My Botswana Storytelling Project
In the My Botswana Storytelling Project, Poetavango and the U.S. Embassy worked with a small group of twenty (20) learners from secondary schools in Maun, fifteen (15) from primary schools in Ghanzi and fifteen (15) from secondary schools in Gaborone. The project was divided into three parts called Operation Pen and Paper (Maun), Operation Voice and Microphone (Ghanzi) and Literary TechShop (Gaborone). The Maun project provided learners with skills of telling stories through the potent art of creative writing while in Ghanzi, participants embraced the traditional forms of storytelling – the oral methods. The Gaborone TechShop introduced information technology to young writers.
All three were structured such that they don’t interfere with the students’ daily academic schedule.
Operation Pen and Paper – MAUN
Through the Ministry of Basic Education’s regional operations office in Maun, each junior secondary school in Maun selected three (3) students of mixed genders to represent the school in the project. The senior secondary school, since it has the biggest population of students, selected five (5) students. The total number of students is twenty (20). Each school also sent in a teacher representative who accompanies the students during the activities. The purpose of having the teacher present is to also impart teachers with skills and knowledge that they may not have – or that which the classroom syllabus does not cover.
Students were taken through a series of three whole-day workshops. All students taking part had a good command of the English language and a love for literature/writing/leisure reading.
The schools were Maun Senior Secondary School, Tshwaragano Junior Secondary School, Sedie Junior Secondary School, Moeti Junior Secondary School, Tsodilo Junior Secondary School and Maitlamo Junior Secondary School.
Operation Voice and Microphone – GHANZI
The Ghanzi part of the My Botswana Storytelling Project focused on Botswana’s oral traditions of telling stories. Botswana has a rich oral tradition that predates all local written literatures. In the past, stories were told in the form of both folktales and poetry. It was through the telling of stories that education was passed down from generation to generation. In this project, Poetavango worked with fifteen (15) primary school learners from different schools in Ghanzi. Only students who were creative and eager to learn new things had been selected for this project.
The participants were taken through a weeklong workshop of oral stories covering both poetry and storytelling. The organizers invited to the workshop community elders who tought learners the traditional methods of telling stories through mainane and dithamalakane. The Poetavango collective complemented the lessons with modern ways of telling stories – and helped participant to become creative and innovative in their telling of stories.
Learners planned and told stories on the My Botswana theme. The stories were mostly in Setswana and other local languages. The entire oral storytelling process was filmed and documented as a short documentary film.
Participating schools in Ghanzi were Kgaphamadi Primary school, Ghanzi Primary School and Kabakae Primary School.
The Tech-Shop - Gaborone
The My Botswana Storytelling TechShop was part of the My Botswana Storytelling Project that takes place in Maun, Ghanzi and Gaborone. The project was facilitated by the Poetavango Collective in collaboration with The Clicking Generation.
Since the Maun and Ghanzi activities focused primarily on the crafts of writing, conventional publishing methods and traditional oral storytelling, the TechShop in Gaborone explored IT in relation to literature and looked at how computer technology can be used to enhance, promote and market one’s writings. The TechShop did not teach technicalities on the craft of writing but it introduced to up-and-coming young writers in schools, ways of exploiting technology and the internet for the benefit of their writings.
Participants were students who had the passion for writing and the ability to write – students with impressive English composition writing skills. This was important because participants were required to use their existing writings from past class exercises.
Schools identified for this project are Bokamoso Junior Secondary School, Marang Junior Secondary School and Gaborone Senior Secondary School.
The My Botswana Storytelling Project was fully sponsored by the State Department though Embassy of the USA, Gaborone, Botswana.