The manuscript formed part of a private collection of Sekoto’s sketches, artworks, letters and memoirs repatriated to South Africa from France. The story was clearly written and illustrated as a personal exercise and possibly a sentimental souvenir of his own childhood memories, but has not been published until now. Sekoto may well have composed it as a gift for children of friends, as he was often engaged in making greeting cards with accompanying illustrations. There are other unfinished stories and musical compositions in the estate collection, but Shorty and Billy Boy is the most complete.
The Gerard Sekoto Foundation has approved a number of editorial changes made to Sekoto’s original text, where the aim has been to preserve the integrity and flavour of the unpublished story, while making it more accessible to present-day readers. The South African context of the tale has been accentuated, and obsolete language and minor inconsistencies have been removed. The result is a timeless and engaging story that retains Sekoto’s unique spirit and imagination.