BY : Mosa Mojonothoane
The year 2023 is set to be a transformational year for poets and aspiring artists with a planned series of poetry, music, book reading and discussion sessions, brought to life by Voices from Verses in collaboration with NOBO Hub Coffee Shop.
The pioneering session will take place this coming Saturday at NOBO Hub Coffee Shop from 12:00 noon to 4 pm at a free entrance.
Hosted and inspired by the Poet Thato Rannana, known by the stage name, Atandwa Naleli, the open-mic poetry show will open a platform for aspiring artists to showcase their crafts and come together to share ideas and read local books and thus promote local literature.
“In a very small entertainment market in Lesotho, a few artists have found a concrete ground to stand on and have become the face of the crafts they each represent. This limits the expansion of the industry and compromises too many undiscovered talents. While many are challenged by funds and knowledge of the right routes to take, a vast majority of artists need space to sell themselves, to show what they have to offer the industry,” she said, declaring that this is a platform for everyone who wants to come out and sell their talent.
She added; “From as little as 15 years old, I have been privileged to get a chance to perform so I thought of doing the same thing for other people because I could see the impact it did on my life.” She said this idea was triggered by the realization of the struggle that local artists face in a bid to find opportunities for exposure in the country and abroad, which in turn demotivates some to pursue and grow their talents.
These sessions are to happen throughout the year with different themes. The upcoming session will run under the theme; Revolution.
The Poet revealed that they hope to reach out to the youth in the districts through social media, saying they would like to host district tours in a long run. “Through sponsorships for travelling expenses, we may succeed with the plan. Collaboration with taxi or cab businesses can bring a very huge impact,” she insinuated.
Atandwa further called upon stakeholders to lend a helping hand in terms of content coverage, media coverage, paying the artists in a later stage and providing radio tours for the authors in order to move this initiative to a national level. “We would like to have things like data, cameras, local designers coming to collaborate on a fashion level with the team and yes bigger stages and bookings.”
She sorrowfully shared that her venture and exposure to poetry was encouraged by her late High School teacher, Sam Emeke, who proposed stage performances. The rest, it turns out, are a result of hard work. “I made my own connections and knocked on so many doors until I was headhunted. I came to personally know big names in the industry, the likes of Lelo ‘Molutsi, Thabo Marebole, Tsebang Masenkane, the late Khosatsana Ea Phokeng, and this was a journey of 10 years,” narrated the poet.
Also a Sotho Kids Poet and Writer’s Space Africa (WSA) – Lesotho member and Vice Public Relations Officer (PRO), Atandwa says she was able to release a poetry book with the help of WSA-Lesotho and opportunities to perform at many other prominent stages. “Through Sotho Kids Culture Agency, I was able to perfect my craft and it added more confidence to my stage performances,” she said.