Art activism takes on Mental Health issues

  • I am an overcomer of Bipolar and Depression- Poet Mmakgosi
  • Statistics on mental health blurred


“Mmakgosi Live,” is a special evening dedicated to the never ending fight for more mental health awareness, using poetry in collaboration with other art forms to drive home the message. Under the theme Afrofuturistic, the evening of spoken word performances will be held on Friday, 7th September at Mantlwaneng Theatre in Gaborone, headlined by poet Mmakgosi Anita Tau alongside Poetess Phopho, Nelima Mimi Koyabe, DJ Kaizer and Prince Tom.
“In 2010, Botswana made great strides with Global Standards of Health progress by opening a psychiatric hospital, yet to this day Batswana are still under educated on Mental Health. Mental Health awareness starts dialogue on change which eventually trickles down to a widespread eradication of stigma on Mental Health patients. Mental Health Illnesses are not people specific, they affect everyone and as such this movement is relevant and necessary,” said the project’s brainchild, Mmakgosi Anita Tau who is famously known as Mmakgosi in creative circles.
Mmakgosi is a transformational speaker and Mental Health Activist who has overcome Bipolar and Depression. She was diagnosed with the medical condition in 2009 and underwent treatment at Sbrana Psychiatric Hospital. “It is now 6 years and I have not relapsed. After my journey at Sbrana, I felt the need to spread the message and use art activism with my poetry to educate people about mental illness. It affects everyone and if you are not educated you can never see the symptoms,” she said, adding that poetry was the suitable medium to use as art paints a long lasting picture in people’s minds.
According to a World Health Organisation (WHO) report, one in four people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives. It continues to state that around 450 million people currently suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill health and disability worldwide. When asked if there were statistics about mental health issues in Botswana’s Mmakgosi said they were blurry.
“When I did my research I found out that most people do not end up at the Psychiatric Hospital. Those who end up going there are usually referrals, so the figures will never be exact,” she explained.