Sunday, October 17, 2010


After a considerable silence, Pule Lechesa, the powerful Free State literary critic has again hit the limelight with his publication of the article ‘Fatal flaws in Hector Kunene’s Through the tunnel’. The article is already making waves around the world. Jerry caught up with Mr Lechesa and probed him why he finally broke his silence, so to speak…

(Image) One of Lechesa's books

For years you were known for robust, even tough literary criticism. Why were you silent for so long?

I’ve had strenuous journalistic responsibilities recently, and I also kept quiet deliberately, watching the so-called literary scene. I have been shocked at how some new wave young writers think they are special, so arrogant, not knowing what literature is about

But surely you must agree that this year is the best ever for Free State black literature with emergence of so many writers, like Hector Kunene, Teboho Masakala, NMM Duman, Jah Rose etc –

I don’t agree. As Shakespeare would say, it’s just a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing! The only great work has been Duman’s Deepest Springs...she took her time, never praised herself, never put even one photo of herself in her brilliant book; she went through literary agencies etc. The newcomers must learn first about the world of literature, read, study dozens of great writers; respect established writers, before they even announce themselves to the world. But having said this, I must add that Teboho Masakala, though very young, has the talent and imagination. If he remains modest he will do very well in the future

Are you not worried the new writers will dislike you for criticising them?

No true critic worries about telling the truth. I have already made my name as an international critic, and I can’t be afraid of newcomers. I am helping them anyway by telling them the truth. Yes I am aware that all over the world we blacks in particular dislike criticisms. Lewis Nkosi suffered a lot because he rightly criticised other writers. Achebe, Ayi Kwei Armah etc fought themselves over criticism – whilst they are great critics too!

How do you identify mistakes most others do not see?

The simple truth is that most of us do not even read…we take a look at the blurb of a book, admire how pretty or lovely the cover is and we start praising the book. This is pure illiteracy and we also destroy our black writers by doing this. The true reader becomes excited or otherwise with what is actually written, not the frills and decorations. I can’t take egotistical writers seriously

What do you mean?

The greatest writers around, white or black – eg Ngugi, Hemingway,Morrison, Achebe – never praise themselves; not in their own books. You can not see more than one moderate photo of theirs in their books. You see young writers putting 3, 4, 5 or more photos of themselves in a book nowadays. It’s absurd. That’s why no real perceptive reader takes them seriously; that’s why the real critics do not even bother writing about their books, as things like egotism irritate them

So why are so many new writers doing these wrong things?

They just want quick fame, instant acclamation, without going through the ropes. A writer like Flaxman Qoopane has been writing internationally for decades, many of his books are digitised on the internet from overseas universities – these things don’t happen overnight. We must learn how to crawl before we can walk, not to talk of sprinting with gusto!

Thursday, September 23, 2010


The Sports Eye, since its inception in early 2008 has carved a niche for itself in the genre of sports publication. Now, the Sports Eye will be published in tabloid format. O Bolaji caught up with Kaya Mntsantsa, the proud publisher whose dream of publishing a riveting monthly sports publication is already gathering shape.

OB - Firstly, I must commend you for the success of The Sports Eye, it really made an indelible mark when it was in its magazine format, can you summarise some of its achievements?

KM- My Chief this was a road well travelled, I will always remember our website launch (, The Sports Eye Launch Cup that saw about 26 teams participating with Public Works team emerging as winners and the famous Caddies Golf Tournament we hosted at the Dewetsdorp Golf Course giving game time to caddies who sometimes are only tasked with the duty of carrying bags for professional golfers. It was indeed the beginning of the much bigger things that came later.

OB- Now you have decided to go tabloid. What informed you to make this decision? Won’t you alienate most of your readers?

KM – The new tabloid version will be bigger and better, we are not new to the tabloid version as The Sports Eye Northern and North West have always been in the tabloid format. This is a continuation of a job well done where we will print one edition for the three provinces.

