These awards will be presented to the first-place winners at a special prize-giving ceremony on Sunday, July 20 at the Little Theatre in the National Museum in Gaborone. Second- and third-position winners will receive certificates of distinction. The proceedings will take place from 2:30 to 5:00 pm and will include readings from the winning entries and other literary entertainment. The public is encouraged to attend; young writers and media professionals are especially welcome.
The Bessie Head Heritage Trust is proud that this year's awards ceremony will form part of the National Heritage Festival that begins on July 21st. The Trust believes that it is through literature, music, and all other forms of cultural imagination that both personal spirit and national identity are nurtured and strengthened.
The Bessie Head writing competition is offered annually by the Bessie Head Heritage Trust in association with Pentagon Publishers. Each year's winning entries, and other entries of superior quality, will be published by Pentagon in its Bessie Head series. This series is devoted to new creative writing in English by Botswana authors.
The first Bessie Head writing prizes were awarded in July 2007 at the BessieFest celebration in Serowe. This event commemorated the 70th anniversary of Bessie Head's birth. The 2007 winners were: Mr Khonani Ontebetse, novel; Ms Bontekanye Botumile, short story; and Mr Monty Fanikiso Moswela, poetry.
The Bessie Head Heritage Trust believes that the creative writer must never fear to write. In closing, we remind Batswana of Bessie Head's words in 1985, shortly before her death, when she answered the question: Why Do I Write? She stated:
"I write because I have authority from life to do so... I have built up a kind of people religion that is rooted in the African soil. My world opposes the world of politicians. They plan for and dictate to the people. In my world people plan for themselves and dictate their requirements to me. It is a world full of love, tenderness, happiness and laughter... I am building a stairway to the stars. I have the authority to take the whole of mankind up there with me. That is why I write."