Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Two Very Nice Things

I got news that the One World anthology of which my story, The Rich People's School, is a part, is selling quite well. All proceeds go to Doctors Without Borders and a royalty cheque is ready to be turned over as I write this. I'm quite excited about this as the book came together when a group of writers met online and we did everything from beginning to end and then handed it over to the publisher. I was very proud to be part of the project and am happy it is doing so well. Read more about the One World process here and here.

I was also happy to have my story mentioned in this review of the book.

The Bed Book of Short Stories is now out. I haven't got my copies yet as I asked the publisher not to send as I would collect them in Cape Town but everybody who has seen it is quite excited. I was the compiler and have a story inside so have a real interest in it doing well. The ebook can be purchased here. Can buy books here or you can contact the publisher about getting copies at

There is a review of the book at LitNet. Here's an excerpt:

There are so many more stories in this collection of thirty which deserve mention, but it’s impossible to pay tribute to them all. Suffice to say that this is a Quality Street box of stories: each entirely different from the one before and each completely delicious in its own right. Do yourself a favour and spoil yourself with this delightful collection. Take a copy, well, to bed. It’s obviously the only place to savour The Bed Book of Stories.

Yeah for Modjaji Books! Yeah for the Rain Queen!
Support small independent publishers and buy the book. Please!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Bessie Head Literature Awards 2010

Saturday 26th June was the fourth Bessie Head Literature Awards held at the National Museum in Gaborone. Professor F. Mnthali from the University of Botswana English Department was the keynote speaker and read one of his favourite Bessie Head short stories, The Old Woman, from her collection Tales of Tenderness and Power.

Then there was the awarding of prizes and readings by the winners.

Winner: Mr. Legodile Seganabeng, "The Moon Has Eyes"
First runner-up: Ms. Atang Mogome, "The Evil Messenger of God"
Second runner-up: Ms. Jelena Ivancevic, "The Rise and the Fall in All of Us"

Winner: Ms. Tshetsana Senau, Travelling to the Sun: The Diary of Ruth
First runner-up: Mr. Patrick Melusi Mtunzie, The Calabash of Life in the Diaspora
Second runner-up: Mr. Wazha Lopang, If Mother Only Knew

(There's no photo for Jenny Robson as she was ill and couldn't attend. I read her story for her but we've seen enough photos of me)

Winner: Ms. Jenny Robson, "The Right Time"
First runner-up: Mrs. Reshoketjoe Lilford, "The Christmas Dress"
Second runner-up: Ms. Dabilo Malebogo Mokobi, "Grampi"

Above is a photo of one of the Bessie Head Trust members, Dr. Leloba Molema, from the University of Botswana, and Thulaganyo Jankey, sales and marketing manager of Pentagon Publishers, the sponsors of the Bessie Head awards for the past four years. He was launching the books produced form last year's awards.

Two of the highlights of the event was the open mic and the listening of a radio interview of Bessie Head. The interview was quite a surprise for me. I'd never heard Bessie Head's voice before. She was soft spoke but confidant and very intelligent, political and well read. It was lovely to listen to I wish we could have heard the entire interview.

For the first time the room for the event was overflowing with people. When open mic time rolled around there were plenty of people ready to read their work. The headmistress from Diratsame Junior Secondary School brought a few of her students from their writing club and one read her poem. Another secondary school student, Kolobetso Selemena (in the photo below), from Ledumadumane Junior Secondary School, also recited two poems. It was very exciting seeing such young people so enthusiastic about writing.

The Bessie Head Trust and Pentagon Publishers should be very proud of the way that this award has grown. It is now the only literary award in Botswana and it is finally getting the recognition that it deserves and serving the memory of Botswana's most famous writer with honour.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

My 100th Follower!!

I just noticed now that while I was away to Gaborone being re-fueled with literary energy at the Bessie Head Awards, my blog followers quietly slipped to 100. That seems an achievement of some sort and I thought it should be duly noted.
And now I have.
Thank you dear readers!!!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Office Progress

Here are photos from yesterday. These guys are cruising. I bet by next week it's roofed and then it's electricity and windows and Bob's your uncle!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Our World Cup Trip- Ghana vs Australia

We're back from Rustenburg and the fantastic World Cup game, Ghana vs Australia. We had a great time. That's Mr. K. and me at the game.

And here are our tickets.

Here are some of the fans at the game. It was like one big party. Everything was very well organised and people were great. I never once in the whole time I was in South Africa felt unsafe, despite all of the hype before the games. The organisation was very good. The only small problem was the Park and Ride after the game. The buses were late to pick us up for Phokeng North (where we had to park our cars) but when we got to the parking lot I thought maybe it was purposeful so that they people didn't have to queue forever in their cars.

This is Mr. K. and Zakumi with our car duly dressed in the Ghana flag for the game. Friday night we had dinner with one of my Facebook friends, Fiona Zerbst, who lives in Rustenburg. She is a freelance writer and a well known poet. She gave me Zakumi as a present.

We camped at Pilanesburg National Park and took two great game drives, Saturday morning and Sunday morning. We saw all sorts of animals including my favourites- giraffe and warthogs. We also saw elephants, rhinos and hippos and some very lovely turtles.

