First ever children’s book published in endangered N|uu language
The first ever children’s book in the near-extinct San language of N|uu has been published.
The book is titled !Qhoi n|a Tjhoi, or Tortoise and Ostrich in English, and was authored by Katrina Esau, one of only a handful of people who speak N|uu.
The 88-year-old Esau worked on the book with her granddaughter Claudia Snyman, who translated the book into Afrikaans.
The story is inspired by the San folk tales that Esau was told by her family as a child.
Esau has received many accolades for her efforts to preserve and promote her language. In 2014 she was honoured in the Presidential National Orders with the Order of the Baobab in Silver, and in 2020, she was named a South African Living Human Legend, an accolade bestowed upon individuals who have a high degree of knowledge and skills to perform or recreate specific elements of the intangible cultural heritage.
Tortoise and Ostrich, published by New Africa Books in an initiative driven by the Puku Foundation, is published trilingually in N|uu, English and Afrikaans (Skilpad en Volstruis). There are plans to translate the book into Setswana, isiZulu, isiXhosa and the Nama language spoken mostly in Namibia.
The book was illustrated by acclaimed artist Stanley Grootboom, and the Afrikaans editing and English translation were done by internationally celebrated writer and poet Diana Ferrus.
- Proceeds from the book’s sales will go towards Esau’s ongoing efforts to preserve N|uu. The book can be purchased online or at the Melville-based bookstore Book Circle Capital.