American filmmaker to empower youth in Botswana

“Whether you wear a bow tie or not has nothing to do with your intellectual rigor or whatever, it’s irrelevant. It’s really about your ideas and what you bring to the table.” These are words by MK Asante, an American bestselling author and award winning fi lmmaker who is on a one week visit to Botswana from 7-14th June. Asante is here by invitation from the Youth Health Organisation (YOHO) to build capacity and engage youth and fi lm producers in Botswana. YOHO Training Coordinator Salim Kegodile explained that the purpose of Asante’s visit is to share his experiences and success with local fi lm makers.


“The workshop is a platform for local fi lm makers to share their challenges and experiences as artists in a struggling industry in Botswana. We want the fi lm makers’ voices to be heard and their work to be seen. Local production companies have selected suitable candidates to be trained by MK and we hope that the workshop will bear fruit.” In addition to writing books and making movies, Asante is also a tenured professor of creative writing and fi lm. The 31-year old creative is currently conducting a two-day training workshop at Maharaja Conference Centre with local fi lm producers, which ends today (Tuesday). Also in his schedule are talks at various secondary schools in Gaborone. Asante’s passion for art has led him to travel across the world giving lectures and spreading the power of art to new generations through a language they understand. He has authored amongst other books, Beautiful & Ugly Too and Like Water Running Off My Back.


His most recent book, It’s Bigger Than Hip Hop is a creative nonfi ction that uses hip hop culture as a vehicle to explore social issues facing the hip hop and post hip hop generations. He has received numerous recognitions and awards including the Langston Hughes award and has directed fi lms like Black Candle which is narrated by Maya Angelou. The fi lm won Best Documentary award at the Africa World Documentary Film Festival. Asante has also directed 500 Years Later and the multi-award winning Motherland. Speaking in an interview with Time Out, he said that he was happy to train fi lmmakers in Botswana and share his experiences with them, adding that , “I am here to share my knowledge as well as to learn. I know what I do may seem like it’s a lot, but it is actually interrelated and connected, so I want the youth to know that if I can, then anybody else can.”


Commenting on his expectations of his visit, Asante said; “I hope people will be open to new ideas. I am also expecting fresh and new energy. I travelled around the world, but deep down I am rooted in Africa because I represent the motherland.” Despite his success, Asante is not slowing down. He says he wants his art to reach as many people as possible, hence having already toured over 30 different countries worldwide.