Portrait of a budding writer

Bongani Gerald Malunga is the youngest local newspaper Sports Editor.

He started his journalism career in 2012 at The Botswana Gazette and after two years he became the Sports Editor at the age of 25.

Last year Malunga w published a book based on why an African team may never win the world cup and why they may not win it anytime soon.

The book explains why the continent’s drought looks set to continue in the global showpiece.

It explores numerous factors that have played a role in many teams’ struggles and gives a detailed picture of behind the scenes occurrences that have derailed some of Africa’s greatest teams in their quest for global dominance.

The 29-year-old Francistown born journalist had a chat with our reporter Portia Mlilo about his book and his career journey.

Q. What inspired you to write a book?

A. I grew up following football.

I have always been a fan of the biggest competition, which is World Cup.

I watched world cup in 1998 and I asked myself why African teams are not doing better.

As time went on I developed interest in what is going on behind the scenes.

I studied the teams’ performance and in 2014 I wrote an article in our newspaper titled ‘Why an African Team will Never Win the World Cup’.

I got a positive feedback although some people argued that it was not a news piece but an opinion, so I decided to edit it and publish it in a book form two years later.

Q. When did you develop interest in writing?

A. At an early age.

As I watched football matches I used to steal my mother’s diary and write about players’ performance.

She still has old diaries with players’ profiles I wrote.

As time went on I realized that football is not all about what we see on the pitch but there are lot of things that contribute to success or failure of a team.

When I finished my form five at Francistown Senior I decided to study Journalism and Media.

Q. Who is your target audience?

A. Anyone who can read. A football fan or those who do not like football and those who want to know about the sport.

Football is a popular sport and most of the people watch world cup and they always analyze especially when African countries are knocked out at an early stage.

Q. What impact do you think the book will have?

A. It will have a great impact in the sense that it sparks conversation of what African teams are doing wrong and what do we need to correct.

I do not want people to think I am criticizing our teams when they read the book title.

Q. How difficult or easy was it to write this book?

A. I started writing this book in 2016 and I really struggled because I did not have motivation.

I had self-doubt.

I asked myself if people are going to be interested and who would read it and those were my fears.

I told myself I am a football fan, I understand the game and that qualifies me to write about it.

The easy part was that I am a writer and I have writing experience.

I decided to divide the book into chapters and set targets, which made it easy.

In life no one is born an expert, you adapt and excel because of your passion.

Q. Don’t you think it was necessary to interview football players who once played at the world cup or coaches?

A. I wanted to do that and it was very difficult to reach out to those coaches and players.

I sent emails and never got responses probably because they didn’t know me or they were simply wondering would a Motswana be interested in world cup while his country has never qualified.

(He laughs). They would have shed more light.

Instead of giving up I managed to do online research just to add more to the book.

Q. How did you balance your work and writing a book?

A. It was not easy.

I was supposed to cover football games during weekends and that was the time I had to write my book.

I skipped a lot of games but I made sure it didn’t affect my work performance.

It took away the little time I had to spend with my wife and kids.

I made them understand that it was a sacrifice that would benefit us all.

Q. The book has been published for months, how is the response from your readers?

A. The response is overwhelming.

I sell the book directly to my customers because bookstores wont make a decision to stock my book because decision makers are in South Africa.

I found someone in South Africa selling the book and mostly football players and other journalists buy it.

I have been marketing the book through social media; I have sent orders to UK, southern Africa countries and this week I will be sending books to New York.

I published this book independently and not through the publisher because I want to interact with my readers and get them to understand what it is all about before buying.

The book retails at P200 a copy.

Q. Would your book still be relevant if an African country wins the next World Cup?

A. (He laughs). That would give me a reason to write another book.

I am not saying it will never happen.

The book looks at our teams’ history and what made us not to win the cup.

It is not like we do not have talent, we have produced the best players like Samuel Eto’o, Sadio Mane among others.

What we need to pay much attention to our development then our preparations for the qualifiers.

Q. What makes a good writer?

A. Passion, sacrifice and consistency. You have to love writing because it is not that simple.

We put a lot of thought into every story we write.

Our job is the most difficult one.

Every day you have to come up with something new and be creative to meet the deadline.

Q. What have been some of the lows and highlights of your career?

A. Publishing this book is one of my greatest achievements.

Being an editor at a young age was also an achievement and it has really helped me to grow personally and professionally.

I have been nominated for MISA sports awards, Coca Cola and Mascom top 8.

I have never won an award as a journalist but I believe it shall happen one day.

Low lights would articles I have written cause misunderstandings.

I have created a lot of enemies and some even recommended to my bosses that I should be fired but people should understand that the media is a watchdog.

Q. Who is your inspiration?

A. I draw a lot of inspiration from my family, Trevor Noah and Mqondisi Dube.

I am from a family of 13 children and our parents raised us well, managed to pay for our school fees so they inspired me.

Noah did not have any experience but someone took a chance on him and he landed a good opportunity at the Daily Show.

He proved that there are no boundaries in life no matter where you come from.

Dube is one person who is always willing to help and he edited my book.

Apart from that the flair he brings to his sports writing is different from some of us, so I look up to him.

Q. What advice can you give to aspiring writers?

A. Anyone is capable of writing that is the first thing we are taught at school.

Everyone has a story to tell.

You also have to read other people’s work and that will guide and inspire you.

Before writing this book I read Kagiso Madibana and Rorisang Mogojwe’s books.

Q. Thank God it’s Friday. What are your plans for the weekend?

A. I will be covering Mascom Top 8 semi finals.. For the first time my wife is interested in watching Rollers and Gaborone United match on Sunday so I will be going with her.

I also like cooking so weekends I prepare delicious meals for my family.

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