Tuesday, April 1, 2014

My Opening Speech at 17th Time of the Writer

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.

In 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.

The 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. Why?

(Read the rest at our Botswana artists website- Diamond Selektion - here)

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