2018 Mother Language Day Celebration

Language is a road map of culture. It tells you where its people come from and where they are going – Rita Mae Brown

In celebration of UNESCO‘s International Mother Language Day, we have donated a total of 12 584 storybooks in isiXhosa, isiNdebele, and Sesotho to 70 schools throughout South Africa!

About International Mother Language Day 

In 1952, students from different educational institutions were shot and killed by police in Dhaka, Bangladesh while demonstrating in defence of their language, Bangla. The students wanted their language to be formally recognized as one of the 2 national languages in Bangladesh. To commemorate this day, UNESCO declared February 21st International Mother Language Day. This day has the distinct purpose of conserving, protecting and encouraging the incredible linguistic diversity that we humans have.


We were thrilled to provide 70 schools with much-needed home language storybooks. Our staff spent weeks preparing for this very special day and we couldn’t be happier with the result!

We donated a total of 4 989 books to 19 schools in the Nkangala District of Mpumalanga! This included books in the children’s mother tongue of isiNdebele and Sepedi and a small component of English books. Biblionef’s Executive Director, Jean Williams, and the Chairperson of Biblionef’s Board Ms Joan de Beer personally handed over the donation of books to the schools on International Mother Language Day, Wednesday 21 February 2018.

At the same time, Biblionef’s Project Manager visited 12 schools in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, to hand deliver their donation of isiXhosa storybooks. We donated a total of 1 316 books to these 12 schools!

The third donation we made was to 39 schools in the Free State. A total of 6 279 books in Sesotho were donated to these schools! The books will be used to stock 15 mobile libraries at 15 of the schools and fill the shelves of the remaining schools.

If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart. – Nelson Mandela 

It is Biblionef’s hope that this injection of mother tongue books will assist in building children’s pride in their mother tongue! Biblionef’s Executive Director, Jean Williams, expressed her thoughts about this important day and said that; “We at Biblionef pride ourselves on being able to give each child a book in his/her local language, as we know the important role it plays in their culture and education. This Mother Language Day celebration is an ideal opportunity to showcase Biblionef’s efforts in ensuring more children’s books are produced in our African Languages and we will emphasize the crucial role mother language plays in children’s lives.”

Jean Williams and Joan de Beer handing over the resources to the beneficiaries

Jean Williams reading aloud to the group of teachers present at the handover

The Teacher was so excited to see storybooks in isiNdebele that picked up Linda Rode’s “Madiba’s Magic” and read it aloud to his peers!


The packs that were donated to the 12 schools in Khayelitsha




















An example of the selection of isiXhosa storybooks that were donated to the schools in Khayelitsha




Our Project Manager handing over the resources to the beneficiaries in Khayelitsha