The Dalai Lama is famous for many things one of which is the statement, ‘If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.’ Its always the individual who will change the world with the help of others. In Kenya we all love Muthoni Garland who has stayed the course to ensure that the Storymoja Festival has become one of the leading festivals in the continent in less than a decade. In Nigeria it is Lola Shoneyin doing the work with the Ake Festival.
Muthoni Garland and Lola Shoneyin are not the only one who started the journey of bringing a world class festival to their country. In Lesotho, that country within South Africa’s borders, a young woman called Liepollo Rantekoa also had a vision for a literary festival in her native land. She launched Ba re e ne re in 2011 as a literary arts organisation to promote Basotho storytelling and the cultures of reading and writing in Lesotho. Ba re e ne re means “They say it happened that…” The event happened with some success but unfortunately Liepollo’s passed away in 2012. Her friends and family came together to carry on the important work she began.
This year’s event the fourth in the series happened earlier in September when all the news from Lesotho was about a coup that was happening or not happening. The events on 5th to 7th September included discussions between local and international authors, workshops on creative writing and publishing your work, book readings and creative performances, school writing competition awards presentation, children’s activities including bookmaking a poetry night and open mic as well as exhibitions by local artists.
One of the artists at the event was novelist Yewande Omotoso who is an Etisalat Prize shortlistee and the author of Modjaji books published Bom Boy (read my review here). Also talking part was Namibian poet Keamogetsi Molapong who has been writing poetry since 1990, and was instrumental in establishing the Windhoek-based poetry groups Ama Poets and Kitso Poets. He has produced and contributed to numerous poetry collections including We Opened the Door and Saw Ourselves (1998) and Talk Your Heart (2005). Also taking part via skype was South Africa’s Zakes Mda one of the most prolific writers on the planet.
The keynote lecture was given by South African author Niq Mhlongo (read my review of Way Back Home here)on September 5th at the Alliance Française de Maseru where he spoke about supporting a new generation of readers and writers.
We salute the work started by Liepollo Rantekoa and the work to continue the legacy of the work she started in 2011.
All photos in this blog come courtesy of the good people at the Ba re e ne re literary Festival and were taken by Mery Hyoky.