Throwback 2002

NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site

FIONA KHAN担 NEW BOOKS (article first published : 2002-04-20)

To celebrate World Book Day Washesha Publications in association with Adams Campus Bookshop and the School of Nursing , University of Natal, Durban, will launch three new books by Durban author Fiona Khan this week.

Described as an author, poet, scriptwriter, community worker, Aids-activist-educator-facilitator and a motivational speaker, Fiona Khan published her first book I Am What I Am in 1994. This won the SA Writers’ Circle Quill award in 1995 and was translated into five languages.

Fiona Khan has received several nominations and awards for international poetry and prose writing. Two of her books, I am what I am and The Magic Calabash have been used for production as an animation for TV. Her poetry has been published in anthologies in Britain, America, South Africa and Australia and she’s contributed to a children’s short story collection Beneath the Baobab Tree published in Kenya.

The three new titles are Hi! I am HIV Positive, The Grasshopper who Couldn’t Jump and The Magic Calabash. Each one is illustrated by a student from the Nanda Sooben College for Art, Animation and Design.

Illustrated by Vidya Amin, Hi! I am HIV Positive, tells the story of Thandeka. She is a young girl from Umzinto who learns to understand what it means to be HIV positive and how to cope with people’s attitudes. This 20 page A4 book will be enjoyed by four to 12 year-olds , as well as their parents and educators. Teaching aids, in the form of charts and task cards, are also available.

The Grasshopper who Couldn’t Jump, illustrated by Tyron Love, is a whimsical early reader describing the adventures of Hoppo the grasshopper who has to learn how to jump to keep himself alive .

The Magic Calabash contains illustrations by Carey Lee Farbach. It is a delightful story set in the bustling city life of Durban. Langa is a street orphan whose life is brightened by his friendship with a street peddler named Mkulu. Little does he realise that a magical trip inside a calabash is not only a gift but a lesson in life.

The advantages of Reading and Storytelling from an early age.

Image result for pics of reading books

The earlier children are introduced to books, especially picture books the quicker they develop affectively and cognitively. The mind is pliant and stretched into building an imagination that transforms into excellent communication skills, expansive language and creativity, and the world becomes boundless and profound.

The child goes on an intellectual and emotional ride. Children are born learning and developing the art of language and communication. The sensory perception of all faculties are enhanced and most importantly the child becomes a lifelong reader.

Children who go to libraries imbibe the atmosphere of books and its insurmountable influence on their lives. They socially engage with other children who are also surrounded by literature and the aura of books stimulating the emotional bonding of social cohesion.


Visually, the child becomes spatially and environmentally aware and alert. Looking at picture books creates the freedom of thought processes, interpretation and adding meaning with sequencing to pictures. It is an informative pleasure ride of learning and development. The idea of eventuality though choices and decisions renders the possibilities limitless and solutions priceless.

Reading aloud and storytelling enriches the vocabulary, builds language and constructs of fluency, comprehension and communication. Literacy skills are pleasurable and valuable and adds value and meaning to a constructive and elevated life.

The five senses are engaged from touch and smell by stretching the imagination to hearing, visualizing and tasting  by cognitive gymnastics. The flexibility of the imagination allows the child to create images that are beyond the daily peripheral visualization of life and transforms the world into imagery that is universal.

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Code switching and code mixing is easier at the earliest age. If a child speaks any language other than English, learning a new language is much easier at an earlier age. Bilingualism and multilingualism can co-exist in communities with more than one language. The social dynamics of a child is elevated as the child can adapt and communicate on a multi-level platform. Many new languages have evolved through code switching and mixing. The morphology and formal aspects of language is easier to comprehend and communicate.

Reading and Storytelling brings alive dialogue and characters that are preserved in a book and captured in an unknown and different time capsule. copyright: FionamKhan


Reading Aloud as Storytelling

Image result for pics of reading aloud

Reading aloud is as evocative and enriching as the age old art of storytelling. Storytelling is an ancient art of Oral history. Books are a revolutionized platform  of preserving  and recording this rich history as much as technology has advance storytelling and reading  from Amazon into Kindle, iPad and Kobo. Characters come alive, dialogue dances out of storybooks, emotions ride on a roller coaster and settings sail around the world. Storytelling and reading aloud are words that transform emotion into motion. The child and even adult is taken on an emotional and intellectual ride that facilitates both affective and cognitive development.

