- Festival brought a healthy diversity of authors with different but pertinent issues and topics
Book lovers of all ages were spoilt for choice at the just ended virtual edition of the Gaborone Book Festival (GBF). For three days (16-18 September) this year’s festival transformed into a literary lover’s dream with its star-studded lineup of the finest writers, poets and opinion formers from different fields and genres to celebrate the joy of the written word.
GBF, which is the only festival of its kind in Botswana, featured both Batswana and other African authors. “In our lineup we had a diversity of authors across different issues and topics – from travel and GBV to children’s books,” said GBF Co-Founder and Co-Curator, Keikantse Phele, during the festival. “We stand to promote and create awareness on the availability of African literature.
“We believe that everyone had a take home and something to learn. We are striving for continuity for the festival even during these uncertain times. GBF’s main objective is to encourage people of all ages to read for pleasure, with a keen focus on promoting engagement with the literary works of authors from Botswana, as well as other authors and storytellers across the African continent and in the Diaspora.”
This year’s book chats, conversations and launches had a sharp focus on children’s literature by African authors, gender-based violence, how the COVID-19 pandemic changed the world instantly, heritage, and travel and culture. Miss South Africa 2020, Shudufhadzo Musida, kick-started the festival conversations with her book titled “Shudu Finds Her Magic” that focuses on her experiences of being bullied as a child.
The pageantry queen is devoted to advocating for mental health awareness and the educational and economic empowerment of women and children. Speaking about the inspiration behind her book, Musida said: “When we have important conversations in our society, we often leave children out and we don’t give them a seat at the table for them to engage.
“I realised that in order to de-stigmatise mental health, we needed to start with children. In this book I wanted to introduce mental health to children in a way that they could understand, hence we worked with a child psychologist to make sure that the book is child-friendly.”
The book festival also featured Professor of Linguistics and Lexicography, who is a leading voice in the development and preservation of the Setswana Language, Thapelo Otlogetswe, with his new book titled “Diane, Maele, Mafoko, le Dithamalakane.” Kenya-based writer and researcher Nanjala Nyabola highlighted issues of immigration, migration and race in her book, “Travelling While Black,” while businesswoman and editor Mabu Nteta shared personal accounts of living through the pandemic with her book, “Pandemic Diaries,” that she penned with other women.
Trained chef and author, Nompumelelo Mqwebu, shared the beauty of African flavours with her book, “Through the Eyes of an African Chef.” There was a book chat with Tshepo Moyo’s “Becoming,” while Botho Lejowa’s second novel, “Meetings with Death,” published in 2021, was also on offer. Authors Oladele Olafuyi and Lorato Trok shared their passion about writing and publishing children’s books.
Solo traveller Boipelo Tladinyane-Hlubi shared accounts of her travels to 54 African countries mainly for cultural experiences in her book, “A Safari Back To South, Backpacking 54 Countries in Africa.” Of Ghanaian/German heritage and raised in Lesotho, author Kojo Baffoe spoke on the subject of fatherhood with his book, “Listening to Your Footsteps.”
Said Phele: “We would like to thank our authors for saying yes to our vision. You continue to bring books that are relevant and speak to important issues that are pertinent. We would also like to thank our partner, the Institute of Development Management (IDM), for their continued support and would like more partners to hop on board to support this festival.”