About 100 female writers from across Botswana will be published in an anthology that is expected to hit the shelves later this year or early 2018.
The anthology is co-edited by Dr. Mary Lederer, Professor Maitseo Bolane, Dr. Leloba Molema and Dr. Connie Rapoo. Speaking at a seminar hosted by the University of Botswana English Department on Friday, Lederer said that they had realised that there is a large stream of writing talent in Botswana. She expressed relief that the project was finally taking as it had long been in the pipeline. She noted that they had faced a few challenges but they had overcome these hurdles although they still needed more support. “We faced several challenges that included financial setbacks but we wanted to ensure the project sees the light of day. Thankfully, we managed to secure funding to pay the contributors because we believe in rewarding creative talent. It is not much as there are a lot of contributors but it is something.”
Lederer also echoed sentiments that publishing in Botswana is a tall order and books of this nature were welcome as they accord good writers a platform and encourage them to keep writing and sharing their experiences. Bolane made a presentation on the importance of the inclusion of historical material in the anthology. She said it was important to learn about the role and impact of women in historical context and in contemporary times as history often informs or influences the present. “Even in the modern age, we note how some men trivialise challenges that affect women. Socially, we still deal with issues of rape, sometimes even in marriage, illiteracy among women, patriarchy and gender based violence among others,” she said. She added that important statements of historical significance like the Beijing 1994 conference would be included.
Rapoo noted that the project was a labour of love. She said that she had been amused by childhood songs which when unpacked, had different metaphoric translation that gave them new meaning. She further said that it had been refreshing to read of the experiences of women in Botswana and peep into their secret thoughts, some of which they would not want to articulate publicly. Molema made an interesting presentation on ‘What constitutes as art?’ exploring whether, for example, court statements and letters could be categorised as art the way poems and short stories are. Also in attendance were young writers Ndibo Tebape, Vamika Sinha, Phemelo Tlalanyane, Mosadi Dube and Cherly Motsumi among others, who read their work.
The Women Writing Botswana project is aimed at documenting works of Batswana women who write, appreciate literary talent and share the experiences of local women with the reading community. The anthology that features upcoming and established writers, includes court statements, poems, short stories, social commentary and opinion pieces, songs, drama scripts and letters. The works include material by renowned writer Bessie Head, Unity Dow, Athalia Molokomme, Mosadi Seboko among many other esteemed women in Botswana society. It also includes creative writers like TJ Dema, Lauri Kubuitsile and Wame Molefhe and many more. Media writers and journalists featured include Priscilla Mathara (short stories and non-fiction), Keletso Thobega (poetry and non-fiction), Tumi Modise (non-fiction), Gothataone Moeng (short stories), Mpho Mokwape and Nnasaretha Kgamanyane (non-fiction), Yvonne Mooka nee Ditlhase (non-fiction), Gosego Motsumi (short stories, poetry and non-fiction), and Boitshepo Balozwi (non-fiction), among others. The material was sourced through print media and from entries to the Bessie Head writing competition. Those in attendance were given a chance to skim through the thick manuscript for the book, anticipated to have 400-500 pages.