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Pretoria – Changing the stereotypical thinking of excluding children from social activities such as politics has been part of the motivation behind a debut book by young author Boitumelo Thage.
The book, My Voice Matters … When I Stand for Others, is aimed at children aged 7 to 10.
In the book, the 25-year-old author from Pretoria North retells a story of the 20 000-strong women who marched to the Union Buildings on August 9, 1956, to demand that then prime minister JG Strijdom revoke the apartheid pass laws.
Her storytelling ability makes the sequence of events easy to follow, especially for her target audience with little understanding of politics.
To capture the imagination of children, Thage uses portraits to illustrate some of the characters in her work.
“Children are easily distracted and I guess using pictures will assist with getting them to better understand the subject matter. It is not a book for Grade 7s, for example, who can read a book without pictures.”
She said the heart of her narration was to galvanise the little ones into activism so that they expressed their voices about social issues and be heard.
“I wrote this book with the very specific intent of teaching children the importance of using their voices and ensuring that they know that when they stand up for something, their voices are valid and that they matter,” she said.
A student of health psychology at Unisa, Thage said this was important for her young audience who are still at the foundation phase, to learn about themselves and also significant historical political events.
“I am of the view that children are often looked upon as though they don’t know issues such as these. And for them not knowing is a problem because they also need to fight gender-based violence in particular. They could speak up and be heard,” she said.
Besides writing, Thage is preoccupied with charity work as the founder of the non-profit organisation, A Second Chance.
The organisation rehabilitates and helps homeless young people and families in disadvantaged communities.
Thage is also a co-founder of an anti-gender-based violence movement aimed at creating a safe space for women and victims of rape.
“I strongly believe in ensuring that victims are at all times protected.
“Moreover, I believe that to end gender-based violence we need to educate society on consent, and educate men about respecting women and not feeling entitled.
“I also believe it is important that we normalise believing victims of gender-based violence and provide support for them and their families,” she said.