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Emulating Africa's best literary personalities

NORTH West youths who want to emulate South Africa and Africa's best literary personalities should look no further than the school, public or community libraries.

Youths from Tlokwe, Matlosana, Maquassi Hills and Ventersdorp in the Dr Kenneth Kaunda District Municipality in North West, wishing to enter the inaugural DKKDM Know Yourself, Know Your World Literary Competition should know that the best freely available resource is a library.

District mayor Boitumelo Moloi is eager to see as many youths as possible entering the competition. She is confident that the competition will help nurture future literary icons in the form of highly respected local authors Sol Plaatje, Es'kia Mphahlele, Nadine Gordimer, Keorapetse Kgositsile and Nigerian legend Chinua Achebe.

The competition - which is being organised by wRite Associates and is supported by Sowetan, for the Aggrey Klaaste Nation Building Foundation - is inviting poetry and short story entries from aspirant writers aged between 12 and 15, 16 and 20 and those older than 21. The closing date is March 4. Winners will be announced in April.

While the school library is the nearest research site, for those whose schools do no have this resource the alternative is a public or community library. Before you do your research, protocol - as in a set of guidelines or rules - is key.

For the younger set librarians are scary characters. But librarians are the actual navigators, who are there to help and assist you to make your research easier. Where the librarian's scary tag springs from is instances involving library users who are loud and disruptive.

Librarians are our best friends when we are quiet and respectful, when we remember to turn off our cellphones and other electronic entertainment gadgets.

Users also have to note that a library is a place to browse, refer, study or research and not a restaurant, rest room or kindergarten.

Munching loudly on crisps is equal to talking on a cellphone or listening to a radio. It is distractive and disruptive.

Also, bringing children along to an adults only section is problematic, because these days libraries have kiddies' section tiny tots visit under adult supervision.

In terms of research anyone who cannot find their way around a library has to consult a librarian.

If you are the independent type read up as much as you can on poetry or short stories to learn the various writing styles and to gain inspiration to conjure up your own identity.

Good luck.

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