Ramaphosa’s SONA failed to detail state’s plan for artists
By Dr Tshepo Mvulane Moloi
This year’s State of the Nation Address (Sona) 2021, delivered by the fallible President Cyril Ramaphosa, continues to justifiably receive critique, mostly revolving around trepidations about lack of information about the government’s plans.
The first concern has to do with sparse details, about government’s plans to overcome Covid-19 which has locally pestered us since its advent last year, in March.
The second concern has to do with the government’s sparse details, about its plans to address numerous matters, which have arisen post SONA 2020. For the susceptible South African public, the source of the latter misery, seemingly stems from the government’s futile economic recovery plans.
For people like myself, keen about plans regarding prospects about the “arts” and artists, the above two concerns although valid, somehow make light of the paltry reference SONA 2021 has made to the ministries of arts and culture, basic education and higher education. The latter trio were, execrably mentioned in passing. This is baffling when considering, that 35-year old black writer and performer, Siphokazi Jonas opened Sona 2021 by reciting her mesmeric poem, What does not sink.
Given that Jonas is deservedly trending lately, I wish to focus on another black writer, Michelle Nkamankeng.
Michelle’s feats, as one of South Africa’s local incipient authors, are resounding for a juvenile. This 12-year old starlet of literature was born on December 23 2008, in Gauteng.
She is a Grade 7 pupil at Sacred Heart College in Observatory, Gauteng. Her proud parents are Paul and Lauritine “Lolo” Nkamankeng. The latter is also her manager. Michelle is the third child of four siblings. According to her mum, Michelle began showing interest in reading, at the tender age of 4, then from 5 years old she progressed to take an avid interest, in writing.
Her quest of writing children’s books began when she was 6 years old. Such an early venture into writing has earned her an avalanche of awards.
The uppermost award, worth a special mention, is the rare accolade, of being South Africa’s and Africa’s youngest author in 2018. This has catapulted her, as one of South Africa’s looming littérateurs, in the category of being placed among child authors, ranked in the top 10% globally.
Titles of Michelle’s children’s books include Waiting for the Waves (2016), The Little Girl Who Believes in Herself (2018) and The Little Mouse (2019).
In brief, the initial book “is about a little girl who loved the ocean and the big waves” (Nkamankeng, 2016) and is a “story that highlights the contradictions of emotions”.
The second book is “about a little girl, who after conquering her fear, starts gaining confidence and begins dreaming big about what she wants to be in life. The third book is about an “exciting cat and mouse game”.
The author’s then-school principal, Colin Northmore wrote the foreword to the first book and Professor Jonathan Jansen, who is a distinguished professor of education at Stellenbosch University did the same, for the second and third books.
The following words are noteworthy: “I am inspired by this jewel of a child. She could not have come onto the national stage as a child author at a more critical time in our history. The story of her life is simple – every child can read and write” (Jansen, 2018:7).
The fourth book, is titled The Golden Ring but is not yet published.
This author has astonishingly remarked in manifold interviews that she is busy with what would in time be counted, as her eighth book.
The lack of detail from SONA 2021 for artists, keeps even buddying creatives such as Michelle Nkamankeng in the dark.
* The views expressed here are not necessarily those of The Star or IOL.