Children are elevated into a world of fantasy and illusion, but also a world built on fact and nature. They start differentiating between fact and fiction, develop their intellectual. emotional, spiritual, and environmental intelligence. Therefore the earlier a child is introduced to literature and literacy, the earlier the child develops empathy and compassion and understands the effects of choices and decision making. It allows for bonding between parents or care givers and children and creates an aura of mutual trust. The child believes then, that the parent can effectively and affectively have a direct influence on his or her life.

The channels for questions, deeper thinking and intellectual advancement becomes expansive. Communication, language development , visualizing and effective listening skills are developed and expanded. The child is transformed  intrinsically and extrinsically from ordinary to extraordinary. There are positive changes in self image and confidence, especially when the mind is transported to a world of infinite possibilities.

Storytelling encouraged posterity of culture and history whereas reading aloud inspired holistic development from fantasy, fairy tales and dreams to tales and fables with a moral twist. Therefore the mind is actively engaged as the child learns sequencing and consequences.

Storytelling and Reading Aloud is on the brink of death unless we revive this vital art form.




WRAD World Read Aloud Day

Press release

For immediate release

16 February, 2017


Read aloud for literacy development this World Read Aloud Day
The national Nalíbali reading-for-enjoyment campaign is preparing to shatter its 2016 record and read aloud to at least half a million children across South Africa this World Read Aloud Day (WRAD), Thursday 16 February.


The campaign, along with pledging partners including the Department of Basic Education (DBE); the Department of Social Development; LIMA; LIASA; Rotary; Volkswagen South Africa; The Bookery; and Zisize Ingwavuma Educational Trust, aims to raise awareness among adults and caregivers of the vital role of reading aloud in children’s literacy development by issuing a brand new story and calling on its friends, partners and members of the public to join them in reading it out loud to children on the same day.
Last year, with the help of the nation, over 300 000 children heard a special story read to them in their own language and this year read-aloud sessions – big and small – are planned nationally. Some community reads will be led by Nali’bali, and others will be organised by members of the public with schools, libraries, fellow literacy organisations and non-profits joining in.


Reading aloud is an important building block in children’s literacy development: it shows them how stories work; it teaches that reading and stories can be meaningful and satisfying; it offers an opportunity for adults and children to connect and get to know each other in relaxed ways, and, when read in home languages, it builds the foundations that children will need to learn a second language. This is particularly vital for school children making the transition from instruction in their home language to English in Grade 4.


“Nal’ibali sees World Read Aloud Day as one of the most important events on our calendar,” says Jade Jacobsohn, Nal’ibali Managing Director. “Children who are immersed in great and well-told stories – in languages they understand – become inspired and are motivated to learn to read for themselves.”



For Nal’ibali, one of the most important components of WRAD is the way that the day ignites a groundswell of reading:

“Everyone can join in and be part of an initiative that benefits each and every one of us,” said Ben Rycroft, Head of Communications at Nal’ibali.  “This is just the beginning. We are confident that people will realise that reading aloud is fun as well as meaningful, and will continue throughout the year.”


“Being able to enjoy a story in your own language is really special. We hope to hear echoes of the story in different languages and in different voices as the adults and caregivers around us take up the call to read aloud. ” concludes Jacobsohn.



To take part in World Read Aloud Day 2017, fill in the pledge form and access this year’s special story at and  You can also follow the campaign on Facebook and Twitter: nalibaliSA.




For media interviews please contact Petunia Thulo at 021 556 4777 or email at


Notes to editors: World Read Aloud Day background

Each year Nal’ibali sends out a call to all their partners to join them in celebrating this day and help pass on the power of reading aloud. Now, Nal’ibali is extending the invitation once again as they attempt to break their 2016 record of reading aloud to 510 000 children – something Nal’ibali can do with your help!

The story will be available in a digital format in all 11 official South African languages and related activity ideas as well as tips on reading aloud can be accessed from the website

The Psychosis of Writing

It is a self-inflicted affliction of deadlines and time limits as the ego supersedes the superego of acknowledgement and affirmation. The dregs of cold coffee and the dust of tea leaves a quarter of the way to unfinished tea are indications of the mind that asserts its assault on the keys of the notebook. I doggedly chip away the hours pounding and tapping to be received in some strange way by an unknown audience and then realize that the placebo is procrastination which in turn is my jailer and words that entrap my mind enslave me to my passion.

