We were asked to give a 4-5 min speech at the opening of the 17th Time of the Writer on the theme- Freeing our Imaginations, taken from Binyavanga's wonderful videos.
Here is what I said.
For writers a prescribed imagination is death. But sadly, in Africa,
from every corner, there are threats trying to curtail what we can
think, who we can be- and therefore -what we can write. Even the simple
act of saying- I want to be a writer- is smashed down and destroyed. A
writer? Be serious. Go be a doctor, an engineer, a nurse.
Botswana, where we have no programme for writers in the entire country,
the vice chancellor of our only university at the time, was once
presented with a proposal to start a creative writing programme. He
said- what does Botswana need writers for? This is a perfect example of
how the lack of imagination in Africa is killing us. How the
colonisation of our minds is still strong and vibrant- and deadly.
need to conform in every way is very strong in our societies. Those who
step away from the expected path are brave indeed, to fight against
such a wall of resistance takes courage and stamina. But that is exactly
what we most desperately need. Sadly, we clamour to walk the same
disastrous, worn paths of the colonisers. Even when we see where they
are heading, the fateful end, we insist it is where we must go, too.
(Read the rest at our Botswana artists website- Diamond Selektion - here)