It all starts with a story | By: Nicole Dunn | Allan Gray Orbis Foundation
It all starts with a story | By: Nicole Dunn

It all starts with a story | By: Nicole Dunn

As part of our Allan Gray Orbis Legacy Project, the Year Experience Candidate Fellows partnered with Nal’ibali (isiXhosa for “here’s the story”) to promote multilingual literacy and a love for reading. As a year group, we value the power of education and cultural relevance in literary development. When looking for a partner to collaborate with, Nal’ibali was the perfect fit. The national organisation aims to foster reading-for-enjoyment among South Africa’s children by training adults to be reading role models and activists; raising awareness about the importance of reading for enjoyment; and producing, translating and distributing books and stories in all South African languages.

Our fundraising campaign ran over a number of months, and donors were given the opportunity to write a personalised inscription to the reader they were supporting. With the help and generosity of our network, we raised enough money to donate a mobile library and box of stationery to Chumisa Primary School in Khayelitsha.

At the hand-over event, we celebrated the efforts of Ms Gcotyelwa Gcogco Mwahleni, an isiXhosa and Creative Arts teacher, who founded a reading club at Chumisa. Sis’ Gcogco, as she is affectionately known, is a role model to the 30 students who attend her reading club each week. She encourages her learners to create plays from the stories she reads, helping to build their confidence and relate the concepts to their own lives. Through her efforts, the students have come to develop a love for reading, participating in community literacy programmes and spelling bee competitions.

Educators like Sis’ Gcocgo are heroes not only to their students, but to the country as a whole. They play a critical role in nurturing young potential and instilling self-belief in children who do not always come from supportive circumstances. We are honoured to recognise and celebrate her commitment to education, and to contribute the resources she needs to grow her reading club initiative.

As a year group, we believe that a legacy is not something that is left for people, but left in people. Through this campaign, we sought to leave a legacy in South Africa’s future readers and leaders, who we hope will grow to share their own stories of success. These narratives have the power to empower and transform communities, by inspiring children to believe in themselves, and that their dreams are possible.

After all, it all starts with a story.


Nal’ibali currently has 2 179 reading clubs active in all 9 provinces that reach 64 609 children. To date, it has trained 14 689 people to be reading champions for children/to support children’s literacy development. To find out more about the exceptional work that the organisation does, visit their website ( or Facebook page (@nalibaliSA).

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