It is a psychosis of the worst affliction as I waft on the wings of hope and helplessness. The acceptance of a manuscript which can set me off on the manic high of self infused adrenaline or the bipolarity of an extreme low on a rejection slip, and all of this based on opinion or the critique of one person; one person on the receiving of my manuscript who can elevate me to entitlement or drown me in my psychosis.

Writing is a bitch! No, perhaps it is plain prostitution! You literally sell yourself and your art to the highest bidder and become enslaved. There is no entitlement there. At the beck and call of publishers and marketers, it is all about pimping of the master, the mind and the market. There lies a piece of us in everything we write. I become dehumanized as I look into the soul of an art that is psychotic. My heart is undressed. I am naked in my self-doubt, impregnated with visions of success and aborted on failure.

There is no antipsychotic for this psychosis, the psychosis that runs so deep into social genetics it is viral.

Copyright: FionaKhan



Paso Doble


               When you dance with the Devil, the Devil does not change, you do!


Afroze stood at the gurgling tap performing her ablutions when she heard a feint whimper. It took a discerning ear to pick the strains of agony that seeped above the hive of pilgrims that thronged the valley.

The valley of Muna lay asleep apart from the occasional crunch of a slipper on the pebbled sand. The bleached tents had a sullen glow as they hemmed the valley in rows of scalloped lace. She turned in the direction of the whimper, dipping her head a little to the right and then the left in trying to find the muffled sound.

A calm sobriety enveloped Muna. All the pilgrims lay supine in their tents, exhausted from the first day of stoning Satan. The five-day ritual of Hajj was the most elevating experience she had ever had. A simple, humble woman, it was her cherished dream to perform the Hajj. She had dreamed on many occasions of walking the plains of Mount Arafat or circumambulating the Kaaba.  Now she has realized her dream. Afroze was most elevated in spirit knowing that the ritual of the stoning was for two more days, and then she could leave for home. She missed her children immensely wanting to feel their soft arms around her….

The soft whimper interrupted her thoughts again. Stepping stealthily in the direction of the sound, she was sure someone was injured. Straining her ears, the sound had receded. Shrugging the thoughts of exasperation, she stepped along the pathway to her tent when she heard the whimpering grow louder. Each measured step drew her closer to the sound.


Afroze, together with her husband and other pilgrims, were sheltered in bleached tents. The tents were close to the foot of the stairs leading to the bridge where the pelting of the jamiraats or the symbolism for Satan was performed.  The jamiraats stood as representations of the Prophet Abraham’s temptation by Satan and the firm refusal to be tempted. Gazing at the bridge where the protrusions punctuated the smooth skyline, there were a few pilgrims that wandered in their starched white ehraams (two pieces of white cloth to cover the loin and the torso).

‘Please… Help me.’

She stepped a little closer. Not seeing anybody, she turned to walk away, when the words reverberated.

‘Please, help me?’

‘Who are you?’ She asked in a hoarse whisper, afraid to awaken anyone else. ‘I can’t see you.’

‘Over here,’ called the voice. ‘I can see you. Please, help me.’

Straining her neck and delicately arching her body, she searched everywhere until she saw a little movement beneath the stair. It was dark with only a pale shadow of illumination streaming from a distant lamp, but the unmistakable gleam of his skin and the white orbs of his eyes penetrated the darkness. The voice was unmistakably male.

‘You are a man. I cannot speak with you alone. I shall call for help,’ with which she quickly turned away.

‘Don’t!’ the command was delicately menacing. She stopped in mid-stride. With a little sob he said, ‘Dear kind and gentle lady, I seek only your help. If anyone else were to see my face, I would be a doomed man.  Please, say that you will help me?’

‘You know I cannot talk to you nor be alone in your company. It is unacceptable! I will call someone.’

‘No!’ He winced. A bitter shiver dribbled down her spine as she heard the hollow voice.

‘You must help me. Nobody else will. Come a little closer and you shall see my wounds. Come! I am dying.’

Hesitantly she stepped closer to the figure sprawled in the shadows of darkness.  Gasping, she clasped a hand over her mouth as she saw the dark stain of blood oozing from the wounds. Tears spilled in confusion and fear. Why did this person have to choose her? What could she do, a foreigner in an unfamiliar land?

‘I cannot do anything. I will call the authorities. They will rush you to the nearest hospital.’

Turning to leave, he clinched her hand in an icy grip. She looked at the hand, her eyes growing wider, not just with fear, but also with alarm.

