Ros Haden

It was a joyful occasion when we came together to celebrate FunDza’s 10 year journey in the beautiful gardens of The Homestead in Plumstead. We bid a fond farewell to Mignon Hardie, who has headed up FunDza since its inception, and a warm welcome to new head, Lea-Anne Moses and reflected on what the 10 years has meant to us all. 

Last year, due to covid restrictions, we weren’t able to hold the event in person, and via zoom is just not the same! so it was wonderful to see some of our most stalwart supporters again, many of whom we haven’t seen for too long: partners and funders, beneficiaries and storytellers who have shared FunDza’s vision and believed in and championed the innovative and impactful work the organization is doing with teens and young people in the literacy arena in South Africa. And to share in the excitement of what the future holds as we grow.  There was lots of catching up, sharing stories, and meeting the new people who have joined the FunDza Team too. 

Zimkhitha Mlanzeli made a lively MC bringing her pizzazz to the occasion as she introduced the panel discussion that was chaired by Cathy Kell,  Associate Professor in the Education Department at UCT, and long-time friend of FunDza. Mignon recounted a brief history of the organization, and recognized the many individuals, organisations, foundations and companies that had helped shape FunDza and its work. She also spoke about how much shehad loved the experience and how growing FunDza had given her immense joy and helped to grow her as a person and a leader.

Sicelo Kula was up next and spoke next about what FunDza has meant in his life. Sicelo became part of the FunDza family through one of FunDza’s many writing workshops and hasn’t stopped writing for FunDza since! He spoke about how FunDza had shaped him as a writer and how it has been a lifeline for him and so many FunDza Fanz through times of hardship and struggle as well as times of celebration and success. 

Zimkhitha spoke of her journey from working in a call centre, where she submitted her writing to FunDza in her spare time, to joining FunDza to run the editing team for our FunDza Fanz, helping them grow a writers – early on in the journey we had realized that FunDza would not just be a reading platform but also a writing platform for young voices.  She also spoke of how stories, which are core to everything FunDza does, have the power to open new worlds, shift attitudes and change lives. 

The panel discussion was rounded off by FunDza’s longest and most beloved board member, Xolisa Guzula – lecturer and colleague of Cathy Kell in the Education Department at UCT. She spoke with passion about the importance of mother-tongue and growing our platform to incorporate different kinds of literacies to celebrate diverse voices. 

The question and answer session after the panel discussion revealed just how invested everyone there was in FunDza’s past and continuing journey and how the excitement and passion for what we are doing is still burning strong. 

Here’s to the next 10 years and a new chapter on that journey!