LERIBE – The second edition of the annual Mulher Forte African Literature Awards has put Lesotho on the spotlight again, with poet, author and performer, Sekhola Teboho Letsatsi, the country’s sole representative competing. The host company, Mulher Forte African Literature Awards PTY Ltd, is a Botswana company that deals with literary translating, consulting and publishing; the company’s main aim is to recognize the craft of the authors and give them support.
Sekhola will be representing Lesotho in the category of Best Poetry Performer, optimistic of continental recognition as he is currently working on his poetry compilation ‘Likeleli tsaka’. Better known as Teboho oa Seroki, Sekhola hails from Hleoheng in the Leribe district. Sekhola, who just landed in the country from a visit to Botswana and South Africa following the release of his poem ‘Africa is not a test lab’, is in the semifinals stage of the Mulher Forte African Literature Awards alongside some of Africa’s best poetry performers.
Genres to be competed on are in three categories, with Category A consisting of poetry books, short stories, children’s books, novels and folklore books; Category B consists of Orators, Poetry, Folklore or Fables and Music (traditional and contemporary) while the third category comprises publishers (traditional and self-publishing houses) and illustrators.
Speaking to Life&Style this week, the founding member of Mulher Forte, Paula Otukile, said preparations for the grand finale are going well as they have managed to secure sponsors for free publishing for the winners.
Otukile said “We have not secured the monetary support yet but we remain hopeful, the beautiful part is we have a wider support now and more literature companies are partnering across Africa and the media is doing wonders on its part.”
Together with his friends Teboho oa Seroki hosted what they themed called ‘Poetry Clashes’ twice in Peka; he has also performed at the Leribe Arts and Cultural Festival as well as at the Ficksburg Stadium and at Mapenyadira – still in Ficksburg. He made an appearance for the PMR Frequency Celebration. He will be doing an award give away on the October 27 at the Victoria Hotel in Maseru. On October 30 he will be performing at the National Convention Center for the Halloween Fashion Show.
In 2019 Sekhola was awarded the second price in the Bloemfontein Annual Poetry Festival that ran from January to February of that year; the same year he was invited to Botswana for the then called Botswana Annual Poetry Festival – now called the Mulher Forte African Literature Awards.
“To be selected for the awards to me is such a huge act, it says I should continue doing more into my art because being recognized internationally is every poet’s dream so I am thankful because all my sacrifices and hard work are in the process of paying me back,” Sekhola mentioned. He further went on to say his own country does not support art and many talents end up ruined or artists choose to leave the country as the government fails to invest in the youth through art, adding that literature in Lesotho is still at an emerging stage.
The Mulher Forte African Literature Awards grand finale will be held on the January 3, 2022, and the celebration remains entirely dependent upon the state of emergency for the Covid-19 pandemic in Botswana. Entries for this second edition of the annual Mulher Forte African Literature Awards closed on July 31. The awards are meant to give literature contributors recognition not any form of enrichment, according to Otukile.