29 Jan Losika Writes set to bring Southern African languages to Australian shelves
By day, Tshegofatso (Teah) Mogae is busy working hard as a mother and General Practitioner.
By night (and in whatever spare time she can find), Teah’s attention turns to her passion project Losika Writes, a company working hard to maintain Southern African language skills in Australian preschool-aged children.
Inspired by Teah’s son Losika, the organisation was born out of a lack of Setswana literature and learning resources for young children, a language spoken in Botswana, South Africa and Namibia.
“It was born out of a need of wanting to ensure that my son could still learn the language, despite living in the diaspora with us in Australia,” Teah explained.
He will probably speak Setswana with an Australian accent, and that’s ok, as long as he still has some cultural background because … it’s all about identifying with your clan or your people.
“Your culture determines a lot of who you are and who you become, so you cannot erase the fact that you are of a different race or that you are multilingual, and it’s important to acknowledge and to celebrate it, because otherwise you’ll just blend in.”
With five picture books written in either English, Setswana and Ndebele, Losika Writes has garnered a lot of support among those in African-Australian communities, with many parents approaching Teah to write a book in other languages.
Their most recent launch included bilingual posters teaching children various body parts, featuring images of children of African appearance, notably with afros or cornrows.
“It would be nice to walk into a childcare centre and see a ‘chocolate’ kid on a poster on the wall, and a book that is not just in English, just so kids learn to understand differences and appreciate and celebrate those differences too,” Teah said.
“A lot of those things will obviously take a lot of time to come up… but that’s the big dream, just to see books and stationary where my son feel like he belongs.
I know the people who speak Setswana in Australia are minimal, but it would be nice to one day just walk into a shop or a bookstore and have a bilingual or multilingual books section, and to have Southern African languages represented there.
In their second year of operation, Losika Writes will be releasing their current board books in more languages, including Xhosa, Zulu and Shona, and Teah hopes to have also launched a few more books in story- and nursery-rhyme format.
For now, Teah is slowly uploading videos with pronunciations of the books to social media to assist parents who may not be native Setswana or Ndebele speakers.
Check out the full Losika Writes range by visiting their website HERE.