Rushing between traffic lights in Gaborone during lunch hour is not an easy thing. However Kenanao Phele managed to go about it and made it on time for our meeting at Sgotti. (Located in the busy government enclave.) We had a working lunch catching up on the upcoming Gaborone Book Festival, (21-22nd September) the 1st of its kind in Botswana.
Ms. Phele is passionate about the Trust that she co-founded with her sister Keikantse Phele. Her enthusiasm lights up the room, it’s clear that she wants to nurture the spirit of reading to the upcoming generation and the community at large. She said reading is an essential life skill needed at any point in one’s life. Furthermore she wants Batswana authors to have a platform to shine and be known for the good work they do. Let’s hear more about the maiden Book Festival in Gaborone.
Wada Kealotswe -What is the Gaborone Book Festival Trust all about?
Kenanao Phele: The trust was formed by the Phele sisters. We found it fit with us to foster the love for reading and nurturing Batswana authors. The trust has four platforms. These are the monthly book line that attracts the general public, the quarterly book line featuring Batswana authors. As well as the School outreach program which encourages reading from an early age. The trust will now also show case an annual Book Festival, featuring Batswana and International authors. So if people miss this year, we are coming again next year.
WK -What purpose do you want this event to serve?
KP: The purpose of the event is to bring together Batswana authors for networking. Also to have a platform to share their talent and ideas together with internationally recognized authors.
Such as Zukiswa Wanner who has a lot to share about her success in the industry. Zukiswa has an internationally recognized publisher. She works hard to market her books all over Africa without relying on other people to do it for her.
There is a limited platform for Batswana authors to show case their work so the book festival will offer that golden opportunity. If you are an aspiring writer, blogger, author and publisher this is a good event for you.
WK – How many people are you expecting and
KP: Maitisong seats about 400 people. We expect Batswana and everyone in the country from different backgrounds, to attend and enjoy with us.
WK – What activities should people expect?
KP: We have activities for everyone in the family from children to adults. We’ll have the opening night on the 1st day which will feature 3 authors.
The main event on the 2nd day will have two sessions. The 1st session from 9am to 11am will be writer’s forum covering the ecosystem of book publishing including marketing and book covers. The 2nd session from 11:30am to 6:00pm is the Book Festival and is for the general public. It will have more activities including; book logs, book chats, discussion panels, book launches and book sales .
There will be a Kiddies Corner, and children will have readings, storytelling and colouring activities.
The festival will feature a program, sponsored by Orange, for a 100 chosen upper primary school going children. The pupils are to be taken through writing, reading skills as well as meeting other young authors. They will also be taught about their heritage, history as well a mental issues affecting them.
WK: Who are the featured authors?
KP: The event will feature 20 authors, 7 will be from other African countries while 13 will be local authors. Our local authors will get to know more about Book publishing. Most of the time they self-publish and end up with low sales hence this will give them a chance to gain knowledge on how to be successful in the industry. Some local authors are still underground but have published books.
WK: Where is the event?
KP: The event will be held at Maitisong, Mantwaneng Theater. It will run for two days at a cost of P260. Tickets can be purchased at www.webtickets.co.bw and can be found in Super Spars. It’s P60 for the opening night and P200 for the main event.
I felt very refreshed speaking to Ms. Phele about the upcoming Gaborone Book Festival. It reminded me of my high school days where carrying a novel around was so prestigious. Students who read novels were taken seriously and respected by both teachers and fellow students. I believe that the Book Festival will bring back that love for reading a book in these days of the internet. If you haven’t bought your ticket yet make sure you grab it. Young people don’t let it pass by!