Masuku sidesteps lack of funds to tell his story

- 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.
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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