Last year, #Trending introduced you to illustrator Siya Masuku, who’s using illustrations to help children (and adults) learn isiZulu. Soweto-born Masuku uses his educational book Siyafunda (We Are Learning), which features 25 lively animals for each sound in the isiZulu alphabet, to teach children in a fun way.

Masuku decided to create this lovely illustrated alphabet book after being inspired by a conversation with his mother about the need for books at the primary school where she teaches, as well as to address the lack of childrens’ books written in local languages.

The Siyafunda brand has now grown to include two comic books, uNjabulo and Emkhathini, which are about to be released.

“It started as a single book about a young boy, Njabulo, relaxing at home with his family,” Masuku says of the first comic book.

“The support Njabulo receives from his parents reveals itself, particularly through his relationship with his father.

His best friends are the family dog, uJomo, and a young girl from the neighbourhood, uLanga. They love playing in the sun together, which makes for an ordinary story about family and, in the end, happiness.”

Masuku says he hopes to teach children about togetherness through the illustration of ordinary moments between a father and his son, which he says can prove to be meaningful for a young boy’s self-esteem, friendships and family interactions.

The second comic book, Emkhathini, is about the solar system, Masuku says.

“Emkhathini can be loosely translated to ‘in space’. This is travel through our solar system. Through Njabulo’s eyes, we move from one planet to the next, feeding our curiosity about the Milky Way galaxy while asking questions about some of the seemingly obvious things that make us who we are.

“These are some of the aspects that feed the protagonist’s curiosity. Njabulo aspires to be an engineer. Perhaps he’ll find a way to fly himself to space some day,” Masuku says.