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Courtesy of saanrize

'Thoko Vuka! Thoko Muka!' is the Children's Book Helping Zimbabweans Preserve their Native Languages

Written in both Shona and Ndebele, the colorful children's book is based on a popular Ndebele nursery rhyme.

When her nephews and nieces were born, Nomusa Ndebele was eager to purchase them books that would teach them their native tongue and culture. It's a language that she shares a name with—Ndebele. But she struggled to find many Ndebele children's books and the ones she could find were Eurocentric books whose images, characters and languages did not reflect the realities of her nieces and nephews. It was that experience that led her to establishing the media and entertainment company called saanrize with her friend, Carol Dzingai who also shared her frustrations.


Ndebele recently penned Thoko Vuka! Thoko Muka! which was published by saanrize. The book, which is the first of a series, tells the story of a little Zimbabwean girl named Thoko is living in the diaspora with her trusted sidekick "Zou-Zou", a stuffed elephant that represents her family's totem. Thoko goes on a myriad of adventures with her stuffed elephant and both learn about Zimbabwean culture and African heritage in a fun-filled way.


Courtesy of saanrize

Speaking about her children's book, Ndebele says, "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." Ndebele went on to add that, "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."

Courtesy of saanrize

Thoko Vuka! Thoko Muka! is written in both of Zimbabwe's widely spoken languages—Ndebele and Shona. It is particularly important for Zimbabweans living in the diaspora and often have a difficult time keeping their children rooted in their Zimbabwean heritage, especially when their kids are born outside of the country.

Order the book or request that it be printed in your own language here.

Sports
Photo by Ned Dishman, courtesy of Pops Bonsu.

In Conversation: Meet Pops Mensah-Bonsu—the Ghanaian Former Pro Player Trailblazing the Front Desk of the NBA

We speak to the general manager of the Capital City Go-Go about his journey to professional basketball stardom, his hopes for the Basketball Africa League and more.

Nana Pops Mensah-Bonsu didn't take basketball seriously at first. For the now General Manager of the Capital City Go-Go and a former player in the NBA and European leagues, the game wasn't as exciting as other sports. "For me, I was impressionable," he says, "I was young; all my friends played soccer and ran track. That's what I really wanted to do."

Born and raised in London, England, the former pro with Ghanaian roots (whose name stems from his middle name, Papa—the equivalent to 'junior') grew up playing soccer and running track. His older brother started playing basketball, a relatively invisible sport compared to soccer, when he was about 16 in the early 90s and eventually moved to the U.S. on a scholarship. Mensah-Bonsu says that when parents witnessed his brother's experience, they took it as an opportunity for the rest of their children to do the same—allowing them to have a better opportunity to succeed.

Mensah-Bonsu's dad introduced him to basketball and took him to the other side of London where he started developing his skills. After juggling the three sports with basketball on the back burner, Mensah-Bonsu eventually realized his potential once he made the move stateside himself as a teen. Making a name for himself as a student-athlete at George Washington University, his work ethic led him to a professional career in both the NBA, playing for the likes of the Dallas Mavericks, Minnesota Timberwolves and Toronto Raptors as well as internationally—playing for clubs in Spain, France, Turkey, Russia and Italy, to name a few.

Retiring in his early 30s, Mensah-Bonsu is still a part of the game—but on the decision-making side. Currently serving as the Capital City Go-Go's general manager of the G League (the official minor league of the NBA) in Washington, D.C., he's trying to blaze a trail for more diversity and inclusion in the NBA front office. "I really want to do my best and succeed at this next level because I know how profound and impactful it can be if it's done well," he says. "I put pressure on myself to work extra hard to make sure I can get to this position where I can have that impact on these guys and show them a mirror image of themselves and show them how possible it is."

We caught up with Pops Mensah-Bonsu to learn more about his journey navigating basketball stardom to calling the shots behind the scenes, his hopes for the newly established Basketball Africa League and more in the interview below.

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Music
25K. Photo by Sabelo Mkhabela.

How a 3-Year-Old Song Earned SA Artist 25K a Deal with Universal & a Co-Sign From AKA

We interview 25K, the South African rapper poised to be the country's next star.

AKA was so moved by up-and-coming Pretoria rapper and producer 25K's single "Culture Vulture," he gave him a slot on his monumental Orchestra on the Square concert in March.

"The whole process when Kiernan (AKA's real name) reached out," recalls 25K, who will later admit AKA is one of his favorite artists, "that was like a dream come true for me. We were doing a gig, when I got home, I got a text, and it said, 'Yo, this is Kiernan, hit me back.' So, I saved the number, I was like, 'Yo,' then he FaceTimed me. He was like, '25K, I just had to reach you, dawg. Your song is great,' So, I was out of words. Just listening to him talk to me. He was like, 'Bro, we need to cook up something.' But eventually, time will tell. So the people will get to hear."

Thabiso Khathi, the respected hip-hop head & record label executive popularly known as Hip-Hop Scholar, as well as the newly appointed Head of Urban at Universal Music Group South Africa, lets the cat out of the bag. "I don't know if the world knows that AKA officially jumped on the remix for 'Culture Vulture,' which we will be bringing out in the next few weeks," says Scholar. Today, him and the label have gathered journalists at the Universal Music Group headquarters in Rosebank to witness the young artist's signing.

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News Brief
Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images.

Nigerian-British Actor Susan Wokoma's First Rom-Com Feature Film Is In the Works

She's set to write and star in BBC Films-backed 'Three Weeks'—a rom-com drama about abortion.

Just two months ago, we got wind of Susan Wokoma landing a series regular role in CBS' new comedy pilot, Super Simple Love Story.

The Nigerian-British actor and 2017 BAFTA Breakthrough Brit honoree continues to make power moves in entertainment, as it was recently announced that she's in the process of writing her feature debut, Three Weeks, Variety reports.

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