To paraphrase Mark West from UNESCO – There are 774 million people who cannot read and write. 2/3 of illiterate people in the world are women.
SAUTI is led by a team of women who by their own admission love words more than they do chocolate (the more-than-diamonds questionnaire is still making the rounds!). We are passionate about literacy AND about reading for pleasure also about equality so there are a few male consultants with various specialities especially in the traditional forms of poetry and its local accompaniments. We believe strongly in the role Early Childhood Development (ECD) programs can play in shaping tomorrow’s adults into those able to read and understand a contract before they sign it, to read to their children be it from a book or mobile, to engage with the rest of the world in an equitable way. We also love the idea of a world filled with people who read just because they can, who travel through books, who meet and understand other cultures though they may never be able to physically get to those places. We develop readers so they can tell their own story, now or when that moment comes calling for them. There is a not-so-secret agenda to turn readers into writers, at the very least contributors who can engage with and if need be challenge the literature placed before them as history or fact or a representation of their selves.
Living and working as we do from Botswana, in the southern part of Africa, it would be folly to ignore oral literature and performance practices. We should point out that we define literature to include without discrimination, live literature. To mean what is written and read and in equal measure what is spoken and heard.
TJ Dema is a poet, workshop facilitator, occasional editor, voice over artist, speech writer and arts administrator. She is an Honorary Fellow in Writing of the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program as well as former chairperson of the Writers Association of Botswana. In 2013 she was named an Arise Magazine African Changemaker and in 2014 she was granted a Danish International Visiting Artist (DIVA) Fellowship as well as named a St Louis Top 40 under 40 catalyst for her work within and outside literary circles. She recently opened the first of the Goethe Institut’s Literary Crossroads reading and discussion program in Johannesburg.
In 2012 she was Botswana’s representative to the London poetry olympiad Poetry Parnassus. She has read her work internationally in countries including Brazil, Germany, India, Bangladesh, Portugal, Sweden, South Africa, France, UK, USA, Singapore and Zimbabwe. She participated in Lancaster University’s Crossing Borders program and mentored the all female national champions team for the British Council’s Power in the Voice initiative. She facilitates creative writing and performance workshops for youth and has done so for projects including the Washington Youth Slam Team, Berlin Detention Centre, the Danish Red Cross and University of Warwick’s International Gateway for Gifted Youth program.
She is a recording artist, has worked as a presenter on 2 of the leading private radio stations and was founding member of a multi-country concept band, Sonic Slam Chorus. Her chapbook Mandible was published by Slapering Hol Press (USA) in conjunction with the African Poetry Book Fund as part of the Poetry Foundation’s Harriet Monroe Poetry Institute’s Poets in the world series.
She has five years experience as a special events manager – logistics and concepts, coordination of international conferences within the SADC region, training of short term support staff overseeing teams working on concierge, travel, translation and interpretation as well as on site support for meetings of up to 300 people.
Gofa Nfila has three years experience in Logistics Coordination and Event Management. She has extensive knowledge of the specifics of recruiting; managing and training temporary support staff in order to meet the clients’ specific events requirements. She is familiar with planning event logistics, artist liaison and management, budget management and onsite support service skills.
Ms Nfila has worked in a Professional Logistics Coordinator capacity with organizations such as USAID- SAREP, The American Embassy, SADC Water Division, GIZ and BVI.
Ms Nfila has been part of teams that successfully coordinated and managed several conferences and corporate events as follows:
- Logistics Coordinator – Poetry Africa Botswana tour 2012
- Samantha Mogwe- Pretty winter music show
- Facilitated the OKACOM River Cousins Road show in covering the 3 countries of Botswana, Namibia and Angola.
- Handled Logistics for the SAREP Project area Visit covering the three OKACOM countries, for a delegation of 30 inclusive of the United States Ambassador’s to Botswana– Michelle Gavin.
- Facilitated Logistics for the Wildlife Enforcement Network, delegation of 80 from six Southern African countries, Asia and Europe.
- Logistics arrangements for the Seminars on the proposals listing of the Okavango Delta as World Heritage site
She is passionate about performing arts and has as an associate of Sauti A&PM carried forward her corporate skillset to work as artist liaison and management support for various artists.
CONSULTING WRITERS, EDUCATORS, LIBRARY SPECIALISTS, EDITORS etc
Lauri Kubuitsile is a full time writer living in Mahalapye, Botswana. She has written numerous books over many genres for children, teens, and adults which are published both in Southern Africa and abroad. Her short stories have been published around the world in anthologies and magazines. She also writes regularly for South Africa’s FunDza Literacy Trust which makes stories available to young adults on their cellphones.
She has written for both radio and television as well. She co-wrote the first series of Morwalela and the second series of Re Bina Mmogo. She has written many scripts for Educational Broadcasting across a wide array of subjects including: science, math, social studies, and cultural studies.
Lauri has won or been shortlisted for numerous writing prizes. In 2007, she won the Botswana Ministry of Youth, Sport, and Cultures’ Botswerere prize for Creative Writing. In 2008, she won The Bessie Head Literature Prize for Short Story. She won the Pan-African Golden Baobab Prize for children’s literature, twice, in 2009 and 2010, and was shortlisted for the prestigious 2011 Caine Prize for her story In the Spirit of McPhineas Lata. Her humorous teen book, Signed, Hopelessly in Love, was chosen by O Magazine as one of the best books from 2011; the sequel is now available locally from Diamond Educational Publishers titled Signed, The Secret Keeper. Signed, Hopelessly in Love was also shortlisted for South Africa’s Sanlam Prize for Children’s Literature in 2011and the MER Prize in September 2012.
Her books are prescribed reading in schools in Botswana, both at primary and secondary level, and are now also read in South African schools with her humorous book, The Second Worst Thing, and her historical fiction, Curse of the Gold Coins, having been recently CAPS approved for grade 7. Lauri blogs at Thoughts from Botswana (http:/thoughtsfrombotswana.blogspot.com)
Moroka Moreri is a renowned Setswana oral poet who has penned several poetry books such as Motlhaolosa, Tshokele, Khuduela, Mmamowe, Sehutswelo and Thotse. His masterpiece Motlhaolosa was prescribed for junior schools and used in Cambridge examinations.
He holds a Bachelor in Secondary Education (English and Setswana), is undertaking an MA in African languages, has been a teacher and given guest lectures at the University of Botswana. Moreri has worked as a translator and his past projects include translating a mathematics textbook for primary schools. Moreri is also a renowned cultural activist who organises oral poetry festivals and whose poems have been extensively used by musicians on collaborative ventures. He is by far the most nationally sought out poet working in Setswana today, and has recited at funerals, launches, corporate events as well as at various national events including the 2014 presidential inauguration. His solo CD is due out in 2015. He writes a column in Setswana for local print media.
Ntirelang Berman is one of the the youngest yet consistent forces behind Botswana’s professional folklore genre. A multi-instrumentalist and producer he released a BOMU award winning folklore album in 2007. He has performed in Germany, China, Japan and Canada. Berman has shared stage with the likes of, HHP, Molemi, Malaika, Culture Spears, Dikakapa, Budaza, Solly Moholo KTM choir, Lister Boleseng, Tomoya, Stampore, Exodus Live Poetry and many others.
In 2011 he was commissioned together with So Much Soul to create a mix tape called Community Radio for Lapologa magazine. He was also commissioned to create a Phafana ‘traditional brew’ campaign theme song to run across all media by BBL. NT, as he is often known, has staged many solo shows and as a testament to his originality and popularity was a prize winning finalist in the President’s day competitions. He comes on board as a specialist in poetic accompaniment; traditional instruments and song writing.