Folktales do so much more than convey a moral truth through the power of the written or spoken word. Folktales also pull back the veil on the customs, values, and experiences that shaped the lives of our ancestors. History is hollow without folktales, and the bright embers of our heritage are reduced to a heap of ashes without the art of storytelling.
There are approximately 60 million people in South Africa, the majority of whom speak one or more of the 11 official languages. Those figures have been repeated so many times that they’ve almost been stripped of their impact, which is why many people might not truly grasp the true depth of our beautiful country’s diversity. Luckily, there is an occasion that’s dedicated purely to the parading of South Africa’s cultural diversity: Heritage Day. Anyone who’s ventured past their front door on 24 September is familiar with the sight of their neighbours, colleagues, or loved ones adorned in traditional clothing. Some even take it as an opportunity to explore the multitude of heritage sites across the country.
While these are all great ways to celebrate Heritage Day, there is a different approach South Africans can employ. It starts with recognising a truth many of us do not realise: Heritage Day is about the future, not the past. When those who came before us passed down centuries’ worth of indigenous knowledge from one generation to another, they were looking forward, not backwards. They wanted their successors to take deep gulps from a well of knowledge that would not only give them a sense of identity but help them navigate the world better than they did.
This Heritage Day, you have an opportunity to impart some wisdom to future generations by acquainting your child with a few indigenous folktales. If you don’t know where to start, look no further than Wimpy. Wimpy SA teamed up with Ethnikids, an initiative founded by five moms who wrote books that feature characters of colour in various South African languages. The partnership led to the creation of six South African short stories for kids in all of our 11 official languages. You can get a free storybook for your child with every kids’ combo meal.
Some are reimagined South African folktales passed down from generation to generation, while others are original stories created by local authors. The books offered in-store are written in English, while the Wimpy website features the stories in all 11 official languages. The website also features beautifully illustrated author readings of each indigenous story.
The future is a blank page waiting for a story to spill onto it. Your children will be the main characters. Shape their plot into one that’s worth remembering by empowering them with something only their heritage can give them: A strong sense of self and a wealth of knowledge gathered and shared from previous generations. DM/ML