Like most world-class cities, Gaborone will soon have its own sought-after book festivals that celebrate the local literary landscape.
This is thanks to the establishment of the Gaborone Book Festival. The activities of the festival will start later this month with a book review session and book night gig.
Addressing the press at the Meatin’ Joint in Molapo Crossing, the organisers Keikantse and Kenanao Phele noted that as bookworms they had realised that reading culture among Batswana was appalling.
They noted that their vision and mission was to inspire people of all ages, races, gender and religion to read, and appreciate the transformative power of books. Keikantse said they had attended several book festivals, including the recent Durban Book Festival and were impressed by how big the festival was and the great audience and the impact of books.
Kenanao said that they had also started a school outreach programme that had started off at Camp School in Village. “Through this programme, we encourage children to tell their stories and also inculcate a love for reading within them from a young age,” she said. They want to make reading as attractive to young people as possible.
They are also committed to exposing local authors through various platforms and that is why they have come up with the book night, the first, which will be held at University of Botswana Library Auditorium. Keikantse said that they would host four local published authors: Lauri Kubuitsile, Kagiso Madibana, Modirwa Kekwaletse and Thabo Katlholo.
“They will all read from their books and engage the audience through questions and discussions. We want to make it as fun and interactive as possible,” she said. They both acknowledged that there were many solo readers in Botswana and they wanted to create platforms for all these individuals to engage with like-minded people.
Keikantse, who has a passion for African literature, noted that there are many refreshing new writers in the Diaspora. “Ten years ago the literary environment was lukewarm but we have seen an emergence of brilliant and exciting authors who bring excellent content.
“Most of these books spark interesting conversation around the narrative of our continent. The writing has decolonised my mind because the writing is relatable and I can identify with the stories.
The Book Festival will give both established and aspirant writers a platform to share their ideas and offerings,” she said.
The main Book Festival, slated for September, will be a three-day programme that would include workshops, public discussions and showcases.
The team noted that they are working around the clock to include as many upcoming and established local writers as possible, and were also working around the clock to bring on board more sponsors to amplify the event and help them spread the message on the power of reading.