Yewande Omotoso speaks

Literature festival. Our flagship programme is the annual Ba re e ne re Literature Festival. This is a multi-day event that brings together hundreds of people from a variety of backgrounds and ages including writers, editors, publishers, poets, students, artists and educators to engage through literary arts and diverse modes of storytelling. Activities include: poetry performances, story readings panel discussions, townhall-style conversations, bookmaking activities for children, annual keynotes and practice-oriented writing workshops. See the video from our 2016 festival here!

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Arts education research. Ba re e ne re is part of Another Roadmap for Arts Education. This is a community of Arts organisations and researchers from around the world who collaborate on creative projects and conduct research with the aim of making arts education more inclusive and locally-oriented rather than replicating foreign frameworks and practices. Ba re e ne re’s research is focused on deconstructing and decolonising Arts education in Lesotho and Southern Africa. We’ve also hosted a workshop for our international peers in Maseru.

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Ba re Dictionary. To get young Basotho excited about their language, Sesotho, Ba re e ne re demonstrates the descriptive power and innovative growth of Sesotho by instituting the BA RE Dictionary Project. This project introduces and catalogs new Sesotho words with definitions and example sentences. Our audience is encouraged to share their own creative sentences with these new words and suggest their own words. The words are often influenced by slang, afro-futurism, new technology and complex emotions. We’ve also implemented a workshop series where participants collectively create new works and then design their own dictionary pages for them.

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Book Publishing. To create a new outlet for creative writing in Lesotho, we published a short story collection in 2016 called “Likheleke tsa puo”. Meaning “wordsmiths” in Sesotho, this book contains 23 original stories that have never been published before. They are written in both English and Lesotho’s own Sesotho to allow writers to express themselves how they are most comfortable.

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Writing competitions. Ba re e ne re engages Basotho students and writers through writing competitions hosted in schools and online. In the competitions Basotho are encouraged to think creatively about a topic and respond with a piece of original writing. Winners of the competitions are awarded prizes and honoured through public events. Student writing competitions have been facilitated with the support of Peace Corps. Entries to online writing competitions are also published periodically on our website.
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Spelling Bee. 2015 was the first year Ba re e ne re engaged in a national student spelling bee. Students at schools across the country competed to spell both English and Sesotho words at the school level and the highest performers then traveled to Maseru for the National Spelling Bee. This project was facilitated in schools with the support of Peace Corps. See photos from the event here!

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