In Conversation with: Karabo Kekana

Karabo Kekana

Karabo Kekana is a girl from Hammanskraal who loves making people laugh. Professional at work, loving at home and entertainer at heart. I recently published a Sestwana children’s book, Ntumba Le Dinawa Tsa Gage.

How did you get into writing and storytelling?

I have been telling jokes and stories from an early age and I feed off people’s energy and love being surrounded by people and sharing funny stories. Since I could not physically be with friends and family during lockdown, so I decided to record myself telling jokes and stories and created a YouTube channel. My loved ones encouraged me to write down some of the stories and I took it seriously.

What inspired you to start African stories on your YouTube channel? 

African stories are what I know. I draw from what is rooted inside of me. My parents entertained us by telling us stories and jokes.

Who are your favourite storytellers/writers? 

I love mam Gcina Mhlophe. I also grew up during the Sarafina Era so Mbongeni Ngema is also one of the creatives I have always admired. 

What inspired you to write, Ntumba Le Dinawa Tsa Gage?

Ntumba Le Dinawa Tsa Gage is a story that my mom always shared with me and my sisters. We all just love this story so much and when seeing how my own kids also enjoyed the story, I decided I would share it with the world. It takes you on a magical journey so simple but also very funny.

Why did you choose to write it in Setswana?

I want my children and those of this continent to embrace and be proud of their native languages. I chose Setswana as this is a language I speak although not pure Setswana, but I just want my kids to know that their language can also be written and celebrated like any other language of the first world.

How was the process of writing the book and what were the highlights of writing the book?

I kept thinking to myself, wow girl you are good:-). Take an idea and turn it into reality. I enjoyed each and every step although it took long as I was using an illustrator that does not speak nor understand Setswana, but I loved every day of shaping the story. The highlight for me was seeing the characters coming alive.

What impact do you want the book to have on the children that read it?

I want them to understand how simple life was before their times and to know that it took just imaginary stories to entertain and bond families. Most importantly, I want them to know that their stories matter, and that the history of our people matter. They may not understand yet, but it is a seed that will culminate in pride of being and respect for self in years to come.

How has the book been received so far?

The reception has been amazing. It is beyond my expectations. Even our CEO at work is excited for me.

Where can people buy a copy of the book?

They can get a copy from www.ethnikids.co.za

Are you working on more books and will they also be children’s books?

Yes, I am working on two Setswana stories and they are just amazing. Children and their parents will really love the books. The target market is children.  

How did Dokgoshi wax shoe polish come to be and what is your future vision for the brand? 

I realised during lockdown that the only shoe polish I had in the house was the same old brand my dad had when I was in primary. This did not make sense to me. I wanted to use something I can identify with and would be proud to use. One that is made by an African for Africans. One that looks current, but most importantly made from natural products. I want it to be in every household and to be a real “Dikgoshi” (Kings/Queens) brand. 

Who are your role models in life and why them? 

My mom: Patient, beautiful and ever loving.

My uncle Shikwane: For showing me what a real man looks like. 

What is your advice for people looking to write their own children’s books?

Do your research, put pen to paper and remember children love happy endings.

What are the top 5 songs in your playlist right now?

Beyonce and Jay Z: Forever Young

Justin Beiber: Intentions

Justin Beiber: Holy

Elevation Worship: The Blessing

Tone and I: Dance Monkey

How do you want to be remembered? 

As a funny person, a go getter and lover of people.

Social media

IG: Karabo Kekana @Monate_wa_Setori

IG: @Dikgoshi_waxshoepolish 

YouTube: Karabo Kekana

Get a copy of the book from www.ethnikids.co.za

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