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Bessie Amelia Head was born on July 6th, 1937 ...
During July 2007 we're gonna have a party!

In July 2007 the acclaimed writer Bessie Head would have turned 70 years old. Her friends and colleagues around the world will honour her during that month with a series of conferences, new books and theses, re-namings, tree-plantings, writing prizes, and the founding of a permanent Bessie Head Heritage Trust to guarantee the future of her house and literary papers.

We intend to celebrate her life & writings in Serowe, Gaborone, Pietermaritzburg, Cape Town, and other cities around the world with meetings, readings, and exhibitions. There is already strong interest in Gaborone, Serowe, Durban, and Cape Town; readers have written from the UK, US, India, and Sierra Leone. Throughout 2007, we hope that libraries, writers’ associations, literary associations, and readers who love her books will honour her life as they think best.

A score of people plan to make a shorter or longer trip from outside the region in order to participate. Is it possible for you to join us?

Literature Awards
Bessie's Writings
Bessie Head Papers
News & Calendar
BessieFest 2007
Invited Editorials
For You, Readers
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  More ideas for
BessieFest 2007

BessieFest 2007: Planned activities

  • Gaborone, Botswana: July 5 and 6; Symposium at UB
    Pietermaritzburg, South Africa: July 12; Seminar at CALS
    Serowe, Botswana: July 15, 16, and 17; many-sided festival
    Cape Town, South Africa: to be announced, likely to be
          at District Six Museum
  • Plant trees, name libraries and other public places in her honour; establish Bessie Head student and professional writing prizes. In Botswana the organising committee has identified appropriate trees and has secured funds for three national writing prizes. It will shortly propose the re-naming of several sites and buildings.
  • Publish a new book of our recollections of her: Writing Bessie Head from Botswana: An Anthology of Remembrance and Criticism. This project has gone to the publishers. Another volume of criticism and perhaps another of Bessie's letters are likely from overseas scholars. The Catalogue of the Bessie Head Papers, will be published by the Serowe Museum, both as bound volumes and as a CD-ROM.
  • Have in place a permanent website and electronic newsletter. With financial assistance from Harold Head, we have established a website and now we strive to build it, The organising committee would be grateful for the services of a volunteer! Fortunately the newsletter is more secure: two volunteers have stepped forward to work on it. The committee's email address is
  • If possible, unravel the secret of her father's identity. This goal is a wild card, one which depends on research resources in the Johannesburg area. We can say, however, that all previous theories have been shown to be myths.
  • Have in place a Bessie Head Heritage Trust to maintain our work on a continuing basis once the celebrations are over. The application papers are about to be filed. This Trust will promote her work, award writing prizes, and, as a centrepiece of Botswana's celebrations:
  • Proclaim her Serowe home, "Rain Clouds", as a protected Heritage Site. The application has already been made. We hope the government make the proclamation at the Serowe events next year. Bessie's son, Howard Head, has agreed to help. It is not impossible that her gravesite can be protected in the same way.
  • more details here ...

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2009 BHead Heritage Trust