OB - South Africans are vibrant, fanatic sports lovers, why is it that there are so few sports-specific publication?

KM - I would like to agree with you entirely on this one and the challenge is upon us as publishers especially in the community media to roll up our sleeves and tap into this uncovered market. I must mention the fact that exclusive publications are difficult to maintain as advertisers including government departments are not all centred around sports.

OB - South Africa hosted a superb, World Class event the FIFA World Cup 2010 recently. We are now highly respected internationally for this. What do you think are the positive spin-offs from the tournament?

KM - We are very proud to have been publishing during the time of the World Cup; it was a fantastic moment for us. Our emails were flooded with emails from foreign people wanting to learn more about our publication. It was indeed a moment of glory. It was also significant in the sense that it changed the whole perception of the western world about Africa and truly we showed our best in all forms.

OB – How does a publication like yours delicately balance reporting on grassroots, local, provincial, national and international sporting events?

KM – We always concentrate on local sporting activities including profiling unsung local heroes as you can see in this edition. It is also our belief that local is lekker.

OB -Will you say your publication is mainstream-catering for most people, or mainly for the black market?

KM - We cater for every sporting code and we believe that through sport we can achieve the much needed unity amongst all races, remember the vibe during the World Cup, let’s build from that legacy.

OB- We know that in modern journalism/media, marketing makes or breaks a publication. Are you prepared to ensure that in this field, you are not found wanting?

KM - Printing the first copy of a publication is a daunting task on its own, there are enormous challenges that one needs to overcome on daily basis. However, we are already in our 18th edition and the support has been great thanks to our Free State Provincial government.

OB- How do you see Sports Eye in the long term? Maybe four years from now? How do you intend to grow further?

KM.-The printing of the tabloid version is one of the many initiatives geared towards growth. We are also focussing on brand awareness through community initiatives we have been part of recently. Surely in a year’s time there will be no mention of any sporting activity without our name being mentioned in the areas we are currently covering.

OB -You are well known to many in the publishing fraternity, but how will you describe Kaya Mntsantsa the sports publisher to the world at large?

KM - I have been engaged in printing and publishing for many years’ now. I was one of the pioneers in this field in the Free State and I have always forged ahead. It’s a challenge I took since the inception of the publication that a true publisher is the one who puts the readers first before any revenue can be generated. To me the most important thing has been to see the magazine on the street, I must well appreciate the support especially from the Free State Department of Sports, Arts and Culture, they have made the road less rocky and its my belief that together we can do more.

OB -Good luck in this new endeavour hope it becomes the success it’s meant to be.

KM - We will need all the luck my chief, we have also assembled a good team that will be knocking on many doors. We sincerely hope that they will open. Thanks for the opportunity.

Monday, August 2, 2010



The World Cup has come and gone – an outstanding success for South Africa. Yet immediately on the heels of the tournament has come the Fifa Under- 21 Women’s World Cup finals going on now. Why is it that the spotlight on the current tournament is so limited; almost non-existent? Lebohang Masisi spoke to Maria Mohanoe, Free State female football enthusiast and pundit, on this

MASISI: There is a World Cup on now, for women. Why it is that apart from the very limited coverage, there is hardly any enthusiasm about it?

MARIA: Let’s get one thing straight first – millions of women and men love female football not only in this country, but all over the world. The women’s World Cup is big – being beamed live around the world to many countries too. And we all remember the great days of South African women’s football, the days of Desiree Ellis, etc. But we must remember that the euphoria over the 2010 men’s World Cup was extraordinary; it was history for us, for Africa, hosting the world. It was just too much. There was some sort of anti-climax after we successfully staged it…it’s like we needed a break; but immediately the tournament was over, Fifa began to stage the World Cup finals for women too. For people like me I have watched more or less all the women’s games live from Germany.

