Meet Tom Holzinger, a real life character in a Bessie Head book

It is not always that one gets to meet a real-life character in a book, and Botswana-based author Tom Holzinger is one of those lucky people whose lives have been immortalised in a book, Bessie Head's A Question of Power.

Bessie Head, perhaps along with Alexander McCall-Smith are the two writers who although born outside the country put Botswana on the world map. While many still have the chance to see McCall-Smith because he is still alive and for the past few years has been able to visit Botswana yearly, few ever got the chance to see and interact with Bessie Head. Holzinger writes of his first chance encounter with the famed author in Francistown in the late 1960s: 'Ace (South African political activist Mxolisi Mgxashe) comes looking for me during my last evening in town. "Look," he says, "There's this woman writer you have to meet." He points to his temple. "Her name is Bessie Head, 'head' like your head, and she's with us in the PAC. She's in the Tati Hotel bar. Come."

We walk into the main bar with its long row of stools. No luck with any woman writer. The usual collection of desperate men. I hate it when they ask white strangers for drinking money. I want to leave. "No," says Ace. "The back room." We push our way to a rear door that leads into a small drinking room with tables and chairs. Ace goes in first. He sweeps his arm. "Come, she's here."Indeed she is. Madame Bessie Head holds court in her salon, a tough-talking duchess surrounded by male retainers and admirers. They love the flow of her words. I don't see her face at first. She sits on a low stool facing away from us, cigarette in hand. She swings around to see who the newcomers are. She's round and brown. "Ace!" she announces with pleasure, then looks me over from top to bottom. There is a long moment as she takes in my skin, age, clothing, glasses. Then a quick laugh before waving me into a chair. She resumes her tirade against the colonials. I gather that they are this evening's enemy. Her rough language I find sometimes funny, sometimes embarrassing. If she is a writer, she is an unusual one.'

Editor's Comment
Has life become worthless?

As many wondered what wrong the young boy could have done to end up killed, it emerged that his own cousin was a suspect in the murder after he claimed P50,000 from Botswana Life. Thato Tsametse, who was last week sentenced to death for the murder of his cousin, had reportedly taken out two Mmoloki Funeral Covers valued at P25,000 each.Over the years, the media has been covering the murder case, and some revelation has come up that certain...

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