Book Club
Sindeka Mandoyi started the Chosi-chosi book club in 2019 to share her passion for reading. The club caters for young children from Philippi. Photo: Sandiso Phaliso

Philippi resident Sindeka Mandoyi started the Chosi-chosi book club in 2019 to share her passion for reading


Philippi, South Africa (13 October 2023) — Every Saturday a small shack in Philippi, Cape Town, is brought to life with the sound of children’s laughter as they are read books from fairytales to stories with arithmetic.

“Everybody stand up and let’s count one, two, three, four!” shouts Sindeka Mandoyi to a room of about ten young children who immediately jump up and start jiggling around. Mandoyi explains that this action helps stimulate the children and helps them get ready for the reading session.

Mandoyi, 29, founded the Chosi-chosi Book Club in Philippi in 2019. In isiXhosa, chosi-chosi is usually how someone would begin telling a story — the equivalent of “once upon a time”.

The book club meets every Saturday between noon and 2 pm in a small shack just a few metres from her home. Mandoyi, who works as a marketing writer, says she started the book club because she wanted to share her love of reading with the young children in Philippi.

“I love books. Growing up, just like now, there are no book clubs in the township. Hearing that children can’t read for meaning cannot be taken lightly. I couldn’t just sit and watch, especially knowing that there is something that I can do about it. So that is how the book club started,” says Mandoyi.

The shack that Mandoyi uses belongs to the parent of one of her book club members. “It’s been quite difficult getting a proper space. Ideally, I would like a container that I can put somewhere,” says Mandoyi.

She currently funds the book club and children’s excursions from her own pocket. “Some books have been donated by friends, colleagues, Nal’ibali and Book Dash, but others I have bought myself.”

During GroundUp’s recent visit, the children gathered on a mattress on the floor which was covered by a blanket. The story of the day was The mouse, the cock and the cat. Afterwards, Mandoyi led them in a spelling exercise based on information in the story.

A short wooden plank balanced on two concrete bricks is the book shelf, with about a dozen children’s books which include The Fox and the GrapesWandaSeldom and Sebenza. The walls of the shack are covered with pictures of shapes, fruit and vegetables and words in different languages.

Mandoyi says she gets a lot of support from parents, and some have even asked her to tutor their children privately. She says all children are welcome to join, but she would like to focus on lessons for children in grades 2 and 3 from next year.

“I try to incorporate different ways of learning in our sessions and not just reading. We do things like singing, dancing before a session just to wake up the body and go on excursions. Recently I took them to the movies to see The Little Mermaid,” says Mandoyi.

Mandoyi’s dream is to grow the Chosi-chosi Book Club and expand to other townships like Khayelitsha.

Sources: GroundUp
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Ashleigh Nefdt is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Ashleigh's favourite stories have always seen the hidden hero (without the cape) come to the rescue. As a journalist, her labour of love is finding those everyday heroes and spotlighting their spark - especially those empowering women, social upliftment movers, sustainability shakers and creatives with hearts of gold. When she's not working on a story, she's dedicated to her canvas or appreciating Mother Nature.

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