At the core of Ba re e ne re, our intention is to inspire stories to be shared creatively and passionately across Lesotho. To show our commitment, we ran a student writing competition in the build up to our literature festival in 2014. We got in touch with Peace Corps Lesotho and through Volunteers Matt Merritt, Amy-Morgan Mycoff and Morgan Nees Van Baalen we reached students in the rural and mostly under privileged areas of the country. Entries were powerful, poignant and showed great potential lurking among us.
Unfortunately, we were unable to recognise the five selected winners during the festival due to political uncertainty, but we remained committed to giving recognition to our winning writers. The delay proved a blessing in disguise because in the process of planning a stand-alone event to honour the winning students, we then had a chance to launch our “Freedom of Creative Expression” writing contest online, and oh boy what remarkable talent we found!
With the help of our sponsors Friends of Lesotho and the US Embassy, we expressed our appreciation for the bravery of our contestants by awarding prizes at an intimate ceremony held on Friday 13th February 2015. The event was also meant to incentivise the youth to be more active storytellers and for us to reinforce our dedication to supporting them.
In his address, Mr Daniel Kobayashi of the US Embassy Maseru said literature is essential for the empowerment of youth of Lesotho, quoting C. S Lewis he said: “Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it. It enriches the necessary competencies that daily life requires and provides; and in this respect, it irrigates the deserts that our lives have already become”. His words resonated with our focus at Ba re and appeared to articulate our guests’ sentiments as well.
Overall, we had a beautiful afternoon with exceptional performances from singer Chino El Vito and poet Sekete Lesaoana as well as story readings from our Freedom of Creative Expression story winners. All the winners from both of our contests were awarded e-readers, certificates and of course books. Through the event we showed that it pays to open your mind and write.