MASISI: Some people say that because South Africa did not qualify for the finals of the women’s World Cup, the interest is not just there…

MARIA: I’m afraid I can not agree. See how during the men’s World Cup we totally supported countries like Ghana and Ivory Coast. Right now Ghana, together with Nigeria, are playing at the women’s World Cup finals, representing Africa (in Germany). We support them. The problem is that the coverage has not been really there on popular TV, not everybody has DSTV. How many people know that Ghana and Nigeria have been doing well at the women’s World Cup now?

MASISI: What about the general standard of football for women? Many say again that it’s not up to scratch

MARIA: Those are the ignorant ones; the people who criticize without even watching the ladies playing. Just watch the games yourself and you will see how wonderful the girls have been playing. In some ways they are much better than the men playing (football). The ladies are very skilful, but most important they do not play in a brutal, nasty, dirty way like men do many times. They respect each other. Clean football at its best. Let’s enjoy the Women’s World Cup!

NOTE: The Nigerian soccer side made it to the very final of the wmen's World Cup, defeating USA and Columbia along the way. The final match was won by Germany who beat Nigeria 2-0

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


We caught up with an inspiring young and vibrant poet in Free State Hector Kunene. Seleke Botsime presents this awesome interview of the soon to be launched book called Through The Tunnel by HECTOR.S. Kunene.

SB : How do you feel about the imminent publication of your first book ?

HK: It is quite a humbling experience having to talk about my own work going to press at this stage, I have always dreamt that one day I will have my book in the shelves of libraries throughout the country and bookshops, I know it’s a big dream and to realize it is not easy but I choose to aim for the sky and if I don’t reach it then I will fall on the stars.

SB : Obviously you love poetry so much, how did it start for you, from childhood?

HK : I am not going to lie to you man, I only realized it when I was doing grade 10 at school. I just got inspired and started writing; I loved literature and was brilliant in understanding how to break down a poem into understanding and getting to picture the mind of a writer when he wrote the piece. I always had brilliant teachers in English so they made poetry interesting whenever they read it so I think that caught my attention. From there I wrote my first piece which was published on the school news letter. My parents were excited when I showed them my name on the bottom of the corner. As they say the rest is history but for me it is a present moment.

SB: What do you think the role of literature, writing should be?

HK : That is a brilliant question, we writers do not only write because we can but we are conveying a message either to warn about a danger that we foresee or we could be simply expressing our feelings, the role of writing should definitely be to tell about our histories, stories for our children, to bring comics and laughter and to convey knowledge and literature best does it.

SB : It remains a sad fact that relatively very few blacks read for leisure – poetry, drama, etc. what can be done to improve the situation?

HK : Yoh! This is a difficult one but I think we writers need to make it our role to go all out in getting people to read perhaps staring in our community where we are based and do reading campaigns and go to local radio stations and encourage the people telling them of the importance of libraries. We complain about everything whereas if we went to libraries we would find a lot of information that can help us to step out of poverty. We are not poor because we do not have money but we are poor because we think money will come to us, it actually works the other way around! e.g Money will not come to me but I need to invite money by writing a book then money will come after me. We need to provoke something in order for it to give us attention so we must provoke the people to read. Looking especially on my book Through The Tunnel, this book will provoke your thoughts about stuff, it will challenge you thinking about why you are on earth, look at the poem called the Intention of my legacy it tells you that for the fact that you are here it means there is a purpose for your life. You can see this poem on or you can google me. I dare you will be enlightened.

SB : Which writers or literary activists have influenced, helped or encouraged you the most?

