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Literature festival honours late founder


Mohalenyane Phakela

THE fourth edition of the annual Ba re e ne re Literature Festival kicked off on Friday at Alliance Française with tributes to the fete’s late founder Liepollo Rantekoa.


Ba re e ne re was founded in 2011 by Liepollo Rantekoa to advance literary arts in Lesotho and connect Basotho writers and artists with those in the region and around the world. After Liepollo tragically passed away in 2012, her friends and family united to carry on her vision.

Director, Lineo Segoete, started off by giving the background to Lesotho’s biggest writers’ festival, whose theme stresses the importance of preserving culture through literature.

Liepollo’s mother, ‘Mantsane Rantekoa, also described the type of person her daughter was and expressed the gratitude of her family.

“It is in the sense of humidity that I stand here on behalf of the Rantekoa family who are humbled to see Liepollo’s dream becoming a reality.

“Emotions make it hard for me to stand before you today as the memories of 25 September 2012 (when Liepollo passed away) are still fresh in our minds,” Ms Rantekoa said, holding back tears.

“Liepollo was passionate about what she wanted and would go an extra length to ensure she achieves her objectives. Her mind was never troubled by hardships as she was a free-spirited person who always wore a smile.”

Rantekoa further told the attendees that Liepollo used to call herself the philosopher of the family and believed in positive thinking, which is evident in the attainment her dream; the Ba re e ne re festival.

Singer, Ceci, and her group gave a sterling performance, incorporating melodic African sounds with those of the guitar and drums, before South African author, Niq Mhlongo, gave the keynote address.

In his speech, Mhlongo called for the cultivation of a new generation of writers and readers in Southern Africa.

“Literature books connect the past with the present and the future, which is something that goes along with the festival’s theme,” Mhlongo said.

“It is all about maintaining the dialogue which already exists between the writer and the reader, thus, enhancing the triumph of the written word. This country has a rich literature heritage, with writers who are able to grasp a subject before it becomes a trend.”

Mhlongo cited Nigerian author, Chinua Achebe, and Basotho classic novelists such as Joel Mohapeloa and Thomas Mofolo whose works are still being read even now.

“My passion to be a writer was greatly influenced by these great authors because they are the people who laid the foundation,” he said.

“They wrote under colonial oppression but that never deterred their passion. Writing has since then become a serious business to me.”

According to festival organisers the recent political disturbances compelled them to cancel the late night open-mic session as they feared for the safety of attendees.

The festival will run until this afternoon with a number of activities such as panel discussions by African writers such as Mhlongo, Yewande Omotoso and Ntone Edjabe lined up.

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