22. A Look at the Books on Cyril Ramaphosa’s Bedside Table

Author: Prega Govender
Date: 3 January 2021
 Sunday Times
Image courtesy of: Chris Lawton via Unsplash

President Cyril Ramaphosa has his hands full dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic, but he has also set time aside in the holidays to catch up on some reading.

Known for his love of books, Ramaphosa shared his 2020 Christmas reading list with the National Reading Coalition (NRC), which launched the South African Virtual Reading Club on December 14.

The top five books on the list are The Lie of 1652 — A Decolonised History of Land by Patric Tariq Mellet, The Longest March by Fred Khumalo, Time is Not the Measure: A Memoir by Vusi Mavimbela, Pan African Pantheon edited by Adekeye Adebajo and Blue Ocean Shift by W Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne.

The NRC was established by the National Education Collaboration Trust (NECT) and the department of basic education as a response to the reading challenges facing the country.

Godwin Khosa, CEO of the NECT, said: “Those who know President Ramaphosa personally swear by his love for books.”

Khosa said that from the reading list “one discerns a mix of history, pan-Africanism, culture, a global perspective, politics and leisure threads”.

During his state of the nation address in 2019, Ramaphosa emphasised the importance of cultivating a reading nation “to unlock opportunities that flow from a broadened understanding of the country and the world”, said Khosa.

Since its launch in 2019, the NRC has supported Ramaphosa’s call to improve reading nationally, “from the classroom to the living room”, said Khosa.

SA’s grade 4s were placed last in a 2016 international assessment that tests children’s reading ability.

The NRC has chosen The Longest March for a discussion at its virtual reading club scheduled to take place this month.

“Time allowing, the president will join one of the virtual reading sessions,” said Khosa. He said that when the NECT was battling with the issue of promoting reading in the classroom, Ramaphosa “weighed in and said he truly believed in this thing and that we must take it forward”.

At the launch of the South African Virtual Reading Club, basic education minister Angie Motshekga said research indicates that South African children have to improve in reading, “which means even ourselves as adults have to start creating a reading nation. We’d like South Africans in their numbers to join and participate in the reading club.”

Prega Govender is a Journalist with the Sunday Times.