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Tuesday, May 6, 2014


Story of Refilwe follows Jacana’s aim to provide stories which are more accessible and understandable to the children of Africa. (Review by Keith Millar)

Jacana Media’s Best Loved Stories For Africa is a series of books where favourite children’s tales from around the world are re-written in the local idiom. The result is stories which are more accessible and understandable to the children of Africa.

Receiving the treatment on this occasion is the classic Brothers Grimm fairy Tale, Rapunzel.

Author Zukiswa Wanner has set the story in the mountain kingdom of Lesotho and has renamed the heroine Refilwe. Refilwe is a dreadlocked book-reading and singing beauty. However, rather than being locked away in a tower in the forest by the wicked witch as was the case with Rapunzel, she is imprisoned in a cave high up on a craggy cliff. The handsome prince who hears her plaintive signing is Prince Thumi - and rather than chanting "Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair, so that I may climb the golden stair" he calls “Refilwe, Refilwe let down your locks, so I can climb the scraggy rocks!”.

When they are caught by the witch, Refilwe is sent away to the Northern Cape and Prince Thumi is blinded. He wanders the country alone and lost until one day he again hears that beautiful voice signing and Refilwe and the Prince are reunited 

What does remain from the original is the lessons taught by the story. Such as good triumphs over evil, and that love conquers all – and it goes without saying that in the end they all live happily ever after.

This charming adaptation of Rapunzel was written by Zukiswa Wanner author of several books including Maid In Africa. The magical and colourful illustrations which really enrich the book are by Cape Town illustrator Tamsin Hinrichsen.

The aim of the Best Loved Stories For Africa series is to encourage reading, and the love of books amongst our children. The story of Refilwe will enchant children and will go a long way in promoting these aims.

Refilwe is published by Jacana Media, and is available in English, Afrikaans, isiXhosa and isiZulu. The ISBN number is 978-1-4314-0927-3. Price R79. – Keith Millar