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FADA Home Preface About Artists

Siya Masuku



Type of book work: Editioned / printed work; Unique / sculptural book-object (one-of-a-kind) and Digital work
Dimensions: 330 X 440 (prints)
Media: Lino, hand-painted, online

Artist's / designer's statements

Making Siyafunda: isiZulu happened between February 2015 and November 2015. 25 Combinations of animals representing each letter on the Zulu alphabet were illustrated. The illustrations where linocut and printed.

With Siyafunda: isiZulu, the phonetics of the Zulu language take precedence over the alphabetical order of the names of the animals.

Assonance and alliteration are important themes throughout the book. These aspects come in handy when children have to distinguish between C, Q and X sounds in the Zulu alphabet.

It's easier for children to remember the words through the power of association. Siyafunda: isiZulu makes learning isiZulu beautiful and easy for the children.

Siya illustrated the images using the "negative and positive space" method. This is to influence the viewer to create parts of the image out of imagination.


Siya is a talented athlete who has represented South Africa in three Touch Rugby World Cups during the years 2001 to 2011, the crowning achievement of which was a bronze medal at the 2011 World Cup in Edinburgh, Scotland. Siya went to primary school at Malvern Primary and high school at Jeppe Boys in the Johannesburg suburb of Kensington.

From 2004-2006 he studied communication design, communication design technology, professional design practice, design studies and visualization in the form of Graphic Design at the University of Johannesburg. In his first year of study he was awarded the Best Student Drawing Award by Technikon Witwatersrand, which merged with Rand Afrikaans University two years after to form the University of Johannesburg. When financial difficulties forced him to discontinue his studies he began his graphic design career as a freelancer. He has worked on corporate identity, website layout, newspaper layout and calendar design. He has worked on a number of prestigious design projects for high-profile clients. In 2013, Siya founded SLVRMNDS, a graphic arts company. The flexible nature of the company meant that Siya could work on projects that he is passionate about, such as the Book Dash initiative that brings together creative professionals to create new African storybooks that anyone can freely translate and distribute. After a lengthy discussion with his mother, Nqobile Nxumalo - a highly experienced teacher who taught isiZulu for many years - about the critical shortage of books in township schools, Siya set out to make a book that would help children learn isiZulu and his mother agreed to edit it. The outcome is Siyafunda: isiZulu, a published picture book designed for those that are learning isiZulu at primary level. The book has an English Translator page that is dedicated to those that cannot speak or read isiZulu. Siya is in the process of growing the Siyafunda team. A dedicated online developer and a narrator are ready to help usher Siyafunda onto a digital platform. Siya was also a panelist at the 2016 Soweto Art Week, discussing how he - through Siyafunda - deals with issues of representation in terms of language and education, the '113%' success of the online crowdfunding campaign, and how Siyafunda Online has fared in terms of participating in the creative economy.

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