Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Gothataone Moeng interviewed by Emmanuel Sigauke

Your story “Who Knows What Tomorrow Brings,” published in Long Time Coming ('amaBooks 2008) looks at the unpredictability of change, how so suddenly Zimbabweans who used to be welcomed with smiles in Botswana are now being spat at, now labeled thieves and evil herbalists. In writing this story about the misfortunes that had befallen Zimbabwe, were you devising a social justice statement? In fact, this seems to be one of the preoccupations of most of your stories, whether you are writing about the role of children in society, the importance of women in patriarchal societies, and the issues of gender and sexuality in general: do you believe it is the role of fiction to deal with such issues?

This question is very difficult to answer because I have actually been asking myself the same question, of whether as a writer I should write fiction that deals with social issues. I do think that fiction has a role to at least make readers aware of such issues, but what I have noticed with a number of Batswana writers (I myself have fallen prey to this) is that this responsibility or need to talk about issues often ends up as a sort of burden. The message then becomes the point of the story and the story becomes quite didactic. We have thus had a deluge of stories about HIV that are very predictable, a variation of the Joe comes to town story, where a young innocent girl comes from the villages to the city, and is soon caught up in the fast paced Gaborone life and disregards advice from friends and family, etc. and then falls sick. My own solution to this is that I don’t make the issue the focal point of the story; I make the character the focal point and then explore how such a character navigates their way around such an issue. I do sometimes write stories that do not deal with any serious issues, but none of these have been published, so maybe it’s also a question of what people want to read.

For the complete interview with Gothataone, please visit


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