MASERU – “Live today and begin to write your story, and make it a beautiful one and live so that even in death, the monument of your name will not easily come asunder”, These were Thato Chobokoane’s opening words at a prize giving ceremony hosted by her World of Words Foundation.
The literary director’s wish is to have authentic Basotho stories written and told from the perspective of the Mosotho writer.
These should be stories written both in literature and told through the ages by word of mouth; stories which will inform the rest of the world about the greatness of African lives told by even greater African writers.
To fulfil her quest, the World of Words Foundation launched the Girl’s Vision Writer’s Platform, not because it is about girls, but because it is about high school boys and girls who are aware of gender inequalities and are willing to work together to forge new social contracts for better co-existence of both genders.
With the help of USAID’s Collaboration Fund Grant offered by the Mandela Washington Fellowship alumni, two women, Thato Chobokoane and Mpho Maema of the Women’s Law Clinic, embarked on the journey to bring on a nationwide writing competition.
The event was hosted at the American Corner on May 4 and followed great anticipation after the flood of inbox messages on the World of Words Foundation Facebook page asking about the announcement of the winners of the competition on the previous theme of April 26, “Her Rights”.
There were 394 candidates all vying for the great prizes that included clothing hampers from Basali All Starts, photoshoot sessions from Star Lethunya Photography and Radical Mind Creations, to radio time on MXXL Space Age Radio and even Maths and Science winter classes from the Maths and Science Academy.
Three independent sponsors; Speak Leadership, Urglobal and the Mungongi Foundation will all be giving three months mentorship to winners.
Mpho Mathaba from Soofia International School was the first prize winner while the National University of Lesotho International School’s Mahloli Makhetha and Mpho Kelello Lerotholi came in as second and third prize winners respectively.
Speaking to the winners, the organisers commended the bravery of all the entrants in delivering “a truth we wish to hide as society, like the scars we tattoo over or sobs of pain we turn up our wirelesses volumes to muffle”.
“The artistry and imaginative thought really came through, as did the vivid scenes you managed to draw to give us a glimpse into your reality,” they added.
In the writer’s platform’s first year, what became obvious is that peer pressure of alcohol and drug abuse are prevalent among our youth and in our schools with issues of abuse; domestic violence of corporal punishment in the home made obvious in the stories entered.
Also sad, is how it became obvious that sexual violence is grossly under-reported and yet witnessed and experienced by children daily.
2019 was the first year of this writing competition.
The World of Words Foundation wishes to unlock authentic African stories.
Speaking at the event Princess Sekhothali Seeiso dissected what female genital mutilation is about and how it affects the woman; all its domino effects and how societies crumble through a lack of education and oppression of a vital human resource – the woman.
These are real stories of young girls across Africa and in Lesotho who are married off to men at times three times their age for sheep or goats.
But pain and suffering is not our mark, for it exists in all societies developed and undeveloped.
Lerato Masiea, a literature lecturer at the National University of Lesotho (NUL) graced the prize giving ceremony to talk about the relevance of literature in Lesotho with Set’sabi Set’sabi, also a lecturer at NUL, speaking about how literature has developed and transitioned through the centuries.