Poet and writer builds a library

FLAXMAN Qoopane, a poet, journalist, writer, publisher and storyteller, always had a dream of owning a library one day.

Little did he know that a few years' down the line, his biggest dream would come true.

Qoopane has now established his own "literary gallery" and children's library in Hillside View in Rocklands, Bloemfontein, in a metal shed that was donated by a Johannesburg businessman two years ago.

The library, which is close to the University of the Free State satellite campus in Mangaung, caters for about 100 children.

Qoopane said the library is growing by leaps and bound every day.

The writer and poet, who has showcased his work in countries such as the Netherlands, Italy, the United Kingdom, Mozambique and Lesotho, said he wants to develop a culture of reading among the children in his community.

He told Sowetan yesterday that the Hillside Children's Library was opened after he realised how many children roamed the streets.

"Every day I would sit around my yard and see young children as young as five running around for no apparent reason and I looked at my yard and said to myself - that is sufficient space for me to do something for the kids," Qoopane said.

He started to think about the idea and approached the University of the Free State. It donated 1000 books to the library just before the World Cup kicked off last year.

A leading book store also donated a number of books.

Qoopane said he realised that he now had the books he needed to open the facility.

A businessman from Johannesburg liked the idea and donated a metal shed with a few chairs and tables to the project.

Qoopane said he was thrilled.

He said he then started to collect old newspapers and requested books from various people in the area.

He then invited children to the library and they started to come in throngs.

Qoopane said reading is important to the children and he is happy he is contributing to his community.

One of the children who spoke to Sowetan was Mpho Mokhuoa.

She was very enthusiastic and said that they were delighted to have a library in the community.

"We spend a better part of the afternoon in the library after school.

"Our school work has improved significantly.

"We would also like to invite kids from other areas to visit our library to learn more about a number of issues," she said.

Qoopane said he would be happy to have a "proper library" in his house.

He said he is also trying to promote the development of journalism and literature in the Free State.