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Among many exciting festivities set for the upcoming Gaborone Book festival (GBF19) that is slated for 19 to 21 September, Botswana women’s first anthology will be launched on the first day of the festival at Maitisong. Titled “Botswana Women Write” and edited by Professor Maitseo M. M. Bolaane, Dr Mary S. Lederer, Dr Leloba Molema and Professor Connie Rapoo, this new publication is bringing another descriptor to life among Batswana women writers. UKZN Press, which the anthology is published under, is committed to challenging existing stereotypes and addressing the ever-present sex and gender imbalance in authorship.

With contributions from more than 60 women, this book covers creative writing, traditional songs and poetry, drama, letters and memoirs, interviews, court statements, journalism and other non-fiction. Since a “typical woman” cannot be singularly pinned down, this anthology is necessarily wide-ranging. It is the first such Botswana anthology. It establishes for the first time some record of what Batswana women think and how they live while simultaneously reflecting issues women face, not only in Botswana but globally: domestic abuse, poverty and single motherhood, to name a few. However, it also reflects sexual freedom and pleasure, intellectual engagement, expressions of joy, playfulness and assertion of a political presence.

This ground-breaking book brings together women from all walks of life whose names you will recognise – Bessie Head, Unity Dow, Lauri Kubuitsile and Tjawangwa Dema. There are also names you will hear for the first time and names of women who probably never expected to find their words reproduced in print until now.

Mary Lederer, one of the editors said: “We have intervened as little as possible in the texts themselves, only including cultural or political references where necessary. Some of the texts are probably not normally considered literature, but they are nonetheless important because of what they reveal about Batswana women’s lives. There are stories, poems and plays, but there are also, for example, transcriptions of court testimonies.”

Furthermore, the GBF19 will conduct a writer’s workshop on writing in indigenous languages on the 21 September and a sharing session by established authors. From Botswana, confirmed authors and guests are TJ Dema, Brilliant Kodie, Rachel Nekati, Donald Molosi, Bonty Botumile, Sam Chapi, Onica Lenkutlwane, Bakang Baloi, Lauri Kubuitsile, Nelson Letswene and Abigail Mwikisa among others. The guest authors from across the continent are Prof. Pumla Dineo Qqola, Nanjala Nyobola, Odafe Atogun, Lerato Mogoatlhe, Rosie Motene, PJ Mofokeng and Siya Khumalo.

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