We like to keep an eye on the most popular reads on FunDza so we can try to understand what our readers love/want/need to read. So, here’s our analysis of FunDza’s greatest hits of 2016! Drum roll, if you please…

Top 5 Books: Sugar Daddy, Love Interrupted, Dark Cloud, After the Tears, That kiss in Egypt.

Ros Haden says: “FunDza readers really love a bit of drama – especially romantic drama – as reflected in the top five books for 2016! From ‘blessers’ in Sugar Daddy and After the Tears to ‘toy boys’ in Love Interrupted. From dreamy lovers in That kiss in Egypt to hardened criminals in Dark Cloud, the characters in these stories drew readers in and kept them reading! We are delighted that Londeka Luthuli who is part of FunDza’s Mentoring Young Writers programme, is in the top 5 with her story Ithunzi Elimnyama (Dark Cloud) that was written in isiZulu and translated into English by her mentor, Sifiso Mzobe.”

Top 5 Short Stories: Matters of the Heart, Love never Dies, All about the Guys, If love was Easy, Miss Perfect

Ros Haden comments: “Relationships, between lovers and friends, between the elderly and the young, between murdered and their victims held readers captive in these short stories. Set in rural Limpopo to Chicago in the USA, these stories reflected universal themes of peer pressure, isolation, the search for love and happiness and the meaning of true friendship. Njabulo Shongwe was also part of FunDza’s Mentoring Young Writers programme in 2016. As a mentee writer, he made it into the top 5 with his story Love Never Dies!”

Top 5 Children’s Stories: Tselane le dimo, A king finds a husband for his princess, A naughty girl, The Two Princesses, Tselane and the Giant

Phoebe Sibomana reflects: “We know how important it is for children to start reading at a young age because we know the benefits that come from that learning experience. Our Fanz range from young to old and from singles to parents and with this view in mind, we have a children’s stories section on our mobile site which has different children stories from various Creative Commons sites and even from our readers themselves. An example is one of our top 5 story The Two Princesses was written and illustrated by an eight-year-old FunDza fan. We love that our readers take the time to read and share the children stories with the young ones, and for me to read the comments just makes my day extra special.”

Top 5 Feature Articles / Profiles: Swanepoel Yindoda, John Fredericks, Muimeleli Mutangwa, Strong lady survives, The importance of reading for pleasure

Ndibulele Sotondoshe says: “The top five didn’t come as a surprise at all, because all the articles have what we call ‘human interest’ – real life stories that appeal to the readers’ emotions and consciences.  People love reading about other people’s lives as they see their own reflections through those stories.”

Top 5 Resources / Advice: Tips for writers, Social assistance for refugees and asylum seekers, A guide to Pregnancy, Money-wise: Essential money skills for young minds, The right to Human Dignity

Ros Haden remarks: “FunDza is about stories but it’s also about providing advice and support for readers in many different areas of their lives. The most sought after advice for 2016 was wide ranging: From Tips for Writers (which will help all FunDza’s Fanz who send in their writing!) to social assistance for refugees, information about our right to human dignity and a guide to pregnancy (with lots of useful links to organisations working in these fields and contact numbers). Money and saving is also uppermost in all of our minds and the practical tips in Money-wise are accessible and provided practical help to many readers who sought advice from this book.”

Onto our FANZ section, the content of which is written by avid FunDza readers who have become FunDza WRITERS! They send in their work and with some FunDza tweaks here and there, the stories and essays are published on the mobi site for others to read!

Top 5 Fanz Essays: Ithemba Lami Lafiphala, Damn I slept with my cousin, Life’s a journey and mine went this way, Isono Somuntu Okholwayo, A day I’ll never forget

Zimkhitha Mlanzeli says: “Our Fanz section is for ordinary people sharing their stories and readers know this. It’s evident that our readers love drama and stories that speak to them. They want stories that they have also experienced, stories like Ithemba lami lafiphala or Life’s a journey and mine went this way. They love stories they can relate to, like Damn I slept with my cousin, Isono Somntu Okholwayo and A day I’ll never forget. This is why our content always has to be relevant.”

Top 5 Fanz Stories: The ladies man, Uthando Kalunamkhawulo, The rape, The love of my life, Being the preachers daughter

Zimkhitha remarks: “Our Fanz stories were spices with romance and more drama. Readers loved to know how others handle situations. They share their experiences in the comments section and connect with the writer. Stories like Uthando kalunamkhawulo, the most read story on our mobi site, about a girl getting a hiding from her dad because of rumours that she was sleeping with the teacher, to The Ladies man, where readers hated the lead character, but understood and took tips for next time as they have also been cheated on. Stories like The Rape sadly reflect what our youth experience on a daily basis and reading these stories help to know that one isn’t alone in their ordeal.”

Top 5 Fanz Plays: Revenge on my stepfather, It happened, Set apart, Our matric year, Ubomi ngamahlandenyuka

Zimkhitha reflects: “Fanz writers are very creative in their creation process. Revenge on my stepfather, an elaborately complicated story with a murderous plot is still loved by readers. While plays like Set Apart, reflect the struggles of knowing oneself and coming out. Our readers relate to stories such as these as this is part of their daily lives and what to see how others dealt with the challenges. Our Matric Year and Ubomi ngamahla-ndenyuka keep readers coming back for these golden oldies, proving it true that you can never get enough of a good thing.”

Top 5 Fanz Poems: 16 June, Uthando Luyawavala Amehlo Omntu, Thank you Tata Madiba, Ubomi Sisqualo Ukufa sisiqalekiso, First Love

Ndibulele comments: “Poems that are based on events become popular because readers want to know what the writer’s thoughts are about a particular event. Vernacular poems also take lead as many of our readers are bilingual – so their content is not limited to English only. They re-read until there’s new content in that language.”