Nomusa Ndebele’s Children’s Book is Helping Zimbabweans Preserve their Native Languages

Titled “Thoko Vuka! Thoko Muka”, Nomusa Ndebele’s 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.

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 saanrizewith 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.

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

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.


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