The National Library of South Africa hosts the 11th Funda Mzansi Championship

“The books being used are from 11 selected titles in all official languages, in fact some of the titles are from our recently initiated project of cross-translation from our Reprint of South African Classics Project.” Ms Nokuthula Musa; Executive Director:  Core Programmes something doesn’t read well, I just don’t know how to rephrase it

Reading is fun – this was testament in the four-day reading competition organised by the National Library of South Africa (NLSA) from 4 October until 7 October 2021.  The Funda Mzantsi Championship (FMC) is an annual reading competition that gives the opportunity to book clubs across the country to compete against one another.  The NLSA has been hosting FMC since 2010 with the objective of inculcating a culture of reading for enjoyment in South Africa.  In its 11th year, the 2021 Championship was hosted in partnership with the Department of Correctional Services. 

The global outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated that we adapt and therefore the 2021 Championship was hosted in a hybrid format. As part of adapting to the new way of doing things, the NLSA and partners had to reduce the intake of book clubs participating in the 11th Hybrid FMC in order to comply with the Covid-19 Regulations.  Each province was permitted to be represented by 6 book clubs and each region from the dept. of Correctional service was allowed only 3 book clubs.  This hybrid event model saw the activation/ use of 16 satellite venues across all nine provinces, where book clubs participated and then interacted with one another on-line. 

One requirement for book clubs to participate in the 11th FMC was to be registered with the NLSA.  The 2021 FMC saw 72 book clubs selected from the 114 registered book clubs to compete in the championship in the following categories; impromptu reading and book reviews.  The book clubs were selected from the provincial FMC preliminary stages and advanced to the last round of the competition that took place before a live audience and the adjudicators.  The Department of Correctional Services is the NLSA’s partner in this prestigious Championship.  Inmates all over the country participate annually and in 2021, 18 book clubs from Correctional Services participated virtually.

During the launch of the final competition, Executive Director:  Core Programmes of the NLSA, Ms Nokuthula Musa stated that, “The books being used in FMC are 11 titles in the official languages.  In fact, some of the titles are from our recently initiated project of cross-translating titles from our Reprint of South African Classics Project.”

Ms Musa remarked that the NLSA was proud to witness that FMC has grown in leaps and bounds.  She said that when the Championship was launched in 2010, “We only had six book clubs participating in three languages.  I am proud to boast that in 2019, we saw 122 book clubs competing in all 11 official languages.”  This is a testament of NLSA’s strategic intent to support reading initiatives. 

The Acting National Commissioner of the Department of Correctional Services, Mr Makghothi Thobakgale had this to say about the participation of inmates:

 “Correctional centres should be places not only where people are incarcerated for their crimes, but where they can improve their lives to become better members of society upon their release.  Books can play a vital role in the inmates’ rehabilitation.”

The Championship had adjudicators for each language and the book clubs were evaluated on the following criteria:

  • Cognitive capabilities; consisting of attention, memory, visualisation
  • Motivation; a purpose for reading and interest in the content
  • Knowledge; comprehension and vocabulary

The overall winners were determined by cumulative scores.  Winning book clubs received prizes sponsored by the Gauteng Department of Sport, Arts and Culture, NLSA and DCS.  The first prize winners received trophies, medals and tablets.  Second second and third place winners received trophies, medals and R1 500 and R1 000 gift vouchers respectively. 

First prize winners were from these book clubs:

Afrikaans Merino Book Club
English Hector Peterson Book Club
IsiNdebele Kwa-Mhlanga Book Club
IsiXhosa Hector Peterson Book Club
IsiZulu Gold Bar Book Club
Sepedi Rivoningo Book Club
Sesotho Gemsbok Book Club
Setswana  Gemsbok Book Club
Siswati Honey Bee Book Club
Tshivenda Rivoningo Book Club
Xitsonga Gold Bar Book Club


The National Library of South Africa and the Department of Correctional Services declared FMC a resounding success.  We look forward to strengthening and growing this flagship reading competition.

National Library of South Africa and the Department of Correctional Services’ Senior Management


Acting National Commissioner, Makgothi Thobakgale


Fundile Mqatu representing Gauteng Department of Sport, Arts and Culture (left); Nokuthula Musa,Executive Director:  Core Programmes (centre) and Andrew Malotle:  Project Director for Conditional Grants (right).