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Kholeka Sigenu - Xhosa author, poet PDF Print E-mail
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Authors / Scriptwriters / Poets - Poets
Kholeka 'Sing-Sing' Sigenu

Kholeka “Sing-Sing” Sigenu is a highly talented author and storyteller who made it one of her life goals to help preserve the traditional African tales that her grandmother used to tell her.

As a young girl, Sigenu was inspired by the Xhosa folk tales that she heard at her grandmother’s home in the Eastern Cape. “I learned so much about my heritage through the oral tradition of storytelling,” she says. “But I knew that in this modern age, these stories might get lost unless they were written down for future generations.”

In 2000, Kholeka Sigenu won an award from the Women In Writing Association. Through the award, and a donation by the Centre For the Book, she was able to fund the isiXhosa (Ezakowethu) and English (Ezakowethu Folk Tales From Home) versions of her first book.

The initial Xhosa run of 500 copies sold out within a month. The book was then translated into English and distributed to non-Xhosa speaking pupils in a number of Queenstown schools. “The book is used as a teaching aid to showcase traditional Xhosa stories and lifestyle,” says Sigenu. It is also used in some tertiary institutions as a showcase of excellent Xhosa writing as well as a resource for traditional tales.

Her writing is described as “beautifully composed,” using the traditional Xhosa language, idioms and onomatopoeia to preserve traditional tales. “Ezakowethu,” includes cultural poems and songs which add depth and richness to the stories.

“The stories all reflect the way we used to live, traditional values and life lessons,” says Sigenu. “There are even stories about how parents used to discipline their children, and how they used this discipline to prepare the children for the future.”

During her years as a languages teacher (English, Xhosa and Afrikaans) in a number of schools, Sigenu realized that there was a need for the children of today to hear the traditional stories and learn from the morals and values that they taught. As a lecturer at Mount Arthur College she noted that the written Xhosa language was being diluted with modern slang.

After retiring from her final job as a subject adviser in Queenstown, Sigenu finally had time to put pen to paper to help keep both the pure Xhosa language and the traditional tales alive.

Sigenu has also contributed towards a number of other publications including “Keep Breathing,” and “Nawe Unako”. She has translated the four Gospels of the bible (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) into Xhosa.

Sigenu’s passion for writing and the preservation of tradition led her into the world of publishing and she has started her own venture, Khol Publishers. The company’s first project is a biography of Canon James Arthur Calata which is being penned by Dr Menzi Duka.

One of Kholeka Sigenu’s greatest achievements so far is winning the “Woman Writer of the Year” award in the Women in Writing competition.

She also won a Fulbright Scholarship in 2006 which led to her travelling to Pennsylvania for a course on teaching English to foreign students. 

Contact Details:

Province: Eastern Cape

City: Queenstown

Category: Author/Storyteller

082 442 3234

Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Kholeka Sigenu
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