SA sees boom in Zulu print media
Updated: 2011-04-06 08:04
By Tabelo Timse (China Daily)
JOHANNESBURG - Five newspapers line a vendor's makeshift table built from cardboard and sticks, but most customers go straight for Isolezwe, one of South Africa's growing Zulu-language dailies.
"I guess people feel comfortable reading in their language," says Blessings Kupe from his stand at a busy Johannesburg taxi rank where he offers the country's most-read papers, all English titles like Daily Sun and The Star.
Even Kupe, a Zimbabwean who speaks Shona, has started reading the newspaper so he can learn Zulu.
While most South African print media battle declining circulations and an advertising market still soft after the 2009 recession, Zulu-language papers are flourishing, with more titles appearing and sales rising.
"I enjoy reading Isolezwe because it's Zulu and it's written in a conversational tone," said Bafana Mthethwa, a 40-year-old shop assistant at Kupe's stand.
The tabloid-style Isolezwe, which means "Eye of the Nation", is also one of the cheapest papers on the market, selling for 2.80 rands ($0.40).
South Africa has 20 daily and 13 weekly newspapers, making it the most vibrant newspaper market in the region.
Most are in English, which is the language of government and business even though only 8 percent of the population are native speakers.
Zulu, on the other hand, is the mother tongue of 24 percent of the population, concentrated in the eastern province of KwaZulu-Natal.
The Zulu press has a long history in South Africa, with titles like Ilanga (The Sun) and UmAfrica (The African) published in KwaZulu-Natal for over a century.
Isolezwe was launched in 2002 and is now the country's third-most popular paper, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulation.
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