‘Who are you?’ she swallowed, looking at the gnarled nails, feeling the strength of the grip scorching her soul, an icy hand clasp her heart and enclose it.

‘You know. … Deep in your heart you know who I am’.

Turning away, ‘I…I do not know you. I never saw you before. You’re …’

He exalted in her confusion. He touched her fear.

‘Have you not pelted me with your stones, throwing your accursed lamentations on me while I writhed in agony?’

‘You can’t be!’

‘I am! I am Satan. Your accursed, the condemned’s blessed.’  He coughed in agony, a weak, cowardly cough that shook his hapless body as he writhed in agony.

Crying, she wrestled with his grip, trying to free her hand, his nails ripping through her pale skin,

‘Stay away from me.  You are Evil!’ She turned to walk away then stopped in midstride.


‘You were thrown out of Heaven. An outcast, which is you! This is trickery…’  Her words deliberate, she smiled knowingly as she glared at him, and then burst into hysterical laughter at her epiphany, ‘Ah!  This is a test from God, isn’t it?’  She turned away speaking to herself, ‘How stupid of me, I should have known.  I have weathered many difficulties. This is it, my final submission to God!’

He squeezed harder on her arm until she yelped in pain. ‘Don’t ever mention His name in my presence. I despise Him! No father would abandon his child. But He . . . He did!’ his hiss was spiked with venom and self-pity.

‘God?’ She started a frenzy of dementia, ‘God is the Greatest! God is Great!’

‘Please, do you think it was your God that gave you pleasure and solace when your husband beat you? Was it your God that gave you comfort to sleep peacefully each night knowing that you were filled with anger and revulsion?’

She stopped and choked on her tears.

‘Yes! Let all those tears flow in pity.  I knew of your tears and wiped them away with resentment, your pain I turned into resolve and your breaking heart I strengthened with hatred. You became a woman rather than a spineless victim.’

‘No!’ She yanked at her hand, swelling in his frozen grip.

‘Yes! Why did you turn in my direction when I called? You have headed that call before.’ He reached her fear and his smug triumph snaked in every word he sputtered.

‘No!’ she shook her head feverishly.

‘You were one of my most challenging wards.  Strong willed, just a hint of defiance and unwavering once you made your decision. Many times, battles waged within your conscience but I had my fair share.  Did you not come here for forgiveness?’ He watched the rampant emotions skip across her face, ‘If you were not a sinner, why would you seek redemption?’

Shaking her head and choking on her sobs, ‘I cannot believe that I am having this conversation with you.  I must be hallucinating,’ she rolled her eyes heavenwards. He thrust her hand away in distaste. Turning her back she hastened away, her heart pounding, heaving as she sipped in the cold night air, cheeks flushed she could feel the blood hurtling through her bloodstream.

‘You have two more days here’. His voice followed her in a calm that riled her. ‘How can you stone me when I am already dead? Can you live with yourself knowing that you have deceived so many people?’

She raised her weary head, sobbing with self loathing she looked at the plains that spread before her.  The canopies of canvas harmonized on the palette of people meandering among the periphery of her blurred revelation.  This could not be happening. Often, had she wrestled with her superego, and then her ego? She sighed, a deep intake of breath that rose from the recesses of her chest. There was always a test on her endurance, her patience, her tolerance, her tenacity! She had reached the level of self-actualization after many years of self –sacrifice moreover, pain.

Yes! She had turned away in despondency on many occasions. She had wished and prayed that all her problems would dissipate in her unselfish and all consuming devotion to the Almighty. She had lamented and prayed, bowed in prayer and raised her hands in veneration. She cried on the mercy and blessings, on the intercessions of the Prophet and all of Almighty’s saints and angels to ease her burden. There were times when she gave up in frustration and impatience wondering why he did not listen to her supplications. It was then that she turned away in anger. She felt that there was no God. She felt abandoned in her hour of need even if God listening to her.  How often did her friends from all religions comfort her? Their words of solace were, ‘Pray!’

It was at one such weak moment of abandonment that a very opportune moment inspired her with quiet words of comfort. She knew then that the Almighty would never leave her side.

Afroze was a child of the universe! Her mind consumed the words of all religions and philosophies that inspired her to be vociferous and eloquent. Many sipped her words as she inspired, encouraged and consoled.  Sometimes she wished she followed her very advice as she hid behind the veil of pain and deceit.

