BHHT announced that the writing competition will not be held in 2012, and no awards will be made. "The trust has several reasons for this decision. First the competition has become large. Last year's competition drew 125 entrants. The Trust had not anticipated such a response and had difficulties in administering such a number of manuscripts. We realised that in the future we would need a different organisation to administer the Awards, perhaps a regular secretariat instead of an ad-hoc group of Trustees," the trust explained in a statement.The statement further said that because setting up such an infrastructure requires time and reflection, the Trust decided to delay the next competition by at least a year.
It also explained that its dedicated financial sponsor, Pentagon Publishers, who have donated P28,500 of prize money to date, had decided that they could no longer continue as the sole source of funding for the Awards.
"They have generously promised prize money for one further year of the competition. Thereafter the trust will need a new financial sponsor or group of sponsors. As finding fresh financing requires time and patience, again we felt it would be better to delay the next round of the competition," the trust noted.
The trust has emphasised its commitment to the cause of writing in Botswana. "We intend to resume the Literature Awards as soon as this is possible, hopefully in 2013. We have already begun an overall review of the competitions so far, with the goal of making them more effective and satisfying in a revised format," the statement further states.
The Trust has invited entrants and judges, both past and current to submit feedback on their experiences of the competitions and the awards so far, which they believe will go a long way in helping the Trust in evaluating and improving the competition.
The Bessie Head Heritage Trust was established in June 2007 to promote the life and work of Bessie Head both in Botswana and abroad. Since then the trust has sponsored five consecutive writing competitions leading to the Bessie Head Literature Awards. The competitions are meant to help preserve Bessie Head's legacy in Botswana, since she is regarded as the country's most famous writer who has gained broad recognition overseas, and to encourage the development of local literature in various genres in English.
Past winners of the Bessie Head Literature Awards are as follows:
* 2007: Novel - Khonani Ontebetse for
Short Story: Bontekanye Botumile
Poetry: Monty Fanikiso Moswela;
* 2008: Novel - Phidson Mojokeri for Curse of a Dream.
Short Story: Lauri Kubuitsile for Solar Heater.
Poetry: Ita Mannathoko for Kgalagadi, the Great Thirst;
*2009: Novel - Cheryl Selase Ntumy for Crossing. Short Story: Gothataone Moeng for Putting On Faces. Poetry: Luda Sekga for He Was My Oppressor; and
* 2010: Novel - Tshetsana Senau for Travelling To The Sun: The Diary Of Ruth. Short Story: Legodile Seganabeng for The Moon Has Eyes. Children's Story: Jenny Robson for The Right Time.