This month we got to chat with the trailblazing Lineo Segoete (from a safe distance) and learn about how she sees the work she does. This article doesn’t fully capture how ferociously driven and intelligent she is but we know you’ll love reading this as much as we loved creating it.
Segoete describes herself as a storyteller, a creative and an advocate for education who loves children. She has successfully carved a career for herself out of these passions, making it her life’s work to play at the intersection of literature, culture and advocacy in Lesotho.
Early on in our chat, Segoete admits that she doesn’t enjoy talking about herself and would rather shift the spotlight to what she does. If the past decade is anything to go by, her work certainly speaks volumes for itself.
“For me, the work revolves around storytelling, and it takes different forms. It could be creating programs around creativity, collaborating with peers to facilitate dialogue sessions or very specific client-commissioned work. At the end of the day, it is about Basotho youth being empowered through their story.”
Segoete adds that books were a teleportation device and a friend when she was growing up. This is part of why she now strongly advocates for giving children books because they stirred her own curiosity about the world as a kid.
Like many of us, her first books were filled with western-centric stories that are canonical in the world of children’s literature. She chuckles at the memory of her being Chicken Little in her first play in kindergarten before she thoughtfully adds that this was largely due to how our generation’s parents have been taught to essentialize western culture as the standard for development.
She says we can start with the Cinderellas but we must return to literature written about and from the continent because “our children deserve to be exposed to our indigenous knowledge systems as Basotho and Africans.”
Segoete sees the first endeavor that shaped her career as the lifelong project to learn and understand Sesotho orthography, including the history of how the language evolved from early writings to the present, and its potential for the future.
“My research has led me to fascinating discoveries of how worldly Basotho have always been, how we’ve always been influenced by and influenced other cultures and peoples. This scholarship has also been a personal journey to understand myself and my family history,” she says.
Several collaborative projects flow out of this lifelong scholarship. One of these is the alternative curriculum that Segoete develops to help make learning more fun and enjoyable for children. The curriculum imagines an approach to learning and teaching that embraces children’s different abilities and encourages a spirit of creativity.
“It’s for all of us to change the narrative. The doers who do inspite of all our challenges as a nation will change the face of Lesotho.”– Lineo Segoete
Segoete’s passion for curriculum development sparked when she worked for the Literacy Design Collaborative in New York, USA where she discovered how literacy can facilitate cross-disciplinary learning.
The curriculum was born out of Segoete’s research with other scholars in the context of the collective; Another Roadmap for Arts Education and reflections on her own experiences with school in Lesotho.
She partnered with Selemela — a Lesotho-based social enterprise that aims to bridge the gap between education theory and practice — to implement project-based learning initiatives for schools and youth.
Another project that’s keeping Segoete busy right now is the newly-founded Mohloling, a digital series that interrogates policy and current events in a satirical news format.
“Hantle hantle ehlile ke letsema because the project is created by a collective of organizations. It’s the efforts of young people that have come together to do this because it’s important to get young people involved in civics.”
Mohloling was birthed by Ba re e ne e re, The Mokoari Street View and Selemela; the show is a witty blend of critical commentary and pertinent information. Each topic is thoroughly researched and contextualised, the production is crisp and its presentation is accessible ﹘ plus it’s fully bilingual! What’s not to love?
Like the all-round creative that she is, Lineo is learning to write, direct and co-produce the show on the go. All while she continues to co-direct Ba re e ne re Literary Arts, an arts education organisation that promotes critical literacy and creative storytelling in Lesotho. The organisation was founded by Segoete and Zachary Rosen as a tribute to Liepollo Rantekoa who started the Ba re e ne re Literature Festival before she died in 2012.
Since then, the annual literature festivals became a staple on the country’s calendar. The festival is on hiatus right now as the organization is focusing more on its longevity and deeper community engagement, versus the annual once-off events.
What you might not know is that Ba re e ne re Literary Arts also compiled and published Likheleke tsa puo: New writing from Lesotho — an anthology of short stories that Segoete co-edited with Rosen and Makate Maieane. They’ve also regularly hosted national writing competitions, spelling bees, a myriad of workshops and dialogue sessions to their mission.
Segoete is also doing work to promote the access and inclusion of girls in STEM as the secretary general of Gender, Entrepreneurship Empowerment & Media (GEM) institute, of which she is a founding member. For the past five years, the GEM institute has been partnering with local institutions like National Commission for UNESCO, The Hub and the American Corner Maseru to inspire innovation and reach marginalised communities.
“I’m inspired by people who care about people. People that have devoted their time — and even money — to public service,” Segoete says about who her work references.
Beneath her easy-going humour, it’s clear she’s passionate about education from the way she adds teachers to this list, lamenting how they are underpaid, under-resourced and unappreciated.
It’s easy to see how Segoete’s ability to collaborate across disciplines and her commitment to lifelong learning make her a great candidate to grow Ba re e ne re into the literary powerhouse it is today. Coupled with her attentive curiosity about people and their worlds, this also makes her an incredible asset to the Mohloling and GEM Institute teams and a joy to work with otherwise.
Segoete notes that there’s a wave of Basotho creatives who are making a living for themselves off freelance work and adds that she’s proud to be part of that generation.
Segoete’s story is refreshingly inspiring; we know that sharing it makes space for other Basotho to dream wilder — imagining a world where their stories matter, and daring to create it. We’re excited to see where Segoete’s next adventure takes her and we’ll be rooting for her along the way.
Yes, we agree. She’s pretty great. You can see more of her work here: