Soldier writer, publisher bag awards in Botswana



MASERU – Two of the three Basotho literary megastars nominated for the inaugural annual Mulher Forte African Literature Awards held in Botswana this week were crowned winners in their respective categories.

The three local nominees were authors Bothata Kennedy Silase and Lineo Matlakala while Thakane Rethabile Shale competed in the publishing category. Recognised for their individual literary work in the Best Novelist and Best Publisher categories were Silase and Shale respectively.

Silase’s thrilling novel ‘The Recoil’ was up and won against Zambian writer, Ingrid Nayame’s ‘Cupid Arrow’ and his compatriot Matlakala’s ‘Tales of a Barren Woman.’ In the publishing category Shale was declared winner for her work on Matlakala’s ‘Tales of a barren woman’ beating South African Sam Nkogatse for publishing ‘The black man in the white people’s yard.’

The race to the grand finale begun with nominations from Lesotho, Malawi, Botswana, Egypt, Uganda, and across the African continent in different categories that also included novelists, orators, contemporary traditional music, live poetry performances and illustrators.

The host company, Mulher Forte African Literature Awards PTY Ltd, is a Botswana literature company that deals with literary translating, consulting and publishing; they will also be holding literature workshop.

The company’s main aim is to recognize the craft of the authors and give them support; we also shall have special categories such as Legendary Award and Reader of the year Award which was earmarked for an African who has books in diverse literature in more than 20 African literatures, Paula Otukile, the host company’s Project Manager and Coordinator told Life&Style ahead of the awards ceremony which was held virtually.

Otukile is also an author, international translator and polyglot from Mahalapye in Botswana. ‘Tales of a barren woman’ speaks volumes about the sufferings women face in Africa as a result of infertility.

Matlakala, born in Hlotse, Leribe, is a lecturer and director at the Agri-tech Institute of Lesotho.

‘Tales of a barren woman’ traverses personal journeys of three women struggling with fertility, which are put in graphic detail. It highlights the unfruitful struggles; medical, cultural and religious approaches and the mental effects of these misfortunes.

They share their stories through a character, Lirolelo, who faces pressure from her in-laws, colleagues and has to survive society’s expectations.

‘The recoil’ is the work of a Lesotho Defence Force soldier stationed at the Mejamatalana Air Wing, Silase; a single parent to a six year old boy and a four year old girl.

His book traces the life of Masilo Mokoena, one of the best intellectuals in Lesotho. After completion of his Cambridge Overseas School Certificate he enrolled at the National University of Lesotho to attain his Bachelors’ Degree.

Unfortunately, he succumbed to peer pressure, failed the first year of his BSc Computer Science course and ended up committing a series of crimes.

He decided to join the Lesotho Defence Force when he lost his funding to attend university, and he passed the vetting process of the army as his malicious deeds had not yet come to light.

The army was impressed by his meritorious service and he was subsequently sent to India to attend a cadet course. Upon his return from India, he was promoted from the rank of Private to that of Second Lieutenant.

An investigation carried out subsequently revealed his previous crimes and impacted significantly on his life.

Shale, nominated for her exclusive work in publishing. Frustrated by mainstream media, Shale decided to launch a publishing company that publishes stories readers need to hear.

She grew up in Tšifa-li-Mali, Leribe, and is also writer while publishing; she is a lawyer by profession and works in construction management – she is passionate about telling stories though.

Winners in other categories:

  1. Best poetry author: Richard Mbuthia – Kenya
  2. Best poetry performer: Thami Magongo – eSwatini
  3. Best reader: Kenny Mobita – Zambia
  4. Legendary award: EB Maphumulo – SA, Chirikure Chirikure -Zimbabwe
  5. Book club of the year: Preston Mwiinga – Zambia
  6. Romancista: Julio Njinga Mateus – Angola
  7. Best orator: Boitumelo Molefane – Botswana
  8. Best illustrator: Ikuesani Daniel – Angola
  9. Best traditional music danger/singer: Gaone Dirirafalo – Botswana
  10. Best children book author: Onoura Nsweku – Nigeria
  11. Best short story author: G Ogbuabo – Nigeria
  12. Best folklore author – Malesela Makwesa – SA

Mulher Forte African Literature’s bigger intention is to grow literature by uniting African writers and performers gaining one voice through collaboration, which is what informed the concept behind the awards, Otukile told Life&Style.






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