Inspiring a generation: Gaborone Book Festival Trust

All photos courtesy of Press Photo and Gaborone Book Festival Trust

The Gaborone Book Festival Trust was founded in 2017 by Kenanao and Keikantse Phele and organized the first Gaborone Book Festival in 2018. Their mission is to encourage and inspire people of all ages in Gaborone and beyond to read and share the transformative power of reading. In addition to the Festival, the Gaborone Book Festival Trust also hosts monthly book reviews, book nights and a School Outreach Programme.

What drove you to start the Gaborone Book Festival?

We were driven by our love for reading and realizing that Botswana doesn’t have a literary festival. As such we felt obliged to create this multiple tier platform where we can we can highlight the literary works of Batswana and that of other African authors. Furthermore, we wanted to create a legacy of inspiring a generation of readers and writers.

What’s the last book you read that had a profound effect on you?

It’s not the last book but one of the best I have read this year.  It has to be Nanjala Nyabola’s Travelling While Black: Essays Inspired by a Life on the Move. This is not a travel memoir as she sates in the book but it looks at issues of migration and immigration, based on her travels across the world. She discusses these issues in her essays with so much clarity and brilliance. It’s an essential read especially now given how the world of travel, migration and immigration keeps on changing due to Covid-19.

What do you hope to see the Gaborone Book Festival Trust achieving in the next five years?

We want to grow our School Outreach Programme because we have seen the dire need of literary activities in schools especially those in hard to reach places or low income. Furthermore, we want to venture into research in order to know the reading habits of Batswana in order to influence policy at government level and CSR for private organization. They are other book ecosystem places we want to venture into like specialized publishing of certain genres like history. Botswana history is grossly undocumented.

How can people support the Gaborone Book Festival Trust?

Anybody who wants to partner or support us can reach out to us via social media where we are active. Our email is We are always looking for partners and collaborators. And to us, no partnership is small.

We live in the digital age, where we can get all our information and entertainment online. Why do books still matter?

Books will always matter – whether physical or e-books. There is magic and space in books.

You can learn more about the GBF here or here.


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