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Critical Literary Arts in Action: The Decolonial Project of Ba re e ne re within and beyond Lesotho

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In this article Lineo Segoete and Zachary Rosen of the Maseru Working Group explore the historical construction of literary infrastructure established in Lesotho. Building on an analysis of Sesotho language orthography by Dr Litšepiso Matlosa, the pair recall the colonial genesis of written Sesotho by Swiss and French missionaries. As a result of this influence, Lesotho’s written Sesotho remains embedded with marks of orthographic inconsistency. The legacies of written language in Lesotho inform the relationships the Basotho have with literature.

The article demostrates that through the ensuing dialogues, the Ba re e ne re Literature Festival has since served as a creative outlet and knowledge exchange for Basotho while expanding its reach through additional creative interventions rooted in decolonial theory. Partnerships with peer literary and cultural organisations in other African countries have generated valuable exchanges as well. In mapping out its myriad connections, Lineo and Zachary argue that through reflexive praxis, the Ba re e ne re Literature Festival served to delink literary culture in Lesotho from colonial institutions and practices through cultivating a new generation of storytellers, readers and cultures.

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