The 11th instalment of the Funda Mzantsi Championship kicked-off on Monday (04 October 2021) amid much fanfare and swelling expectations from participating offenders from all six regions of the Department of Correctional Services (DCS).
In his keynote address, acting National Commissioner, Makgothi Thobakgale said the hybrid format of this year’s national championship has opened a window into the future, and has further amplified the need to envision, embrace and adapt to a new world, driven by technological innovation. “Kick-starting the 11th Funda Mzantsi Championship in this fashion gives us strength in terms of redefining our state machinery to operate within the new normal, as we strive to make a difference and deliver on the mandate prescribed to us by the Constitution of our country,” said Thobakgale.
Acting National Commissioner Thobakgale hailed this noble initiative (Funda Mzantsi Championship) by the National Library of South Africa (NLSA) in collaboration with DCS, in helping to restore society’s moral fibre, and to realise rehabilitation outcomes of the Department. “As Correctional Services, we have accepted the power of reading and writing as instrumental in raising aspirations for inmates, thus propelling them to lead productive and fulfilling lives while in custody and on release,” he posited.
The 2021 Funda Mzantsi Championship is held under the theme: “Developing Creative Minds”. In marking the official opening, Acting Commissioner Thabakgale reminded the participants and organisers that reading builds critical thinking and drives a culture of innovation. To this end, he implored everyone across the spectrum to inculcate a culture of reading in their everyday life.
The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has compelled the organisers of the competition to be innovative and adapt to the new normal, by using technology to bridge the digital divide. For the first in history, the competition will be streamed live through a hybrid model linked to nine DCS locations, whilst the ANEW Hotel Capital in Pretoria will be the central site to host both the opening and closing sessions.
The participants will hope that the long hours of meticulous preparation will give them a decisive edge over their competitors as they all jostle for honours over the four-day competition. The offenders’ mental aptitude and razor sharp acumen will come under microscopic scrutiny over the duration of the competition. Judging by the high level of competition on display during first two days, the adjudicators will have a difficult task selecting the overall winners in categories being contested (i.e. reading and book review).
The aim of the Funda Mzantsi Competition is to infuse a culture of reading, promote South Africa’s language diversity, literacy, and to encourage all citizens to read, write, converse, and value ideas and thoughts of others. The competition is taking place from 4 – 7 October 2021.