FunDza interviewed 10 Fantastic FunDza Fanz! Meet Motebang…
Motebang Disene has watched as his childhood friends have drifted towards drugs and crime. Far from judging them, he seeks to understand them. Reading has offered insights to better understanding other people – and Motebang is now applying these insights to the community issues around him.

A love for reading ignited

Motebang, 19, lives in a large township in Gauteng – a community that he says is “brought together by sports.” Much of his childhood was spent playing football on the streets but, after breaking his arm, Motebang hung up his football boots and spent more time with his books.

It was in his Grade Nine English class that Motebang’s love for reading was sparked. He was inspired by a book about a young boy going to the city in search of his father. The deeper Motebang got into the book, the more entwined with the boy’s character he became. “I believe books are like people,” Motebang explains. “Once you spend time reading them, the more you understand about them.”

Using books to deepen empathy with others

Reading has “empowered” Motebang to “understand and not judge others”. He explains that he is now more open-minded because books offer him a window into the lives of other people. “Reading is important because you can relate to other people’s stories,” he says. “We can relate to their hopes, dreams, desires and everything else.” 

Many of the young boys that Motebang used to play football with have now turned to drugs and crime. Motebang suspects that unemployment in the area has played a “huge part” in this. Instead of passing the young men off as criminals, Motebang tries to understand what has led the men to be where they are. 

Motebang’s community of Katlehong was affected by the recent looting. Motebang watched as other people quickly judged the looters. This, he says, is an example of judging others’ actions before understanding the cause. “It shows that there’s no understanding. There is such a disconnect between people,” he says. “If we can start trying to understand others, we can address the root of the problem and become a better society.” 

The power of the pen: addressing social problems through writing

As a writer, Motebang focuses on addressing the social issues that his community faces. “I’m into sharing my views and what I think,” he explains. Many people on FunDza have enjoyed his writing and been able to gain an insight into the lives lived by other people. “I am so happy and sometimes shocked when a person says that [my stories] inspire them.”

Although he focuses on writing in English for now, Motebang would like to see more books written and available in Sesotho – his mother tongue. “This would contribute to the growth of the language. The more people read in Sesotho, the more interest there will be and the more people are going to write the books themselves.” 

Staying true to his interests in politics and law, Motebang is currently working his way through Mandy Weiner’s Whistle Blower. 

We asked Motebang:

Why do you like reading on FunDza?
It’s fun and engaging.

When is your favourite time to read on FunDza?
In the afternoon or before I go to sleep.

What’s your favourite thing to read on FunDza or what’s one of the best stories that you have read and why?
I love reading essays and blogs. My favourite story was A Hero Within. It addressed very important topics such as rape. It touched my heart. 

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I enjoy listening to music

To read about the nine other Fanastic FunDza Fanz, click here.