Adriaan Roets
2 minute read
13 Jul 2015
8:00 am

Mabuse and Mohamed to promote literacy

Adriaan Roets

There are few who rival living legends Sipho "Hotstix" Mabuse and Pops Mohamed when it comes to music.

Sipho Hotstix Mabuse briefs media about Readers R Leaders at the Back O the Moon restaurant in Gold Reef City casino, 9 July 2015. Readers R Leaders is a community based project that aims to promote a culture of reading amongst Primary School children in Westbury and Newclare. They are having a fundraising concert at the Gold Reef City casino to praise funds for the initiative. Picture: Neil McCartney

They’ve been at the production end of some of the country’s most iconic songs and musical pieces and have been lauded for their huge contributions to establishing African music before the fall of apartheid.

This is the stuff that builds egos but instead of parading around with a huge sense of entitlement, Mabuse has something bigger to show off – his library. He is joining forces with Readers R Leaders, a community-based project that aims to promote a culture of reading among primary school children in disadvantaged areas. It aims to dispel the mentality of entitlement, where the government is needed to ensure fulfilled lives.

Readers R Leaders teaches kids to read by providing books, as well as volunteers, to help promote literacy. The result is younger kids with their own consciousness who don’t need others to complete their homework.

“Education and reading helps you to articulate issues,” says Mabuse. He is living proof of the power of reading.

“You have to understand at that time [growing up] education was difficult for us. My interest for reading started in primary school. My father was not an educated man and would come back after work with newspapers, The Bantu World, every day. I then had to read it to him,” says Mabuse.

Apartheid’s interference with black lives caused a rift in his life and Mabusa did not finish school before joining Harari and penning the hit song Burn Out. In 2012, at the age of 60, Mabuse finally completed his matric.

“To empower people, you need to empower through knowledge,” he says. “Reading is the only way to knowledge. There is this misconception that black people don’t read. We do. The mystery is, what is it that black people read?” Programmes such as Readers R Leaders establish ways of determining what material should be read and what stories should be told.

The project was started by Cyril Turton in 2013 after parents and teachers raised concerns about the lack of a reading culture among primary school pupils, which lead to them being unable to keep up with demanding school work. Readers R Leaders provides one-on-one reading assistance and also sets up book clubs in community centres around southwest Johannesburg. Turton teamed with Mabuse and Mohamed to ensure the broader reach of the programme.

The project already runs a street library and a volunteer programme in which adults take time to enhance the reading capabilities in preschoolers. Of course, the initiative needs more support, which is why Mabuse and Mohamed threw their hats into the ring.

They will hit the stage on July 24 at the Lyric Theatre at Gold Reef City for a special music collaboration show.

The funds Mabuse and Mohamed raise will enable Readers R Leaders to buy books, train volunteers and provide it with the necessary tools to further its reading services.