“We try to make sense of the world by creating stories”: Priscillar Matara

Priscillar Matara is a writer and film maker from Botswana. She writes short stories, some of which have been published in anthologies such as Lemon Tea and Other Stories, Flash, Roses for Betty, Bundle of Joy and Other Stories, Botswana Women Write and Waterbirds by the Lakeshore. She is also a 2nd prize winner in the 2018 Poetavango Award for Short Fiction in Botswana and a participant in the 2018 Commonwealth Short Story Workshop in Zambia as well as the Goethe Institute’s Adult Young Fiction Workshop in 2019.


What, if anything, do writers owe to society?

Writers have been described as mirrors for society, that they force society to look closely at itself and to do so honestly, to acknowledge that nobody has a definite idea about what ‘this’ life thing is about. So I guess we could say, writers owe society honesty. But I also believe, writers owe as much to themselves. We try to make sense of the world by creating stories, characters that we assign the lives we think they deserve. And perhaps that is the only way to be honest.

What is the most important thing happening in the Botswana film/TV industry right now?

The most important thing that is happening in the Botswana film/TV is the realisation of how big and universal the industry itself is. Even though locally it is still small, it is very alive and it is refreshing to see people in the industry exploring the opportunities everywhere, particularly Botswana. In addition, it has become clear that traditional methods of broadcast such as the TV programming are no longer sufficient and streaming platforms provide a big space for all in the industry.  

What is a word or turn of phrase that you use time and again in your work, and why does it appeal to you?

When I was younger, I had an unhealthy obsession with the word kaleidoscope. Characters in my short stories always dealt with a ‘kaleidoscope of colour’ one way or another.  I thought it was the height of creativity and made sure I found space for it in any way I could. It was hilarious, actually, because I don’t think I was as versatile with it as it deserved. I still laugh about it.

With the rise of streaming, podcasts and social media content, do you think there is still a place for the radio drama?

I feel there is still a place for radio dramas; perhaps there isn’t much interest locally in writing and producing radio dramas but I still feel it’s still very relevant. Actually, BBC Radio still streams radio dramas so I don’t think radio dramas are going anywhere. In fact, if we are to compare radio and TV drama in terms of expenses, radio will seem like an easier choice because it is relatively cheaper to produce.

What are you currently working on?

I am very excited to be working on an idea for a play. I have never written a play before so I get moments where I second guess myself a lot, but I am pushing forward. The concept is very universal and I can’t wait for the first reading but first the play actually has to happen. Other than that, I am trying to interest a regional television broadcaster in a proposal for a lifestyle show. We can only try.

You can follow Priscillar here and here and check out another interview she did here.


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