Friday 9 October 2009

On a new m-novel

A correspondent writes from South Africa's Shuttleworth Foundation to tell me about the world's first m-novel written in English and isiXhosa (an indigenous South African language). It's a teen mystery story set in Cape Town about four graffiti writing friends. You can read it (still evolving) at Kontax on your PC or a WAP-enabled phone.

The Foundation believes that m-novels have the potential to be big in Africa and wants to explore this space through a project they're calling m4Lit. It's planning to conduct research with 50 teens in Cape Town to understand their experience of the m-novel within a broader literacy context. Post-project papers are planned too. The comments from users so far are really interesting.

I'd come across m-novels and short stories in Japan, China, India, and a few other places, when I was writing Txtng: the Gr8 Db8, but I'd not encountered it in Africa, and certainly not involving a language like Xhosa. Given the remarkable growth of mobile phones in Africa, where they foster communication in areas which don't have good computer connections, I wouldn't be surprised if the genre catches on. It could be a useful additional strategy for involving young people in community languages that are endangered.


tytania said...

sorry, but what does "m" stand for?

DC said...


Unknown said...

Tytania, you can read more about them on Wikipedia:

Laine Cole said...

Interesting! As a South African the last few years have been exciting to witness: a blending of langauges, especially English, Xhose, Zulu and Afrikaans reflect the fading lines of Apartheid amongst the younger generations. This must lend itself beautifully to original m-stories - a real language/technology mashup.