I've just returned from the cultural pitso in Tonota. In Botswana, the president has instructed various ministries to hold community meetings called pitso, to find out what Batswana need from their government.
The Cultural Pitso (Pitso ya Ngwao) has been quite vague in the past with anyone who is part of culture (artists, musicians, writers etc) coming together in one meeting to discuss their problems. Each sector has quite diverse needs so such meetings in the past have been too vague to accomplish much.
But this year things are different. The theme for the pitso was: "Go bala ke lesedi- Developing a culture of reading in Botswana". The theme was specific and the participants, on the most part, were focused. The pitso is being held twice this year, once in the north and once in the south to try and get the widest participation.
The one in the north was on the 22nd held in Tonota. I attended and chaired the discussion group on technology and reading. I was very keen on this because I'm currently trying to get cellphone providers in the country to use cellphones to distribute our stories and books. Last week I was asked to go to Gaborone to make a presentation on my idea to one of our cellphone companies BeMobile. They said they'd get back to me. So I was happy to be part of the technology group. (below is the beautiful new library in Tonota where the Pitso was held)
The pitso was put on by three departments: the Department of Arts and Culture, Botswana National Library Services and Botswana National Archives and Records Services. The photo below is a display from the Archives folks. The government publishes a national magazine called Kutlwano, a magazine I used to freelance for when I first started writing. These were old copies from the 1960s and 1970s. They were fantastic! I could have spent the entire day reading them.