If you were having coffee with me, we would be catching up with Gogo Alice and the team from Sarura Kids.
Sarura Kids is a channel that teaches kids (and grownups too) Shona lessons online. They have books and learning aides tailor-made for kids under 7. Frustrated with how living abroad, their young generation was losing touch with language and culture with the constant immersion in visual and audio media that was in every language but Shona, they decided to do something about it, and that became Sarura Kids.
*Gogo Alice’s responses are in the video above and also got insights from Rose one of the team behind Sarura Kids.
Coffee Or Tea
I have a terrible habit. Every morning the first drink that I have has got to be a coffee. I can’t function without one. And then after that, I’m just not remotely interested in caffeine. Mostly decaf tea after that or water. My coffee literacy begins and ends with first thing in the morning instant I’m afraid.
Tell us about yourself and how you came to do this project.
I’m part of the team behind Sarura Kids. Our main focus is to make the Shona language as well as STEM subjects more exciting and accessible to kids.
We quickly discovered that there are just not that many Zimbabwean books for kids of a certain age. So we decided to skill up and write some ourselves.
What do you hope these books achieve?
Something we observed a lot being in the diaspora is that kids don’t readily speak our native tongues even if they are being spoken at home. We are in an age where there is a glut of entertainment that is readily available. But there is still a great dearth of Zimbabwean entertainment for kids.
For us, books are super important and tonnes of fun. We all love reading. And we read a lot with our kids. We hope these books will get younger children more enthusiastic about learning Shona because they are created specifically for them.
Who should read these book?
Anyone who is interested in learning Shona.
Anyone who enjoys feel-good stories.
Anyone who likes wacky laugh out loud stories for kids.
Anyone who enjoys reading – no matter what age.
How’s been the getting published experience… Challenges, Wins, Lessons
Oh wow! That is a huge question!
We are presently in a brilliant age where there is more focus on cultural representation around the world. There is a wave of change that is sweeping a great many nations.
But when it comes to the print and media industries there are still so many sometimes head-bangingly frustrating barriers:
•A lot of companies have ‘recognised’ languages that they will print.
•Some companies will only host video or audio content that is in English.
•Which means that you very often get used to being rejected.
The greatest motivator has been that things are changing. And because they are, we keep on knocking on doors. We have had to be pretty creative in how we approach people, offering solutions to anticipated rejections, taking terms that leave us disadvantaged.
But our main focus is to get something out there that will put a smile on people’s faces. It’s really our driving force and our passion. We want families to be able to read our books, or watch our videos together and connect over the experience of discovering Zimbabwe.
Eventually, it will get easier. And if it doesn’t we’ll get better able at navigating the terrain.
People say we don’t have a reading culture what are your thoughts and what should we do?
Haha! This is a great one.
For my part, I love to read. I love to read, and most of my life’s explorations begin with a book. When I was younger I used to read tonnes with my grandfather. We really bonded over that. He had a library kumusha – just a room kitted out with his shelves and books – but it began my lifelong passion for books and the escapism of storytelling.
From what I understand the culture of reading from a book together with parents is still not widely embraced. I am not sure whether people still indulge in telling stories after dinner as they relax, or that is also a thing of the past?
What I have observed – and I could be wrong – is that there is a societal shift in what parenting means for the modern Zimbabwean. I feel that it is possible that parents are now more open to engaging in storytime with their kids. After all, we are no longer living in big communities, and the shared responsibilities of parenting are now falling solely on the parents’ shoulders.
We know how stressful that can be. After all, as parents we want our kids to have the opportunities in life that we dream for them. But we still want to pass on our heritage and culture to them.
We want to make that easier for parents.
So even if parents aren’t able to read to their kids, we are making some of our books available in video format. It can be as simple as pressing play and leaving them to it. We have so many ngano (Shona folk tales) from Gogo Alice as well as this and upcoming books on our Youtube channel.
We know how tough it can be sometimes as a parent with the many expectations of your day. Sometimes all you want to do is have some mental downtime. Reading a story together is a lowkey bonding activity that focuses little minds and helps them to slow down at the end of their day. So whether you read to them or they watch one of our videos, we just want to take some of that mental pressure away from parents.
And lastly shout-out to people who have made this project a reality. Thank You