HK : Well first that will be the love of writing and turning a complete clean A4 page into life changing cycles. You have got to love what you do or else how do you expect somebody else to? I am in love with my own writings, after writing a piece I look at it and I call it a masterpiece artwork! This is not necessarily self praise but self confidence. I must be able to sell the piece to myself so that the next person can buy it. Ha ha ha, well back to the question sir I was inspired by William Shakespeare especially when I studied Macbeth in grade 11 and 12 so even today I still even remember the first lines of the book “when shall we three meet again, in rain, thunder or storm” which was the line of the witches. Anyway from there I continued to love the sonnets of Shakespeare about love “shall I love thee” I loved the language even thou I had to have a dictionary all the time. From there on I began to write my own sonnets and I thought wallah! I attended a Wits University point system to see if I qualified to study there and I met Kafela oa Gogodi who was going to be my Bachelor of Art in Dramatic art degree lecturer and he inspired me a lot but unfortunately I could not go to Wits due to financial constrains. Locally currently I am reading books by the great O Bolaji’s Snippets, a poetry book he wrote whilst he was in Cape Town, I just finished reading the book of the ladies in Free State and I am busy with Pule Lechesa and Mr. Flaxman Qoopane... Quack of Qwaqwa, I want to know who was there before me and what they did so that we do not get to repeat history.

SB : You have a full time job, a young family yet you still read, write, produce a column regularly. How do you manage to juggle, balance all this Mr. Kunene?

HK : ( Smiling ) it is not easy baba, as a young father who recently got married, when my wife and I met she knew that I was a writer and a poet so she understands me very well although I do not take for granted that I must give her the time she needs. Being married and having a toddler in the house can be difficult for any writer so when I am at home I am the husband and when I get out I am a writer so I spend most of my time especially lunch time writing or before I go home I pass the library to do some research and write. There is a poem called In-flight joy thought, I wrote this one when I was flying from Joburg to Bloemfontein. It is also found in my book Through The Tunnel, here I was meditating about my son Ntokozo before he was born. My wife Christina also helped me in typing most of the work that I wrote when I did not have a laptop with me. She complains that I write all the time yet I never finish anything; so this is my first book going on print and I am truly humbled and blessed. I must say that at times I slip out of bed to write in the middle of the night and when I am done it feel like a massive achievement. I then sleep in peace! Thank you...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

"I'm proud to put the Free State on the Map"

“I’m proud to put the FS on the map”

It is exciting times now with the World Cup just around the corner. FIFA is leaving no stone unturned to ensure that the tournament is a success. One of their projects is the FIFA training sessions even for journalists. The Free State was represented at the last session by Pule Lechesa, who jets out again to Kenya next week for the second part of the training. Free State News’ Lebohang Masisi spoke to Lechesa

Your general comment on your first trip to Kenya?

It was a fine learning process. Seeing the world makes one more broad-minded and makes one to realize there are countless other languages and cultures out there! Football is indeed a universal, quite unifying sport.

We had journalists from different countries such as Zimbabwe (Toni Wellington) Zambia (Augustine Mukoka) Uganda (Norman Katende) Uganda (Denis Dibele) Tanzania (Mwani Mbani) Tanzania (Saleh Ally Saleh) Uganda (David Kbanga). What impressed me with these guys was that they were pulsating with the knowledge of European and African football.

Did any of them have some prior knowledge of the Free State?

Many people I spoke to there commented on the fact that they were very impressed with the Free State Stadium which they saw on satellite TV when Spain played at the last Confederations Cup which South Africa hosted. I answered all questions about our Province (Free State) easily over there. I am always proud to put the Free State on the map!

You had a supervisor over there?

We were trained by a veteran Sports Editor, Allan Kelly, who seemed to know his ropes beyond any shadow of doubts. He has a very impressive journalistic pedigree and I regard our group as lucky as he eagerly rubbed off his prowess over us.

Some critics will say that – with all the experience you have already on covering sports, what else can you learn from such very short training sessions?

There’s always a lot to learn. As sports writers we are all different but you can always assimilate other things that make you a better writer. It’s important to avoid complacency; have your work criticized by others and hopefully you improve in the process

Of course you write a lot on sports yourself. But your own style of writing – full of big words, adjectival; don’t you risk alienating many of your readers?

