Mandela Day container library opens in one of SA’s oldest townships

  • Uploaded on 26 February 2013

A brightly coloured library unit that was painted to reflect the colours of the South African flag.

Galeshewe is a township located in South Africa’s Northern Cape province. Named after Kgosi Galeshewe, a late chief of the Tlhaping tribe, the township is one of South Africa’s oldest informal settlement areas.

Montshiwa Primary School lies within the township area and is the most recent recipient of a Mandela Day container library, which was sponsored by LegalWise.

On 22 February 2013 learners, parents and teachers gathered at the school to celebrate the official opening of the 24th container library, a brightly coloured library unit that was painted to reflect the colours of the South African flag.  

The event began with Principal Mogorosi welcoming representatives of the Provincial Department of Education, LegalWise, the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory and Breadline Africa to the school.

The young learners at Montshiwa Primary School eagerly await the opening of the library.

She said the library had added a spark to the school, adding that “the leaders of tomorrow will grow out of today”. She assured guests that writers, authors, TV presenters, journalists, playwrights and leaders would come out of the library.

Puleng Phooko, of Breadline Africa, then spoke about International Mother Language Day, which is celebrated annually on 21 February, and the challenge of obtaining reading material in local languages. She explained how organisations such as Biblionef help the project with regard to sourcing books in a variety of local languages.

Ms Phooko spoke of the success of the project through the partnership formed with Soul Buddyz, LegalWise, Room to Read and the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory. She warned the school that this would not be the last they would see of Breadline, as follow-up visits would be made to determine use of the container library.

Frank Meintjies, of the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, commended the community for being active in attempts to face its own challenges, citing the painting of the school as a good example of the community working together.

He also noted that Eunice Gaseitsiwe, the teacher librarian at Montshiwa, had already attended last year’s librarian training; this meant the school was ready and committed to taking control of the container library initiative. Mr Meintjies said that once the library was up and running, learners should be allowed to take books home.

“The aim is not to make sure books stay neat and clean, but to make sure they are being used,” he said. 

The Montshiwa Primary field band entertained guests with music and dancing.

Lesley Haynes, of LegalWise, said how pleased she was to have travelled all the way from Johannesburg to be welcomed by such attentive learners. Ms Haynes spoke about the amount of work that goes into negotiation, bargaining, selecting and placing a container library at a school. She said that she was amazed at what had been done with the library.

“This is the joy of being involved with projects like this. It is wonderful to see the Department of Education embracing the project as well,” she added.

She said that LegalWise, which funded the container library fully and also purchased books for the library, would soon be back to view the fruits of their labour. 

Mr Joe Mpuang, of the Department of Education’s provincial and information services, expressed how wonderful it was to be part of a ceremony of this nature. He recalled how not so long ago, a similar library was launched at Valspan Primary School in the same province.

He recalled that it was half a century ago when he himself walked through the gates of Montshiwa as a learner. At the time the first thing he was taught was puo [language]. He said that a library is an essential part of development, and that Montshiwa should practise offering the right book at the right time to the right child.

“In doing so, we build the confidence of the learners, and with confidence a child will not falter in life,” he added.

Ms Gaseitsiwe, Montshiwa’s teacher librarian, was pleasantly surprised to see many ex-colleagues and retired colleagues at the opening of the library. She expressed delight at having received a container library, as this presented an opportunity for learners to dream big. She challenged the learners to take their lives in their own hands, and to bear in mind that those who visit the library often are going to lead the way.

The Chairman of the school governing board, Mr Boitumelo Mokunupi, gave a vote of thanks. He thanked the partners who had made the container library possible.

The Montshiwa Primary field band then entertained the guests with music and dancing.

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