Nthati Mabena from South africa

Nthati Mabena from South Africa

Could you tell us about yourself and your background? 

My name is Nthati, and I am a young African leader. I am passionate about African development through servant leadership, human rights, art, design, and media. I am currently completing my Honours Degree in Anthropology at the University of Pretoria and gently figuring my career out. 
What prompted you to participate in #libraryselfie2021, and how did you feel when you emerged as one of the winners? 
I was quite proud of myself for being vulnerable online and putting myself out there to express my desire to win the competition and carry out a library project. I was a little disappointed that I did not win the first-place prize, as I really wanted to empower the students of Vukani Mawethu High School through a revamped library. However, this completely changed, and I was elated when the first-place prize was kindly conferred to me by the original winner, Mapula. From then on, I felt a great sense of responsibility, as I wanted to empower the students that would be a part of my library project. I also felt a sense of pride and joy as I was given the opportunity to do so. 
How has participating in #libraryselfie2021 contributed to your passion for reading and learning? 
The competition has contributed to my passion for learning by making me aware of other young Africans who love reading, are passionate about literacy and imagination, and care about preserving libraries. 
As a #libraryselfie2021 winner in your country, how do you plan to continuously contribute to improving learning and reading through libraries? 
Since I was a child, I found comfort and joy in reading stories, whether it be stories of my favourite struggle heroes from Chris van Wyk’s South African Freedom Fighters series, poetry, or fictional stories about anything, reading time was always a fun time, and I found myself reading whenever I could so I could have fun all the time. Later on, reading and writing became portals for me to express my creativity and thoughts, and I ended up choosing to study Social Science, which requires me to read and write all the time. Without libraries, I would not have been able to make any of this happen, and I would not have the skills, opportunities and curiosity I have today.  

Beyond this competition, I will continue to have memberships to my local and university libraries through the alumni programme. I have also set my library project up in a way that allows longevity. I have a passion for social entrepreneurship, and I hope to use this library project as a test or prototype for a library pop-up service that will empower children at schools in townships across Pretoria. 
Goethe-Institut awarded you a 200 Euro mini-grant to implement a mini project in your community. Could you give us an insight into your project and what you hope to achieve with it? 

The COVID-19 pandemic has destroyed extracurricular activities of school pupils at Vukani Mawethu Secondary school. The children are idle after school and have no reason to be at school other than for class and exams. For this reason, I want to set up a mini library at Vukani Mawethu Secondary School through a bookshelf stacked with books, thereby revamping the library for usage by the school pupils and teachers. My project will clean up and rejuvenate the existing library at this school and provide it with new books to the value of 200 Euros that the pupils will be able to use. The library coordinator of the school will continue to look after the library once I have implemented the project. This will impact the students by giving them a new opportunity for learning through the experience of reading non-academic texts or reading for leisure. It will also give them a safe space during break or after school if they have difficulty socializing or dealing with their home environment.