I prefer to believe that my readers are intelligent, and anyway they’ll appreciate learning sometimes from what I write! But I think my column is simple enough, from the reactions I get from readers.

Good luck with your trip

(Smiling broadly) Thanks

Friday, March 26, 2010


The movie, Sugar Man is now being seen in the townships of the Free State. Already well known internationally, the movie is written, edited and directed by Aryan Kaganof. Urbain Tila the first black man to produce a movie based on Bloemfontein city spoke with Jerry Seekoei about “Sugar Man”

JERRY: You’ve now watched the movie, Sugar Man. What was your general impression about it?

TILA: You know the interesting thing in our townships is how so many people can gather together to watch, exchange the DVD in question; so it has been with Sugar Man. There was one particular viewing session where over 25 people were watching the movie in a private house! To be honest, I think Sugar Man is very well produced, never mind its being shot by cell phone. It’s professionally done, with fine angles of shooting. That it was done in Jozy heightens the interest.

JERRY: But virtually all our black people who watched the movie have expressed anger and frustration that the black men could not sleep with such attractive white ladies in the movie.

TILA: Yes, that aspect, from our point of view, is unconvincing. We know that most black people – especially those virile young looking blacks in Sugar Man – will in reality be very excited about those women and will easily sleep with them. And these white women were very seductive, dancing, exposing their boobs etc. So why couldn’t those blacks rise to the occasion?

JERRY: And they (the blacks) paid Sugar Man a lot of money to sleep with those ladies…

TILA: That’s another thing (laughing) You know many of our people whilst watching the movie say something like: ‘If it was me I won’t waste such large money on a pimp. Even in Bloem here we know the many places where you can pick up an attractive white prostitute for 200 rand or even less! You don’t need the services of a pimp for that!'

JERRY: What about the portrayal of Sugar Man himself in the movie?

TILA: I thought there was something strange about it. Maybe because we are blacks…I mean, we know quite a few “pimps” locally and they are “jolly” fellows, not remote like Sugar Man; they (local pimps) in fact get intimate with their “girls” so to speak, they protect their monetary interests but they are passionate people!

JERRY: Did you read Bolaji’s review of the movie?

TILA: Of course. I read it very early this morning. But the “review” was not really a review; you know Bolaji is always trying to be fair. What he did was that he just largely published the comments and opinion of Aryan Kaganof on his movie!

JERRY: Are you saying there is something wrong with the writer, producer of a movie coming out to express his own thoughts, inspiration, on producing a book or movie?

TILA: No, I am not saying that. I mean – we have seen writers like George Orwell during his time coming out to confront reviewers, critics, of his classics like Animal Farm and 1984; with Orwell insisting that he did not like the way many of these commentators were misunderstanding what he had published…what I remember from Bolaji’s “review”; his own personal comment, is briefly that the movie, Sugar Man is sensuous!

JERRY: But Sugar Man is definitely sensuous

TILA: Of course it is! Great seductive scenes which come to nothing in the end in most cases! I love the part of those white ladies when they engage in love play, erotic scenes. It is very gripping. Tender, and…I know they’ll call me crazy – but the scenes look somehow decent. Like the ladies really like each other, are fond of each other…I don’t know how to explain it.

Monday, January 18, 2010


Time for the United States of Africa!

Ishmael Mzwandile Soqaga is very passionate about issues of Pan-Africanism. Here, he talks to Jerry about the prospects of Africans uniting for a common course…

JERRY: What is the background to this firm beliefs, credo, of yours?

ISHMAEL MZWANDILE SOQAGA: Post independence Africa has introduced a new era of hope for the African continent, it brings about significant change for the survival of the continent and Africans today are enthusiastically cheerful to the cause of African continent. Actually I believe African governments are seriously determined to usher in the unity and sustainable development of our continent. I am aware that Africa boasted enormous civilization in the past and I am ferociously conscious that in the past neither Africa was a Dark Continent nor was forgotten.

