I lived in London in the UK for many years. I was in my mid twenties, often broke and regularly depressed. I was hustling in the big grey city. I was trying my little heart out to make some money to survive, make good friends, scrape together money to travel, find myself and my passion. I had a degree from the University of Cape Town in Theatre, an enormous student loan in South Africa that was accumulating interests fast and a job in a call centre, paying minimum wage. These were the early days. It got better. It got a lot better in the end.
I think about those days in the call centre and the endless hours of doodling. We were not allowed to read or write when on the phones as we had to be fully focused on delivering a specific script and trying to secure people’s banking details as you would expect in a call centre. Scribbling little pictures and doodles on our call sheet was the only form of freedom and rebellion we were allowed. There was a lot of time to think and to dream. Although the job felt like a punishment at the time, it was here that I dreamed and decided to tell stories. I drew pictures all the time. Pictures which belonged in children’s books. I learned a lot about myself and what I needed to do and wanted to do with my life. What I needed to do to be happy was create stories for children.
Although I have yet to publish a children’s book, I tell stories to children every day. And I am happy! The organization I would eventually found and manage brings stories alive through interactive play and theatrical principals.
We quickly acknowledged that we needed something that makes us stand out, something that children can hook on to and a Unique Selling Point (USP.) So I created stories. Each story starts with an imaginary world; the theme. From here; the characters and plot. I make sure these are incorporated into bite sized segments into every week’s activities and objectives of our interactive curriculum.
So far, we were on to gold, but it wasn’t enough. We needed content. Unique content. Unique content especially for children. We quickly learned that creative material for children: songs, television, films and games are always in high demand. Parents always want to stimulate and occupy their children’s attention with quality content. The children’s market is huge but mostly being satisfied from international sources. So my creative partner Hlubi Kwebulana and I stepped in and threw ourselves at the project of creating proudly South African homegrown original music for the kidz attending our workshops and beyond. For the South African and the International market. This is how we go about doing it….
The next step was marrying the stories, the plot and the characters with the original music. What followed was a podcast, especially for children. We are telling stories to children in a modern way and have managed to create unique content along the way. It’s been a long, hard journey so far but so worth while.