Valanga Khosa told us about growing up in South Africa, not with books but traditional storytelling, an art form which is only common in villages now. His picture book, “Gezani and the Tricky Baboon” came was adapted from one of the stories from his life.
His village had no technology. The first time he rode in a car was when he went to Johannesberg to earn enough money so he could pay for a uniform and school fees. He had to borrow an ID because he was too young to have his own. Luckily the white people couldn’t tell the photo was wrong and he found work in a factory where he was horrified at how much water was wasted in toilets, and was once woken by a whip when he fell asleep.
He joined the ANC to fight against apartheid and ended up having to flee to refugee camps in Mosambique and Swaziland. They were not safe places – Swaziland allowed South African police in to drag refugees back. Valanga survived a kidnap attempt and he told how someone booby trapped his friend’s house with a bomb and he lost an arm. Both of them now travel, speaking to children about what happened, because South Africa doesn’t teach them about the apartheid system that continued until 1994. Valanga’s presentation would not be complete without music, and he showed us some of his instruments, and soon had us singing along.
Valanga Khosa will soon be creating another picturebook, also illustrated by Sally Rippen. For information on his performances see: https://www.facebook.com/Khoza-Entertainment-271188183040435/timeline/