August 2007                                    Newsletter
Volume 1, Issue 1

Bessie Room at Serowe Museum

     A permanent Bessie Head Exhibit Room has been opened at the Khama III Memorial Museum in Serowe. The room has a collection of Bessie's photos, a biographical outline of Bessie's life, her writing desk, her typewriter, and the Order of Ikhamanga, awarded posthumously by South Africa.
     The room was prepared for public viewing by Hans Christian Vorting and Jonna Vorting, former curators of the Museum who returned to Serowe for a brief visit. They were assisted by Museum staff and Howard Head.
     In other news, librarian Ruth Forchhammer is set to return to Serowe next week to the final cataloguing of the Bessie Head Papers. The Catalogue will be published next year. Funds are still needed for this project; donations will be greatly appreciated.

BessieFest Logo

The logo for the BessieFest will be based on this lotus flower. It signifies Bessie Head's interest in Indian religions and philosophy.
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Are you planning to come to BessieFest?

A number of you have contacted us about coming to the BessieFest celebrations, and some of you have volunteered to give talks about Bessie, her life, times and writings. You come from such diverse places as West Africa, Central Africa, Europe, North America and India, as well as southern Africa. Note that as of this writing, there are organising groups in Gaborone and Serowe, Botswana. We very much hope that Pietermaritzburg and Cape Town will also host events.
     Some of you have enquired about keynote addresses and keynote speakers. At this time the organisers would not wish to single out any paper or any speaker as "keynote"; we are looking for a format that Bessie herself would have been comfortable with.
     We urge you all to think about the information, interpretations, and opinions that you would like to share with the rest of us. Hopefully they will fit into some 1000 to 5000 words, or into pieces or art, or into music. All contributions will be heard, at one or more events, and all contributions will be published together afterwards.

Good news for Bessie readers

Next year will see published a number of works by or about Bessie. More crucially, some of her books will appear in new editions. Editor Stephen Gray, for instance, hopes to make A Woman Alone a Penguin Modern Classic.
     Perhaps the most important volume looking for a new publisher is the biography, Bessie Head: The Thunder Behind Her Ears. Will it reappear in time for next year's Fest?

Bessie Head Heritage Trust

Work continues to draft and submit an appropriate long-term Trust Deed for this heritage group, though it is proving to be hard work.
     The Trust is slowly taking shape. It is likely to consist of a group of working trustees as well as Advisory and Honorary Trustees. The latter will hopefully include her son Howard and ex-husband Harold Head and several others.

Music CD Planned in Canada

A young Canadian musician, Timothy Popowich, has composed music based on Maru and will arrange recording sessions next month. Maru is Bessie's second book, in which she explores relationships between Basarwa (Bushmen) and other Batswana.

Are you able to make a donation?
We depend on volunteers and donations. If you wish to send us a cheque, please make it out to Khama III Memorial Museum / Bessie Head Heritage and write the account number 1001329 on it as well. Then mail it to Private Bag 008, Serowe, Botswana.
     From overseas, an electronic transfer is much better: Khama III Memorial Museum / Bessie Head Heritage, Barclays Bank, Serowe Branch, Botswana, with transfer number 291467 – 1001329.
     If you would like your donation to be used for a specific purpose, please let us know. If you would like to have a written receipt, please tell us where to send it.
Website News
Have you visited lately?
  • You will find: news of what's going on, even this newsletter on the site
  • A brief biography of Bessie Head's life, together with timeline
  • Critical material sent in by readers (like yourself!)
  • Photos of Bessie's associates
  • The full text of Bessie's last and greatest essay, "Why Do I Write?"
  • Our volunteer in Joburg hopes to redesign the site
  • Coming soon: against-the-grain articles by Susan Gardner and Stephen Gray, from the 1980s

Volunteers! Volunteers! Volunteers!

We warmly appreciate the impressive number of people who have already volunteered their services for BessieFest 2007.
If we feel weak in any department, it is a lack of organisers in Cape Town and Pietermaritzburg. Do you know interested people there? Please forward this email to them, or point them to
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Our appreciation to hard-working volunteers Gothataone Moeng and Priscilla Matara, who did all the initial work for this newsletter. Bravo!
© 2006 Bessie Head Heritage