Friday, July 12, 2024

WABO celebrates 30 years, launches Mahube

The Writers Association of Botswana (WABO) celebrated their thirty years in existence with a launch of a new edition of Mahube, their literary journal, at the Alliance Francais late last week.

Plotting the future of the organisation poet, columnist and current chairperson of WABO, Miss T J Dema said at the launch that WABO intends to grow into a national literary organisation that assists Botswana writers with resources, information and grants.

Dema said that WABO is currently in the process of trying to secure an office for the organisation, saying that an office would allow for better interaction between writers and the WABO executive committee.

She said an office would also allow them to cut down on administration costs and give them an opportunity to provide a general information facility for writers.

Dema also expressed disappointment at the seeming hesitance and reluctance of writers in indigenous languages to submit their work when publishing opportunities, such as with this edition of Mahube.

She said that of all the submissions they received for this edition of Mahube, only one was in Setswana, which unfortunately was not up to their strict standards, and thus all the work in the journal is in English.

Dema also revealed that, among other activities they are involved in, WABO is currently working on writing its history.

The organisation, founded in 1980, has sometimes gone for years with no activities due to lack of funds.

Former chairperson of the organisation and lecturer in the English Department at the University of Botswana, Barolong Seboni, who is also one of the founding members of WABO, emphasised the importance for Botswana writers to know the history of WABO and Botswana’s literary tradition.

“Writers think they write in isolation, but they don’t really. They are writing in the historical context and are informed by the words that came before them,” Seboni said, adding that what led to the foundation of WABO was their graduation, two years earlier, from the University of BOLESWA and that some of the founding members were South African professors and writers in exile from the South African apartheid regime.

He said WABO back then had regular readings, and weekly gatherings. He acknowledged the work and commitment of members such as Seatlholo Tumedi, now a University of Botswana lecturer, as well as the enthusiasm of late radio presenter Godiramang Makhaya and Barclays Bank Communications Manager, Mike Klink, both of whom took WABO to radio with the program Writers’ Corner.

Long time member and WABO archivist, Bobana Badisang said she is often disappointed by the general public’s ignorance of Botswana writing, thus she reiterated the importance of writers’ organisations such as WABO, and the need for WABO to collaborate with other organisations that have similar mandates.

“For Botswana writing to mutate into global writing, writers need to be organised. Organised writers get things done,” she said.

After all the speeches, attendants were treated to readings from some of the contributors.

Professor David Kerr, lecturer at University of Botswana, read from his short story, Yoga, Sundiata and The Captain, while English lecturer at the Molepolole College of Education and past runner-up at the Bessie Head Literary Prize in the novel category, Mr Wazha Lopang, read from his story, As long as It Doesn’t Spoil my Appetite.

Poets, including UB graduate Phenyo Faith Otukile and Bobonong-born accountant Nicholas Keitshokile, and celebrated poets Bobana Badisang and Tiro Sebina also read their poems.

Mahube is sold at P50 per copy and information about where it will be available will be posted on the WABO blog and Facebook page. Members can buy the book at P25, the annual membership fee is P100.

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