Remember the column I wrote a few weeks ago about how you can help writers in the country? And how I said you should attend writers’ book launches and Tweet about them and put them on Facebook and make such events seriously cool places to be with crowds of interesting people (including you) and lively engaging literary conversation? Remember that?
Well that also includes literary award ceremonies and here is your opportunity to implement one of your 2016 New Year’s Resolutions: Support Botswana’s Writers!
Tomorrow at 2 pm get yourself to the National Museum for the awards ceremony for last year’s Bessie Head Short Story Competition. It’s lining up to be an exciting event you should not miss if you are keen about writing, writers, and our literary heritage.
The Bessie Head Heritage Trust has been doing a sterling job over the years promoting and nurturing our emerging writers and they are a group we should all support with every opportunity that we can get.
What will be happening at the awards on Saturday?
The main event will be the awarding of the prizes to last year’s winners, with each of them reading an excerpt from their story. And oh what a stellar group of winners they are!
First place, with his story ‘The Biggest Continent’ is actor Donald Molosi (don’t you want to meet and talk to him?).
His is a sexy story that looks at stereotypes and the effect such views have on people and the way they behave.
In second place, we have Twitter giant and TedEx super-star Siyanda Mohutsiwa with her story ‘And Then We Disappeared into Some Guy’s Car’ (such a fantastic title, by the way!). It’s about a girl struggling to find her way in Gaborone at the University of Botswana. It’s a sort of beautiful, sad stream of consciousness, a powerful story full of truths.
And in third place is ‘Love and the Other Almosts’ by Vamika Sinha. This story is about the conflict between true love and the expectations of parents. It is beautifully written with some evocative passages.
Diamond Educational Publishers were last year’s contest sponsors and their publishing director, Violet Ng’ong’ola, will be in attendance and will be speaking.
This might be an opportunity for you to ask some questions about publishing in the country.
Last year the contest was able to get an international panel of judges who are also working published writers who know the sort of writing that is wanted by literary magazines and publishers. The judges included Zuksiwa Wanner, a Kenyan-based writer with many published novels, most recently, London Cape Town Joburg. She was shortlisted for the 2007 K Sello Duiker Award for her first novel, The Madams. Joburg-based writer, Fiona Snyckers was also one of the judges. She is well known for her Trinity books, but now there is a lot of buzz around her psycho-thriller about a cyber-stalker called, Now Following You. Karen Jennings, now based in Brazil, was the third judge.
Her debut novel, Finding Soutbek, was shortlisted for the prestigious Etisalat Prize. These three judges gave some insightful comments about all the stories submitted for the Bessie Head Contest last year, which will be shared at the ceremony.
There will be a reading from Bessie Head, read by one of the Bessie Head Literary Trust trustees, Leloba Molema, and the chairperson of the Trust, Peter Mwikisa, will give a welcome address.
I’ll also be on the programme giving a keynote address.
Behind the trust’s running of writing contests is the belief that creative writers should never fear to write.
They remind Batswana of Bessie Head’s words in 1985, shortly before her death, when she answered the question, Why Do I Write?
She stated: “I write because I have authority from life to do so... I have built up a kind of people religion that is rooted in the African soil. My world opposes the world of politicians. They plan for and dictate to the people. In my world people plan for themselves and dictate their requirements to me. It is a world full of love, tenderness, happiness and laughter... I am building a stairway to the stars. I have the authority to take the whole of mankind up there with me. That is why I write.”
The event is open to everyone and is free. I hope to see you all there!