And below is my office in the process. This photo was taken this morning. I'm getting very excited about having my own room for writing. (!!!!!)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


My blogging as well as my writing has been pushed to the back seat. I am busy trying to sort out children and build myself an office. On Friday I am off to Rustenburg South Africa to sleep in a tent (Eish! in this coldness!?!) and attend the World Cup match between Ghana and Australia.

So please take pity on me. Next week I hope to be back to work and blogging.
Wish me luck.... and Ghana too! (Sorry all my Aussie friends, I need to be an African for this game)

In the meanwhile here is the second review I've seen for Kwaito Love in our national daily private paper, Mmegi.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Columns that Went Missing- It's All Write

While I was away in Egypt the website for The Voice newspaper was down being re-vamped so I couldn't link my It's All Write columns, but now all is up and running so it's time to do a little catch-up.

May 7th
Words are the key whether it's short story, rap, poetry or novels. Botswana poet Andreattah Chuma is making links.

May 14th
Why attend Writers' Residencies? My insights on the matter.

May 22nd
Our poet of power, TJ Dema attended the Harare International Festival of the Arts. Read more about it.

May 28th
What's the difference between memoir and autobiography? I spoke with memoirist and fellow El Gouna resident Elmaz Abinader.

June 4th
Learning how to accept rejection.

Now we're caught up. Look for this year's winners of the Bessie Head Literature awards in upcoming columns.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Support Molara Wood

At the beginning of June I saw a post on Facebook from my friend Jude Dibia. It was about an anthology of African short stories that was now chosen as a selection for Oprah's Book Club. I was happy that African writers were being acknowledged yet again and that some of my friends had stories in the anthology including Jude, Chika Unigwe and Molara Wood; all of us friends since our time putting together the One World anthology.

No sooner had Jude posted on Facebook then Books SA uncovered the scam. Mfonobong Nsehe, self described "Publishing executive. Media Visionary. Dreamer. Drummer. Global citizen" seemed to have forgotten one very important bit about publishing- getting the writer's permission.

After the house of cards collapsed, Nsehe attempted to right his wrong by sending out letters now, after the fact, asking for permission to use the writers' stories. Already he proved himself to be a liar since the whole Oprah scam was little more than a figment of his fertile imagination. Which writer of sense would want to be associated with such a shady project?

Molara Wood posted his letter and her response on her blog and instead of apologising profusely as he should have, Nsehe and either himself under other names or some of his misguided colleagues have started a hateful campaign against Molara including this blog: Molara Wood is Dumb. More on this campaign can be seen at Book SA. She has been personally attacked including death threats.

I've known Molara Wood for some time. She is a writer of conscience who has dedicated her blog and much of her professional life to the support of African and Nigerian writers and artists of all sorts. She is taking a brave stance on behalf of all of us both on the continent and off. She needs our support.

Please stop by her blog and leave a message to let her know that she is doing the right thing and we will not allow plagiarisers and thieves without conscience to treat her in such a despicable manner.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Home Sweet Home

I got back home Tuesday afternoon. My last day in Egypt was spent in Cairo. I arrived from Hurghada at 11:30 am and was not leaving until midnight. Lucky for me two of the writers from the residency, Seni and Elmaz, were still in Cairo so we met at the Egyptian Museum along with Elmaz's husband, Anthony, who had arrived from America.

The Egyptian Museum has an astounding number of artifacts including the Tutankhamun exhibit, which was fabulous. It also has the mummy room. You must pay an extra 100 Egyptian pounds to enter but it's worth it. It's unbelievable. One of the mummies was Hatshepsut's and another her step son Thutmose III.

After this we went to an incredible restaurant walking distance from the Museum where we met up with Elmaz's friend, Dalia, who I think may be the best tour guide in the universe. She took us to a mosque in Old Cairo and had organised before hand to get permission for us to climb to the top of the minaret.

The climb was up a thin winding staircase, sometimes in the pitch black. We stopped twice along the way to take in the view but at the top on a thin ledge with a rickety wooden railing we stood at the top of Cairo. Looking down we saw goats on roof tops, the thin lanes of shops, the hooter-mad traffic down below. It was incredible but only the beginning.

From there the infallible Dalia took us through the winding streets below to three different mosques each more magnificent than its predecessor. The sun set and by chance she met a friend who had access to a series of houses that had been turned into a cultural centre. I wished I hadn't packed my camera in my checked in luggage. I'd never seen such captivating rooms, never imagined anything like them. Some open courtyards with only the sky as a ceiling. Some with intricately carved ceilings with inlaid tiles of marble. Some with domes cut straight through to sky in the shapes of stars and half moons. Balconies looking down on the courtyard below. Rooms where shadow puppet shows are held. Through every door was another bit of magic.

A quick drink and I was on a taxi and soon sitting on a plane for an 8 hour flight to Joburg and the whole way my mind buzzed with all I'd seen.

What my trip to Egypt truly meant to me is yet to be seen. It was wonderful in so many ways, ways that have changed me, opened my mind and my spirit to so many new thoughts and sights.

And now I am home to the people I love most and that is quite magical too.