He belongs to a breed of skillful wordsmiths who communicate to the public in their mother-tongue. And he has written two collections of Sesotho poetry.
Tseliso Masolane is employed by the Department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation in the Free State as the Assistant-Director at the Sesotho Literature Museum (S.L.M). He is the author of two collections of Sesotho poetry – Bonaka Di Maripa (roughly translated it means Life is Rigmarole), and Ha ke Kgutse (roughly translated it means I will never be Quiet!).
Masolane said: “I write poetry in Sesotho and also in English. But I must say, I am more comfortable when I write poetry in an African language such as Sesotho, which is my mother-tongue. When I write poetry in my own language, I paint pictures with words and I simply express myself on the conditions in my space. I want to teach the people who will have the opportunity to buy the collections of my Sesotho poetry or read my poetry at our libraries. It took me the whole year of 1995 to write the 48 poems in the book, Bonaka Di Maripa.”
In 1997, Masolane approached Vivlia Publishers to publish his poems. “My first attempt to publish my poems through publishing houses was with Vivlia Publishers in 1997 when I gave them the manuscript of my poems. I later learned that the publishers were waiting for finance from the Department of Education. I was afraid if my manuscript stayed with the publishers for a long time, it might get lost. I asked them to return the manuscript to me, and I decided to do self-publishing. I published my first collection of Sesotho poetry in 2012.”
Poems such as Sehopotso: Mofu Lineo Sengoai and “East London” Sehopotso Mofu Maketsi Kotjane, are tributes to the late Lineo Sengoai and the late Maketsi Kotjane. Poems such as Bahale Ba Rona and Bafana Bafana are honouring our heroes and also saluting Bafana Bafana. In this collection of 48 poems there are three sections intended to guide learners, students and young poets.
Masolane said: “The idea is to help the target group of learners and students, those who are learning about Sesotho literature and poetry, and also the students at tertiary level who still need guidance about how to analyse poetry.”
The peculiar power of poetry in its “fine excess” is so great that it has often been called inspired utterance. This adjective attests to the unusual power of poetry at its highest, though it would seem exaggerated to use “inspire” in a theological sense, even if poetry inspires the audience.
In December 2015, Masolane published his second collection of poetry, Ha ke Kgutse. “God blessed me with poetic talent, and between 2013 and 2014 I devoted my time to write 52 thought-provoking poems. One of my aims in publishing the book, is to erase from the minds of some people the misconception that poets are afraid to write about issues that are affecting our lives.”
“The poems in this book allow me to speak my mind without any fear of raising awareness on social issues.”
Pule Lechesa, a literary critic, wrote in a feature, Masolane reincarnates Okigbo (Motswalle Newspaper, 4 March 2016: “He registered this in his second book anthology, Ha ke Kgutse, where he reincarnates the undying spirit of the great late Nigerian poet, Christopher Okigbo (1932-1967), who touched on the same issues, focusing on Nigeria more than fifty years ago in Labyrinths & Path of Thunder. In this poem, Ha ke Kgutse, the poet is clearly not happy with the way men of the cloth comport themselves in the society, the manner in which the leaders treat their subjects, the way men enjoy status of being sugar daddies, or with criminals that terrorise the communities and so forth. He emphasised that for as long as these things are happening, he will position himself as “moral authority…”
Apart from his two collections of Sesotho poetry, what other stuff has Tseliso Masolane published?
As a literary critic he has played an important role by contributing literary essays to the local and national newspapers. Some of the prominent writers in this country who feature in the literary essays are Dr K.P.D. Maphalla, author and poet, and Khotso Nkhatho, author, script-writer and poet.
He has written a literary-essay, Learning From The Best in Free State News, dated 20-26 June 2014. He wrote: “Credit has to be accorded to some of the current writers who still ensure quality and respect for their creativity and well-drafted output that keep drawing masses to their writings. It becomes undisputed fact that Dr K.P.D. Maphalla is one of the best we have today, who wrote powerful classics since 1970 when he was only 15, until today, with the latest published books, such as Palesa Ya Dikgutlwaneng (2013). The craft was mastered when in his book, Tshiu Tseo (1982). Maphalla put his whole heart in that work. The book virtually became the tear-trigger, that most learners kept weeping as they read the book, and many readers could not finish the book, because of the major pain they felt enshrined in the material which spoke and still keeps speaking directly to their hearts…”
On 4-10 July 2014 the Free State News published another interesting literary essay – The Creative Giant In Khotso Nkhatho by Tseliso Masolane. An extract from the article: “I refuse to be like other South Africans who will only sing praise songs when they bid bon voyage to their heroes and heroines at the graveyard. So, I’d rather start now to share with you news of an immensely talent possessed by the quintessential son of Africa, Khotso Nkhatho. This is one gigantic creative icon, yet always humble and soft-spoken. The reason why we never see his name splashed all over the tabloids, could be possibly because he is never the one to boast about his achievements, or the lover of his own voice…”
He is also one of the most sought after programme directors in the country. “I became the programme director at a number of events, including the Writers Workshop on International Literary Day that took place at the Free State Provincial Library Services in Bloemfontein in 2010, with Dr Mongane Wally Serote, Professor Moleleki Moleleki and Professor Nicolass Johannes Lewus and Ms Els de Haan who were guests and presenters, just to name a few,” he recalled.He holds a Junior Primary Teachers Diploma from Tshiya College of Education in Qwaqwa, a Diploma in Education from the University of Pretoria, BA Language & Literature from the University of South Africa. He will finish his studies with a Masters in Creative Writing from the Rhodes University in Grahamstown in 2017. He is also a writer and a producer of TV and film production as a member of the Provincial Creative Writers Cooperative in the Free State. – Flaxman Qoopane