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17 May 2023 | Story NONSINDISO QWABE | Photo SUPPLIED
Matsimela Setenane
Matsimela Setenane speaking about his book Haeso ke Naheng at the launch event on the Qwaqwa Campus.

In celebration of African linguistic diversity and the power of indigenous creative expression, the UFS African Languages Press, in collaboration with the Academy for Multilingualism on the Qwaqwa Campus, kick-started Africa Month with the launch of the African Languages Press on the campus, as well as the Multilingual Hub, and finally, its first product, a book titled Haeso ke Naheng by former UFS Qwaqwa Campus student Matsimela Setenane.

The African Languages Press was launched on the Bloemfontein Campus in May 2022.

In her opening remarks, Dr Tholani Hlongwa, Deputy Director of the Academy of Multilingualism, said the Languages Press and Multilingual Hub would work together to publish high-quality original content in African languages. “We will promote writing in African languages and position the UFS as a hub, promoter, and preserver of African languages in South Africa. We want to support upcoming authors by providing high-quality editorial services and bridge the gap left by the mainstream publishing industry by increasing the publication of African languages, among other things.” 

A creative expression of the Sesotho language

Haeso ke Naheng, a fictional Sesotho novel, looks at the life of Thabo, an orphan who witnessed the takeover of his place of birth. He grows up to be a revolutionary Sesotho warrior who fights to reclaim his birthplace. His story resonates with his life; the author told the audience during the book launch. “Through writing this book, I discovered a lot about my origins as a Mosotho man. It is our responsibility as young people to continue digging to discover who we are so that we, too, will have knowledge to pass on to our children”, he said.

Setenane was born and bred in Qwaqwa and obtained his BSc degree majoring in Physics and Chemistry qualification from the Bloemfontein Campus in 2019. His love for Sesotho literature has grown over the years, and he hopes to produce more literature that celebrates the creative expression of his culture. He is currently busy with his first poetry anthology, which is also in Sesotho.

A platform to reignite free expression in indigenous languages

The guest speaker for the launch was Dr Edwin Mohatlane, who praised the UFS for the strides it's taking towards preserving and promoting African indigenous languages. “This is a milestone in the development of our languages. Our languages are doomed to extinction because of our attitudes towards them. I hope that the African Languages Press and the Multilingual Hub will be used to promote the literary and aesthetic talents in our languages”, he said.

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