Witnessing the marriage of a friend in a church, she was impressed when the words ‘Footprints’ were emblazoned on an ornate door. Her curiosity tickled her feet to step towards the words encrypted against a backdrop of the rising sun and footprints imprinted on the sand of the shore. The words screamed in her mind now. Her faith and everlasting companion will always be beside her.

In your darkest and weakest moments, God is carrying you.

She raised her head heavenwards, ‘Was the All Forgiving and Merciful carrying her now?’

She looked at the decrepit figure among the shadows of darkness and new, the Almighty was where her Footprints would always belong. She new, that her faith was unwavering. This awakening strengthened her belief and resolve; that all she had patiently awaited was finally upon her.

This was her choice! This moment… she turned towards the gleaming orbs … this moment was hers to do with as she wished. The world was in her hands. The glimmer in his eyes was unmistakable. He was sure he had finally won by working on her feelings of guilt and repressed disillusionment. Her smile was deliberate and played around her lips!

copyright: Fiona Khan

Charity in Islam

Bismillah ar Rahman ar Rahim

Upon the blessings of of our beloved Prophet Muhammed (SAW)

The greatest sacrifice, the ultimate in submission, a noble man who had forsaken everything for the religion he was ordained with and believed in . . . Our Prophet Muhammed (SAW).

A woman, a role model to all women, his wife  Hazrath Kathija (RA) had bequeathed all her wealth to our Prophet and his quest to spread Islam and fulfil his prophethood.

Such was the charity, sacrifice and volunteerism of two great people whom we revere, an example and role model to the 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide. This volunteerism, service and charity is the hall mark of Islam. Our Prophet and the Ahlul Bayt built a society orientated to public and community service. The formula is simple: Build a peaceful society which consists of service to others (family and needy) and service to Allah (through prayer). This grants us the benefit of the the here and now and the salvation of the hereafter.

  • You shall not attain righteousness until you spend out of what you love( in the way of Allah). Allah knows whatever you spend.(3:92)
  • The believer’s shade on the Day of Resurrection will be his charity. – Al- Tirmidhi -604
  • Every act of goodness is charity: – Muslim – 496

Every Muslim is encouraged to have financial independence in order to help others. However, charity also pertains to time, effort and the environment. Being the third pillar of Islam, Zakaath or  charity is a way of life. It encourages the teaching of skill and trade if money is unavailable. Furthermore, the imparting of knowledge becomes charity and ones service to the public and community. So, what does all of this mean to the mere mortals of this world? It means total submission to the Almighty. It means an unquestionable belief in His will and being at His mercy, not just paying lip service in His praise. Our destiny may be pre-ordained but our choices are operated by the Supreme Selector, free from compulsion.  Our belief determines whether we make good or bad choices knowing that our choices are guided. When we ‘ give’ in cash or kind, the giving must be for the pleasure of Allah. It then follows that the pleasure must be in the pleasure of giving and not what one would gain as reward.  Fi Sabi Lillah – is a brilliant phrase. It tells us to give for the pleasure of Allah.

Muslims around the world are known for their generosity. They are most giving, always charitable, volunteering without materialism and all for the pleasure of the All Knowing.  There are those who will ask for a dua or ask for duas for their family when giving charity and prompting conditions. When one gives something , one is giving off one’s self hence there should be no conditions. One’s heart ought to be filled with love and warmth at giving as Allah Azwajal  sees everything and your charity is for His pleasure.

The Prophet said:

Every Muslim should give charity

When asked if one cannot:

He said: Then go find work with his hands and help himself and others

When asked again if he cannot give charity:

He said: He should help someone in need

Then again he was asked if he cannot give charity?

He said: Then he should command what is right in good deeds and perform what is good,

Keep away from Evil and that will be regarded as charitable deeds.


(Shahih Al -Bukhari 2: 524)

Such is the generosity of our religion and on being a Muslim every act, even the act of worship or prayer is an act of charity. Volunteerism frees one from compulsion. It allows a person organisational skills, encourages self empowerment and assessment, it motivates and elevates the spirit, provides vision and perception and encourages a continued commitment to society.

Your time is your charity in helping the needy, assisting in your homes, helping yourself and others and enjoying the uplifting feeling of freedom. The freedom of . . . serving and the freedom of choice.


© FionaKhan/14/SANZAFcalligraphy1.jpg