The Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2021: an interview with Moso Sematlane from Lesotho

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Photo of Moso Sematlane: https://www.commonwealthwriters.org/2021-commonwealth-short-story-prize-shortlist/

The Commonwealth Short Story Prize is awarded annually for the best piece of unpublished short fiction from any of the Commonwealth’s 54 member states.

Here is more information on the competition and the shortlist of this year: https://www.litnet.co.za/press-release-2021-commonwealth-short-story-prize-shortlist-announced/.

Moso Sematlane from Lesotho talks to Naomi Meyer about his shortlisted story, Tetra hydro cannabinol.

Congratulations on your short story, nominated for this year’s Commonwealth Short Story Prize! Would you please tell me what your story is about and what inspired you to write your story?

The story is about a young boy who has to grapple with the changes a medical marijuana company causes in his village. It was inspired by the recent arrival of foreign medical marijuana companies in Lesotho.

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It was inspired by the recent arrival of foreign medical marijuana companies in Lesotho.

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It was possible to take part in this competition in other languages besides English (entries could be submitted in Bengali, Chinese, French, Greek, Malay, Portuguese, Samoan, Swahili, Tamil and Turkish). Tell me about the language you used for your entry. Did you write in your home language? If you wrote in English, do you think the language you speak at home was reflected in the English that you used? Speak to me about the language you used as the tool for your writing.

The story uses a mixture of English and Sesotho throughout. I found that it was easy for me to write in this way, because I use the two languages daily to interact in my home life, and in writing this story I was interested in exploring the tension or harmony between the languages.

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The story uses a mixture of English and Sesotho throughout. I found that it was easy for me to write in this way, because I use the two languages daily to interact in my home life, and in writing this story I was interested in exploring the tension or harmony between the languages.

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What did this nomination mean to you, and what are your writing dreams for the future?

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Being nominated meant that hopefully other writers from Lesotho can put their art out on global stages such as this one.

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Being nominated meant that hopefully other writers from Lesotho can put their art out on global stages such as this one. It also gave me an audience for my writing that I didn’t have before. I do hope to publish either a novel or a story collection in the future, but until then, I’m always writing.

Also read: 

The Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2021: an interview with Franklyn Usouwa from Nigeria

The Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2021: an interview with Ola W Halim from Nigeria

The Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2021: an interview with Rémy Ngamije from Namibia

The Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2021: an interview with Vincent Anioke from Nigeria

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