Sunday, November 9, 2008

News from Sunday Standard

Anybody who lived in Botswana in the ‘80’s and ‘90’s knows the book Love on the Rocks by Andrew Sesenyi. It was a Romeo and Juliet story of love between two characters from different classes; Moradi, the wealthy young city woman, and her poor village boyfriend, Pule Nkgogang. The book was published by Macmillan as part of its Pacesetters Series. It was a set book in schools in Botswana for many years and, according to the MC at last weekend’s launch of Charmiane Muirs’ short story collection Tapestry, where Andrew Sesinyi was a speaker, it was also a set book in schools in other countries around the continent. Exciting news in what is fast becoming my favourite Sunday paper, Botswana’s Sunday Standard, is that Love on the Rocks will soon be a movie!

It has apparently been bought by Flame Power Multimedia a local production company. They have roped in a South African scriptwriter, Marina Bekker, to write the script, keeping Mr. Sesinyi on as a consultant. According to Thuso Oitsile the CEO for Flame Power Multimedia, they have an estimated budget of P20 million and are busy fundraising. It appears Botswana Tourism may be one of the funders having made a precedent with the Mma Ramotswe film.

The other very exciting thing in today’s Sunday Standard is a new column on all things creative by Tiro Sebina, University of Botswana English Academic, well known poet, and someone who is always exceptionally supportive of Batswana writers, and this Motswana writer in particular. It is not clear, but it appears to be entitled ‘Culture of the Ordinary’. He defines the column as being “part of a bigger narrative” about the daily struggle for survival and the writer’s obligation to ensure “that the future is more congenial”. He believes that “the struggle for a better tomorrow is also a cultural struggle”.

Mr. Sebina says, “In these hard times of moral degeneration, our communities need plenty of technicians of the heart and engineers of compassion. As a society we need more not fewer writers.” (Yeah Tiro!!)

He promises to devote part of each column to advice for creative writers.

In what I believe is the first instalment of the column, he speaks about characterisation and how to get to know your characters. His advice? “Learn to live with them. If you let them they may guide you to shape better stories. Care about your characters, even those characters who abuse and hurt others need to be loved enough to be understood.”

I look forward to Mr. Sebina’s future column and applaud Sunday Standard for providing space for this type of literary advice.


Anonymous said...

Love on the Rocks was one of my favourite Pacesetters book. However, in Nigeria, pacesetters books were not part of the national curriculum (there might have been outrage if they were). But in my secondary school we had an hour a week of what was called "library study" as part of the weekly timetable and students could choose whatever book they liked from the library to read. The first book I ever chose in the course was a pacesetters. Bring back the pacesetters series I say. As a kid (between 8 and 13), they kept me occupied and I could readily identify with the characters who were predominantly African.

Lauri said...

You'd be shocked Ayo, the books that are chosen as set books here. As writers with no popular book buying market, we are desperate to get our books taken, but as a former teacher I look at some of the books and wonder if they are an appropriate vehicle to teach literature.

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