Donald Molosi’s new book titled, Dear Upright African scooped the Best Narrative Award at the African Authors Awards 2019 held in Johannesburg, South Africa recently. Molosi is a Botswana-born actor and writer and in Dear Upright African, he shares personal stories of his student experiences in both government school and private school in Botswana. Molosi further uses these anecdotes to advocate for the decolonization of the curriculum in schools across Africa. The book bears a foreword by Tsitsi Dangarembga.
Last month Molosi was invited to address ambassadors and diplomats at the African, Caribbean and Pacific Secretariat in Brussels, Belgium and the contents of Dear Upright African formed the basis of his address. Speaking from Johannesburg where he is currently on tour with the book following the win, Molosi says that, “to receive this African Authors Award is an honor I will always deeply cherish. I dedicate this award to the life and legacy of Dr. K. T. Motsete, a Motswana educationist and pan-African who advocated against colonial education in Africa in as early as the 1930’s.
In his time, Dr. Motsete built afrocentric schools in Ghana, Botswana, Malawi and other African countries. He did so in order to offer Africans an alternative to colonial mission schools and to preserve our indigenous African languages. There were schools where, for example, Ikalanga was taught. Presently, the Botswana government has effectively banned Ikalanga from the Botswana classroom. The education revolution that Dr. Motsete and his generation began is the same one that my generation of upright Africans aims to complete.”
The African Authors Awards are held annually in Johannesburg, South Africa and this was the second installation of the ceremony. At the event, held in the Sandton suburb of South Africa, Molosi’s Dear Upright African faced competition from numerous books by African writers living in Africa and in the diaspora. Dear Upright African initially clinched the nomination in April 2019, less than a month after its worldwide release.
According to Molosi, the book also tells stories of his activism in Botswana, such as an incident where Rainbow School of Gaborone decided to ban Afros in 2017, which saw him engaging the Principal to ensure that learners there are allowed to keep their afros. It also includes another incident that followed his TED talk at Maru a Pula School in 2017 also advocating for the inclusion of African history in the African classroom, it caused online outrage from a White teacher at Maru a Pula who found his proposition ‘ungrateful’ and called him abusive.
Following his win, Molosi will officially launch Dear Upright African in South Africa. He will follow that up with a month-long book tour of South Africa for all of August. Since its worldwide release at the beginning of March 2019, Dear Upright African has already been launched in several countries including Tanzania, Zambia, Somaliland and Germany.
According to the co-organizer of the African Author Awards, Anthea Thyssen-Ambursley, Molosi’s work stands out because “Molosi is a leader. Reading his work leaves me speechless and excited. Words fail me. Because of Donald’s work existing, Botswana and South Africa will never be the same. The African future looks bright because he is unlocking minds.” Echoing the sentiments of Thyssen-Ambursley, co-organizer Barbara Strydom profiled Molosi’s works at the award ceremony saying that she first encountered Molosi’s powerful writings when she read his first book We Are All Blue two years ago: “Molosi’s work is important and he wants a better future for Africa’s children. His message is clear – he says the time is now for the African child. He wants us to know our African story so that we can build our continent.”
The Botswana launch of Dear Upright African is scheduled for later in the year. Dear Upright African will also be one of the festival books at Gaborone Book Festival to be held in September 2019. The book is available online and at select bookstores in Botswana. For delivery services upon purchase of the book, readers in Gaborone may contact 73410039 to place an order.