The University of Botswana’s Library Auditorium recently played host to the launch of a new book written by eminent poet, writer and academic, Barolong Seboni.
The book ÔÇô entitled ‘Sechele I: A Historical Play’ ÔÇô dramatises the life of arguably the most highly regarded Chief in the history of one of Botswana’s principal tribes, the Bakwena.
The keynote speaker of the event was the current Kgosi Kgolo ya Bakwena Kgari Sechele III who commended Seboni for recognising the importance of Batswana capturing and promoting their unique culture and history in every possible way as Seboni has done through literature.
In his remarks, Seboni was quick to point out that the process of producing this book was not undertaken by him alone but rather was done as a workshop project in which several younger writers contributed. These young writers, who are all members of the Petlo Literary Arts Trust ÔÇô an organisation of which Seboni is a co-founder ÔÇô are Cheryl Ntumy, Gothataone Moeng, Sharon Tshipa, Sidi Babish, Refilwe Ferguson, Pontsho Kodisa and Baboki Kajawe.
Seboni says the process of producing the book through this workshop method took roughly two years.
Seboni also credited David Magang as having provided the inspiration for the play with the first few chapters of his auto-biography in which he gives a brief history of the Bakwena tribe.
Magang, who was also on hand at the event, wrote the foreword for Seboni’s book.
Writing the book also had a personal significance for Seboni as he is not only a Mokwena himself but also happens to be the descendant of a certain Mmopi who was a close ally of Sechele I. Seboni spoke at length about how he and his contributors grappled with the problem of using English to relate a uniquely Tswana story and how it was very important to them to infuse the work with the riddles, idioms and idiosyncrasies that are characteristic of the Tswana culture and language.
Professor Frank Youngman, a senior lecturer in the Education department, spoke proudly about he has watched Seboni grow from being a student and prot├®g├® of his to become a respected academic and writer in his own right.
Youngman mused about how Seboni enrolled into the University of Botswana Lesotho and Swaziland in 1975, went on to become a lecturer at the University in the 1980s and has now reached the point he describes as the highest possible achievement for one working in the Humanities faculty, producing published works of writing.
The ceremony was a joint book launch that included another published work entitled ‘Indigenous Research Methodologies’ by Professor Bagele Chilisa highlighting the importance of Batswana relying more on indigenous knowledge and not foreign perceptions of the country, especially in academic research work.
Though the two books are very different in approach, it was noted that they are similar in that they both aim to advance the understanding and appreciation of Tswana culture.
Also on hand at the event were the institution’s Director of Research & Development, Professor Isaac Mazonde, and the Deputy Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs and Student Affairs, Professor Amos Thapisa.
‘Sechele I: A Historical Play’ is now available at BooksBotswana bookstore in the University of Botswana and will soon be available in bookstores throughout the country.