The ambitious young writers of the Literary Arts Association of Botswana (LAAB) hosted their first workshop this past Saturday.
Secondary school students from St. Josephs, Naledi and Rainbow descended upon the Library auditorium of the University of Botswana for a day long discussion on literary expression.
The organisation sourced students to attend the workshop by sending letters to teachers at various secondary schools and asking them to identify students who have a genuine interest in literature.
“These were the students that we invited to the workshop,” says the LAAB president, Batsile Seletlo. “We wanted students who are passionate about writing and we targeted secondary school students because we wanted to show them, before they consider what to study in varsity, that a career in writing is a legitimate option.” Not all of the invited students attended the workshop but there was clearly a spark amongst those that were present on the day ÔÇô a spark that the LAAB hopes to use to nurture these youngsters into becoming genuine writers.
Speaking about her presentation on short story writing, published author and one-time winner of the Bessie Head writing competition, Cheryl Ntumy said “I didn’t get a feel of what they thought of my presentation at first. Later on though, during the question and answer session, I realised that they actually have a good grasp of writing and are even talented in their own right.” She’s also a member of the Petlo literary arts trust and this marks the second time the two organisations have collaborated on a workshop. Ntumy feels that it is very important for Petlo and LAAB to cooperate because they have very similar mandates so she hopes that the partnership will last for a long time to come.
One of the highlights of the workshop was a presentation on English poetry by acclaimed local poet, Barolong Seboni, in which he talked about the importance of writers establishing a strong sense of identity before they begin writing. Gauta Eyman, well known for her talent at writing and reciting Setswana poetry, or Poko, as it is known in vernacular, delivered a presentation on producing such material.
LAAB are also planning to host a book festival later this year where they intend to have established writers and publishing companies from Botswana and other parts of Southern Africa. The aims of the festival will be for aspiring novelists and poets to network with publishing companies and to try to learn from the experiences and insight of established writers. They are also working on a poetry anthology called “Verbal ventilations of locomotive minds” that will feature work from some of the students who attended the workshop as well as members of the LAAB. These young literary artists have begun the arduous journey to achieving their goal of elevating literature in Botswana.