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Moso Sematlane is the author of ‘Tetra Hydra Cannabinol’ which was shortlisted for the 2021 Commonwealth Short Story Prize.

The young writer and filmmaker based between Maseru, Lesotho, and Johannesburg has been published in Nat Brut and he is currently an Assistant Editor at Lolwe Magazine.

The Interview With Moso Sematlane:

It is the middle of winter season in Lesotho and everyone is wearing heavy clothes.

So how do you feel about being one of those shortlisted for 2021 Commonwealth Short Story Prize?

I feel pretty much in shock still. It hasn’t really sunk in. I’ve written for so long without any attention paid to my work on a grand scale such as this one, so it feels very validating to have a short story selected amongst so many submissions.

Can you tell us more about Tetra Hydra Cannabinol?

Tetra Hydro Cannabinol is about a young boy in a small village in Lesotho who is forced to grapple with the arrival of a medical marijuana company there. Over time, the arrival of the company starts to affect everyone in the village, including him, to the point where water becomes inaccessible to them because the company is using it to grow cannabis. It is here that his journey starts.

Writers sometimes battle with getting inspiration. What has been the motivation behind this story?

As far as inspiration goes, it helped that these were events that were occuring in Lesotho already. Over the last couple of years, a lot of medical marijuana companies have started growing here for export overseas, so it has been something in the cultural climate for a while now.

I always write from a really reactionary place. So my attempts to write are always inspired by a desire to make sense of the world around me, whether it’s on a grand political scale, or an even smaller one such as my day to day life and all its tribulations and joys.

When did you discover your passion for writing?

It came from reading. I always say I’m a reader first and a writer second. But I remember at 13 years old making a really conscious decision to write seriously with the intent to publish, but telling stories is always something I’ve always been passionate about.

I remember being quite young and drawing all these characters and putting them in scenarios, so the passion for telling stories has always been there.

What were the challenges encountered?

Growing up in Lesotho, there aren’t isn’t any infrastructure set up to make any sort of living in the arts. So that is a major challenge me and many other artists still encounter today.

Which one African writer would you say has influenced you?

Thomas Mofolo influenced me the most. Reading his book Chaka really opened up the possibility that something can still be literary and still entertain at a very high level.

Looking at the journey into limelight, what advice do you have for young writers like you?

🙂 not too sure about limelight, but the advice I would give is to keep writing and keep reading as much as you can. And really try to figure out what it is that makes you as a person unique. Every story has already been told before, but your personal and unique experience as a storyteller and human being on this earth  is what will make it stand out.

Thank you very much for speaking to us, Moso Sematlane.

Thank you so much. It has been a pleasure 🙂

By Elijah Christopher

Elijah Christopher

Elijah Christopher is a journalist at A New Touch Of Africa, is also a creative writer, a poet, and an IT enthusiast. He contributed to the collaborative poem written in celebration of Edwin Morgan Centenary, the first Glasgow poet laureate and Scottish national poet from the University of Glasgow. He loves meeting people and learning about new places, cultures, events, and lifestyles.