Bame Thokwane has launched her first book titled The Poetic Beauty at Molapo Culture Art Café on Saturday.
In this poetry collection, the author shares her journey with depression and anxiety. The book features a number of poems with the first one penned in 2011.
At the launch, Thokwane told the audience that she started writing from a tender age. That was when she discovered the power of her voice and wished to use it to share her experience about mental health. The author said she was inspired to write that book by the poetic therapy she experiences daily.
“I decided to document my experience with depression and anxiety at different stages in my life, and because they were written about real situations in real time, they present a more honest picture. Each one was written when I was going through a lot and I could not express it to anyone. Writing them was therapeutic,” she said.Thokwane explained that by the time she was writing her poems, she never thought she would compile them into a book. Thokwane said one day when she was going through her archive, she saw her poems and went through them. That was when she decided to compile them together into a book. However, she was a bit skeptical about sharing the book with the public as she was afraid of letting people know about personal life more especially during her struggles with depression and anxiety.
Ratanang Mosweu, who works as an advocate for the rights of women, children and other minority groups applauded Thokwane for her bravery in sharing her deepest fears and experiences with the public through the book. Mosweu stated, referring to World Health Organisation (WHO), that one in five young people in the globe suffers from mental health issues. He pointed even though the study shows that mental health was a great concern, it received about five percent funding.
He said it was high time the government takes mental health seriously. Mosweu added that it was time to decolonise mental health and create a space where people can share their thoughts on mental health freely. He also urged the public to mind their words when talking to people living with various mental health problems.
“Create spaces for people to tell their stories freely, a space where a person with mental health problems can be free to tell you that he or she is not feeling well. We have to do away with this mentality that mental illness is contagious,” he said.
For her part, Sadie McKenzie of Botswana Network for Mental Health said the ‘more we talk about mental health is the more we will be able to remove stigma against people suffering from different mental health problems’. The launch was graced by a number of people amongst them friends and family members. Thokwane’s aunt, Maipelo Modisa said her niece was not only inspirational to the country but to her family too. She urged her to continue writing more inspirational books. Modisa also explained that the book was therapy on its own.
The book has 50 pages and 18 poems. Three poems from the book were read during the launch. They include, Sorry, Once Upon a Time and 4am. When reciting 4am, Thokwane explained it was her favourite poem as it was dedicated to a specific person and talks about finding happiness on another person.