Em­seni Pri­mary School by July 2015,” he said.

“When June came, I felt the book was ready to pub­lish but I didn’t have the funds for it. The project hit the wall.”

Af­ter a cou­ple of months away from the project, Ma­suku reached out to ex­pe­ri­enced pri­mary school art teach­ers who helped him to de­velop the art­work from a child’s point of view. From their in­put, the book took a dif­fer­ent di­rec­tion and was fi­nally com­pleted in Novem­ber 2015.

In the first half of last year, Ma­suku em­barked on a mis­sion to find ap­pro­pri­ate part­ners to col­lab­o­rate with and to seek fund­ing for the book.

“In July 2016, I cre­ated an on­line crowd fund­ing cam­paign to raise funds to pub­lish the book. In Au­gust the fundrais­ing cam­paign was a suc­cess and Siya­funda isiZulu was launched in Novem­ber at the Puku Afri-Kids Fes­ti­val held in Johannesbu­rg,” Ma­suku said.

The book has English trans­la­tions aimed at help­ing those who can­not read or write Zulu. Plans to make the book avail­able in a dig­i­tal plat­form are also in progress.

Ma­suku, a graphic de­sign grad­u­ate from the Univer­sity of Johannesbu­rg, en­cour­ages oth­ers to ex­plore their po­ten­tial as any­one can write a book be­cause ev­ery­one has a story to tell. Ma­suku’s pas­sion is driven by his be­lief that African au­thors need to pos­i­tively in­flu­ence “our so­cial agenda by telling our own sto­ries”.

He’s also driven by a quote from ac­claimed Nige­rian writer Ben Okri, who wrote: “To poi­son a na­tion, poi­son its sto­ries. A de­mor­alised na­tion tells de­mor­alised sto­ries to it­self.”

PHOTO: RENE SCHOLTZ

Siya Ma­suku, third from left, at the launch of ‘Siya­funda isiZulu’ at the 2016 Puku Afri-Kids Fes­ti­val in Novem­ber.

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