The Book Club Society is doing serious literary activism and groundwork to develop a reading culture around the country. BCS runs numerous literacy based projects for children , prisoners and schools , using books as a point of departure and a conversation starter. This group of individuals decided to roll up their sleeves and put action to words; To create the change the world so desperately needs. BCS is gearing up to host its ”Boys Talk” session, a conversation that interrogates the behaviour and socializing of boys and their roles in society .Poetry Potion caught up with BCS founder and Chairman Tshepo Masuku to hear about the work they are engaged in.
PP: What exactly is Book club Society?
TM: BCS (Book Club Society) is an organisation that is driven by the conditions of the black man; caused by lack of the right information and exposure to literacy in all respective fields. Books do not only help the mind to travel to new worlds , they also have the magic to demystify matters and help to grow the reader both mentally and boost confidence.
PP: How was it founded and why?
TM: It started with a dream to open up a book shop in Soweto. After much research we were echoed “blacks don’t read” and we found that reading is not part of our culture as blacks. There are a few reasons why black people did not previously grow up with a reading lifestyle. Books are ,firstly, expensive and mostly inaccessible , sometimes we don’t relate
to what we read, because some work is written from a foreign perspective. Our libraries are not updated, making them a dead space. We believe books should be fun. As an avid reader I felt the need to share my book experiences. I imagined if a lot of people were reading the right books we could come together in improving our surroundings and mostly ourselves. I told a few people about my vision , the response was positive even though a few committed.
We had our first meeting in April 2016 at a coffee shop in town(JHB) and we
have been growing in numbers each month.
PP: BCS has been doing some really great literacy based work. What are some of the programs that you are currently running?
T.M: We have (BCS) our umbrella book review meetings were we share books
and exchange ideas.
M.E.D.S is a motivational and leadership program aimed at grooming young men and women to realise the best in themselves. Through talks and book discussions we try and solve social problems in our society and define our roles in improving the conditions we find ourselves in i.e. “Youth Reading Revolution”…”Boys Talk”
Children’s Theatre is a space for children to learn reading and writing skills and storytelling. Grooming them from a young age to write their own stories , plays and eventually books.
We offer a platform for kids to perform on stage using their indigenous languages and learning to play indigenous instruments.
A.R.K stands for Act of Random Kindness and it is our social responsibility project where
we donate books , food and clothes to the homeless and needy. As part of A.R.K we aim to visit prisons nationally to open up libraries and help in the rehabilitation process merging it with literacy programs. We were invited to Losperdfontein Correctional in Brits to facilitate a debate and spelling bee and are planning to do more of this kind of work.We have donated books to a school in KZN in the rural areas and we plan to
do similar outreach projects.
PP:Your “Boys talk” initiative engages young men and boys on their role in society. What do these sessions entail?
TM: Boys Talk is about opening the pandoras box; a lot of males are raised different from their female counterparts . Emotionally closed off, because we are raised to believe boys don’t cry . Seemingly given a lot to carry, thus in turn harbouring anger and depression. In this age where we have women empowerment and projects such as “Take a girl child to work” ,all justifiable, it has left the male child out and almost silenced him and his role in society. Our sessions aim to speak on violence caused by men on women and children and to try and find healing for the boy child. Our “Boys Talk” focusses on empowering the male child to be the best he can be, thus compatible with their female counterparts. Solutions such as entrepreneurship are offered ,using their skills to survive.
PP:How many books have you collected and distributed to date? What is the procedure for donating and requesting books from BCS?
TM: We have been receiving books from various volunteers over the past months . Volunteers who want to see us prosper and further our goals. Most of our members also come with books to our meetings. We have a culture; to give books to every person attending our shows. With the help of an author , Letepe Maisela,we have donated two of the books he has written to about 100 people. On Average we have to date collected and distributed 1500 books.(Harambe)
PP: How effective is the type of work you are doing in the different communities? Are you seeing the results that you hoped for?
TM: There is a hunger for knowledge and new information. We have seen people especially children finding their favourite book,and their faces instantly brighten up. People are starting to gain interest and we have seen in it with the growth in numbers and increased attendance at our sessions. We also come across organizations and people who do the same line of work and often encourage and commend us to keep pushing.
The more people read the more their minds expand.
PP: What challenges does an organization like BCS face?
TM: The biggest challenge we are faced with is funding. As a non-profit organization we rely on donations and sponsorships.
PP: How can folks get involved?
TM: It is our goal as BCS to reach out to more communities, to build a reading society. To start libraries and similar projects around the country . This would take passionate and like minded people. Volunteering or help in any way will be appreciated.
PP: How can interested people reach you?
Contact us on 0738947483 Tshepo Masuku (Founder and Chairman)
Facebook : Book Club Society
e-mail : [email protected]