Learner publishes first poems anthology


Maricelle Botha

Bloemfontein born Matseliso Tlelai, recently published her first anthology of poems titled Poems by Tsili. Tlelai is currently a Grade 12 learner at St Stithians College in Johannesburg. What makes the publishing of this book even more impressive is the fact that Tlelai decided to donate the proceeds of this literary work to students who are studying towards becoming Chartered Accountants via the Thuthuka Bursary Fund (TBF). Thuthuka facilitates the journey of disadvantaged black and coloured students hoping to qualify as Chartered Accountants [CAs(SA)], thereby contributing to transformation and growth within this sector. It is a fund for accounting students and ensures that students receive experienced mentorship and additional lectures. It helps them bridge the gap between high school and university, and between university and the world of work.

Tlelai started writing poetry in 2009 after the loss of her uncle Temba. Ironically, she did not know him well and when she did fleetingly interact with him, his story made such an impact on her that when he died, she wrote a poem. She showed it to her teacher, Ruth Everson, who encouraged her on her journey of poetry writing and in publishing the anthology. This 17-year-old uses poetry as a mechanism to express her feelings and to document her life experiences.

Touched by her words, former president Thabo Mbeki has written the Preface to Matseliso’s anthology. “When I met former South African President, Thabo Mbeki, I was honoured but intimidated at first. However, when we engaged in a serious discussion on the definition of poetry, I felt at ease and the thoughts flowed and many ideas germinated instantly. It was an exhilarating experience. The cherry on top was when he agreed to write the preface to my anthology.”

Tlelai tells after listening to her dad who attended an evening dinner where the TBF was presented, she decided to contribute to this noble cause. “I am therefore donating all the proceeds of the book to the TBF, with the aim of supporting three students annually.”