Primarily before the arrival of the white man, Africa was a continent unique in its own the indigenous people were largely enjoying the life as it was and they never complained or wished to embark in so-called revolution. They were having their own civilization of which was the best and appropriate to their context. Nevertheless, the impact of the white man in this continent caused a thorn and burden to the hearts and lives of the Africans and the African continent. The white man was conscious that Africa is utterly different from Europe. Therefore, they sought ways and means to divide Africa and the Africans.

These methods included cheating our ancestral kings to sign agreements that allow them to possess land and to teach Africans the “new and the good” religion, which is Christianity. Christianity was used as the way to convert the Africans to the more advanced (technologically at least) culture of the Europeans. Eventually Europeans established themselves as colonial masters and they unfairly mistreated indigenous people of Africa. In fact, the scramble for Africa ensued after the Berlin international conference in Germany in 1885-86 the conference was all about to reinforce and to formalize colonial policy. This policy was very destructive to the Africans, it never considered the welfare of the Africans, but rather its concern was to use Africans as laborers and slaves in the land of their own birth

But white presence in Africa dates back to centuries ago, doesn’t it?

Actually, before the aforementioned conference Europeans’ presence in Africa was very strong. In South Africa in 1652, the Dutch and East Indian Company under the leadership of Jan Van Reebeck settled in Cape peninsula. Most of the European countries were occupying most of African lands, in Namibia and Togo Germany was in control. Britain, France, Portugal, Spain embarked on the brutal, heinous, barbaric Atlantic Slave Trade where thousands of Africans were exported to the new world. It was very terrible for the life of the black African man and women in the hands of the white man. The purpose of colonizing Africa and other parts of the world was motivated by the sentiment of greed and material gains of which white man sought most. The colonizers looted and exploited Africa’s minerals to the larger extent they never showed sympathy and remorse for the development of indigenous people of Africa.

Africa was not passive then. There were pockets of resistance?

The Europeans encountered fierce opposition from Africans and they never practised their despicable and obnoxious acts so comfortably. For many centuries, Africans fought so hard for the liberation of the African continent. The fight against inimical colonial rule was both physical and intellectual. The Africans engaged in physical attacks and diplomatic tactics against the intruders. In addition, Europeans never conquered Africa completely; they were unsuccessful to take over Ethiopia and Liberia. In Ethiopia alone, Emperor Menelik inflicted an even greater defeat on the Italians, at Adowa on March 1, 1896, forcing them to capitulate. Subsequently a treaty was signed at Addis Ababa recognizing the absolute sovereign independence of Ethiopia. In South Africa, King Cethswayo of the Zulus humiliated the British in the battle of Isandlwane in 1879. All the wars of resistance that were fought against colonial rule throughout African continent served to promote common vision among the Africans. These wars are part of our history and they inspire Africans to work together for the common vision of African unity among the Africans.

You are a great admirer of Kwame Nkrumah, aren’t you?

In 1957 something colossal took place in Africa Ghana triumphed over British colonial rule. The independence of Ghana as the first country in Africa to gain independence says a lot about the future of the African continent. It sent the message of hope and ever-anticipating dream for the liberation of
African continent from colonial rule. Kwame Nkrumah “Osagyefo” – which means “redeemer” in the Twi language, led Ghana’s independence. Nkrumah was an intellectual and an inspiring lecturer in political science.

Professor Nkrumah when he assumed the role of president never ignored the fact that Ghana “was not free until the rest of the continent became free”. Nkrumah was also perhaps best known politically for his strong commitment to and promotion of Pan- Africanism. Having been inspired by the writings and his relationships with black intellectuals like Marcus Garvey, WEB DuBois and George Padmore, Nkrumah went on to himself inspire and encourage Pan-Africanist positions amongst a number of other African independence leaders such as Edward Okadjian, and activists from the Eli Nrwoku’s African diaspora.