The blog changing South Africa’s reading culture
Are you aware of the digital literary phenomenon that is “Diary of a Zulu Girl”? With the tagline, “From mud huts, umqomboti, and straightback to penthouses, expensive weaves, and Moet,” “Diary of a Zulu Girl” tells the quintessential story of small-town girl/boy moving to big city and using their looks to get ahead. In this case, readers follow the story of Thandeka Mkhize and her escapades as a law student in Johannesburg.
“Diary of a Zulu Girl” seems to have been destined for success from the start. Within five months of the blog launching, it had gained 10 million page views from 22 countries. Readers identified with the racy themes of this piece of fiction despite grammatical errors that plague chapters. “Diary of a Zulu Girl” reads like gossip told in the form of daily entries in Thandeka’s diary. Apparently, people in South Africa either know someone who has gone through the same lifestyle as Thandeka or who are experiencing it themselves.
The author of the series, Nkululeko Maphoto employed smart techniques to secure the popularity of “Diary of a Zulu Girl.” Employing cliff-hangers and calls to action at the end of each chapter encouraged the audience to interact and ensured their return. Maphoto carefully used feedback from fans to shape the direction of his work. “Diary of a Zulu Girl” now follows multiple storylines. There is “Missteps of a Young Wife,” “ZuluGirlGoes2Jhb,” “Memoirs of a Tired Black Man,” and “Confessions of a Sugar Baby,” which follows the story of a high school girl who gets entangled with a sugar daddy. Altogether, these series cover themes ranging from sexuality and corruption to xenophobia and party-life.
From its humble start as a page on Tumblr, “Diary of a Zulu Girl” has now become a franchise. The success of “Diary of a Zulu Girl” has seemingly affected not only the South African publishing scene but also its reading and writing culture. Maphoto is now a self-published author and script writer. “Dairy of a Zulu Girl” is available in e-book format on iTunes and Amazon. Premium posts hidden behind a PIN password are uploaded on the website every weekend. A multiple-season TV series is rumoured to be in the pre-production stage, as well.
Are you reading Diary of a Zulu Girl? Does the series encourage South Africans to read more? Let us know by leaving a comment below or reaching me on Twitter @rafeeeeta