Our SLA community knows Kagiso Madibana as the founder/ chairperson of Nayang Association, a social venture that she founded in 2014. She is also an entrepreneur who owns a communications company called MD Africa Communications.
Kagiso is also a self-published author of the book ‘Tales from the heart of Botswana: Baareng’s journey’. She is currently working on finishing her second book which will be centered on her traveling adventures and actual journey to self-discovery.
Her passion for telling stories has also pushed her to seek partners in the theatre world to try and turn her first novel into a play. In this chat, we look into Kagiso’s writing journey, and the successes she has encountered.
What influenced your decision to become a writer?
Over the years, I have learned that I can communicate and express myself better through writing. I also have an obsession with sharing and creating stories about experiences that could change lives or make an impact.
What was the inspiration behind ‘Tales from the heart of Botswana: Baareng’s journey’?
I grew up reading a lot of books and I learned a lot about the world these books. However, I never found characters that I could relate to. None of them sounded like my story or that of my neighbor.
So, I wanted to write a book that the ordinary Motswana/African could relate to. I also wanted to write inspirational stories about hope because our generation desperately needs it.
Your book examines relatable topics. Why was it important for you to write about these issues?
The work we do at Nayang Association exposes us to a lot of poverty and people who give up on life because they have no hope for the future.
Through our mantra of “community building“, we want to change the mindset that one has to rich in order to help build their communities. We seek to inspire kids and help them believe that they can become whoever they want to be and also be involved in community building.
Through the book, I was able to bring to life characters that have the same challenges that people in our country face and show how they were able to overcome their obstacles despite their environment.
How did your debut novel end up being adopted for the Botswana standard four class syllabus?
From the early age of 8, children begin discovering things that develop their personalities and form who they will be. When I wrote the book, I made the decision to use English in its simplest form so that anybody from the ages of 8-60 could read the story.
My breakthrough came a year after I had traveled to different government schools (primary to senior). During these trips, I would give talks and donate books to outstanding students at prize-giving ceremonies.
I would also be reaching out to different schools to see if the novel would be a suitable read for the children.
Bathoen I House in Orapa, a Debswana private school was the first school to order the book as part of their syllabus for standard fours. Thereafter, other schools and Bridge Books Bookstore, in Maboneng and Commissioner Street in Johannesburg, bought the novel for their libraries.
How did you get nominated for the Social Entrepreneur of the Year at the Africa Youth Awards? What did you gain from this experience?
I believe in sharing the activities of Nayang Association with our network because it helps us remain relevant. Through our Facebook page, we update our network and reach out to more people to help us attain our goal of touching lives.
One day, I received an email from the Africa Youth Awards Committee, notifying me that 5 social entrepreneurs from across Africa along with members of the Committee had nominated us.
The process was then open to public voting. Competing against very deserving and inspirational individuals was quite an honor. In the end, I didn’t lose anything, I gained a continental network.
How was your journey as a Batswana literary artist/creative?
Leaving an 8-5 job to focus on writing in a country that doesn’t have much of a reading culture was a gamble. However, I knew I had to take this path.
My challenging journey often made me think of giving up. There is a popular saying that “passion doesn’t pay the bills”. However, faith and the confidence in what I was doing guided my experience. Eventually, doors started to open.
During my journey, I had nobody to look up to or guide me. Don’t get me wrong, there are amazing writers in this country but I didn’t know their story. I choose to share mine to aspire young writers and help them learn and improve from what I did.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Learn as much as you can and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Search for entrepreneurship workshops in your area and online but most importantly NETWORK.
If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here.