‘I wanted to show what you can do with our languages’ – Melusi Tshabalala chats about the inspiration behind Melusi’s Everyday Zulu
More about the book!
Melusi Tshabalala was a guest on the Exclusive Books video series Africa’s Lit recently, to chat about his new book Melusi’s Everyday Zulu.
The book is based on Tshabalala’s popular Facebook page, where he regularly shares an isiZulu word or phrase, accompanied by a fun, tongue-in-cheek explanation.
The author describes the book as ‘a collection of jokes, stories and anecdotes built around isiZulu words and expressions, to help people get a grasp of how to use those words in everyday life’.
Tshabalala works in marketing, and says the book was inspired by his day job.
‘Advertising doesn’t respect and appreciate our languages,’ he says. ‘For me, in the beginning, it was to showcase my language, isiZulu. I wanted to show what you can actually do with our languages. And from there it took a life of its own.’
Tshabalala says writing the book was a challenge, but adds that one of the positives to come out of the project is that he has learnt that South Africa is changing.
‘I think the beauty of what social media has brought us is that we no longer need permission,’ he says, ‘we can just be ourselves. And what this project has shown me is that people are ready to hear you as you are.
‘I write for me. If somebody else likes it, great. I think that’s where we need to start. We need to appreciate our languages, our cultures and ourselves before we can worry about somebody else.’
Watch the video, which includes Tshabalala reading an excerpt from the book focused on the word ‘woza’.
What is the power of a single word? Six days a week, advertising creative Melusi Tshabalala posts a Zulu word on his Everyday Zulu Facebook page and tells a story about it. We chat to him in this light interview, but still touches on notes of heritage and the importance of language in the 21st century.