Hanna Ali is set to take the literary scene by storm with her dreamlike prose in her debut publication, “Sheekadii Noloshayada” / The Story of Us, a collection of four short stories published in Somali. Ali is the first contemporary writer to publish her debut in the Somali language as both in audio and e-book format. Hanna’s works have been described to accurately capture the unspoken tensions, hopes and wishes of displaced people. The unique, singular stories gently wrap themselves around your mind like your favourite melancholic song. Hanna truly shows: where there is pain, there is beauty. We got to review the English language version of her collection.
With lyrical flair, Peter Kimani whisks the reader on a journey of the Iron Snake railway as it travels from the coast and cuts through dense forestry. The advent of the railway is the advent of Kenya’s colonisation, which beckons indentured labourers from India to its shores, a country also currently colonised by the British. In its complicated tracks, Kimani masterfully lays one story of Kenya’s history, probing ideas of national identity and belonging, and love lost through the beginnings of the Lunatic Express to the Big Man leading the country towards her independence. Continue reading “Bite-size Review: Dance of the Jakaranda | Peter Kimani”
Born in Germany, raised in Nigeria and educated in the UK, Gersy Ifeanyi Ejimofo is founder of Digitalback Books, a virtual library platform offering a comprehensive and diverse collection of African stories from around the world. The seed of DBB was planted many years ago when Heinemann announced the discontinuation of the African Writers Series. Recognising that Africans both on the continent and in the Diaspora need to take a more proactive approach to their creative content, Gersy left her career in the city to gain more hands on experience in the publishing industry. She has since worked on many digital projects for global publishers developing and implementing digital strategies internationally. Gersy has a BSc from the University of Birmingham and a Masters from the London School of Economics.
Sumayya Lee was born and raised in Durban, South Africa. She has worked as an Islamic Studies teacher, Montessori Directress and Teacher of English as a Foreign Language. Her debut, The Story of Maha (Kwela, 2007) was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Book – Africa and Longlisted for the Sunday Times Fiction Award. It is currently on the undergraduate Curriculum at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal. Her second novel, Maha, Ever After was published by Kwela in 2009. She has also been a judge for the Young Muslim Writers Awards, for the past five years. Sumayya has been a mentor on the Writivism programme and has judged the annual Writivism Short Story Prize She currently serves as the Writivism Mentoring and Residencies coordinator.
William Du Bois is a poet, performer and the lead member of Trotro Vibes, a group of performers who ‘bring art to the everyday people’. In fact, the artists’ mobile performance of songs and poetry is inspired by Ghana’s most used public transportation: Trotro. Their aim is to educate, inform, advocate and entertain commuters who use this mean of transportation.
Chiziterem Ndukwe-Nwoke is a 23 years old Nigerian writer, literary entrepreneur, and a graduate of Petroleum Engineering from Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Nigeria. He is the founder of Route Africa, a non-profit non-governmental organization that gathers a collective of student writers whose primary goal is to empower each other and contribute to Africa’s literary scene worldwide.
‘In Creative Fiction, We See What Others Don’t’ – Lawrence Amaeshi
Lawrence Amaeshi is presently a student of Novel Writing in Stanford University, USA and in this conversation we try to explore in-depth the ideas behind the story, the structure and his style of writing.
In this book that could be described as many things but best regarded as a crime thriller, Bruce Telema, a young man who has recently lost his job and now works selling technical filter replacement kits to oil companies based in the Niger Delta, is approached by Steve, a representative of a high calibre network of oil criminals, skilled in the siphoning of oil from government pipelines using armed militants and selling the stolen oil to ‘the highest bidder’ in the international market. Bruce is offered the opportunity of representing the interests of this organization based in London – he is to be their point man, with the responsibility of travelling to the Niger Delta creeks to negotiate for oil from militants, villagers who have scooped oil from burst pipes, various local illegal refineries, and helping the network deliver these products to their clients. Bruce Telema is promised ‘wealth beyond his wildest imagination’ and yes, he gets into this business and soon begins to make lots of money, living an exotic ‘fast life’. However, soon rival militant groups, security operatives and even his own network place a price tag on his head.
I am reminded of six years ago. I had just flown into Johannesburg from Kampala. I was in Johannesburg to do a screen test for a TV series about Botswana. Before the screen test was over I had already landed one of the lead roles. Of course I was elated, mostly because even though I was enjoying an award-winning acting career on-Broadway and off-Broadway in New York City, I still had the firm desire to do something at home. A week later I was in Gaborone, script in hand, and ready to film. Then an email from the series producers popped up on my phone saying that after “much careful thought and consideration” I had been dropped from the production for “not looking African enough.” The news was more infuriating than disappointing. I found myself wishing they had told me that I had been dropped because I had not been a good enough actor during the screen tests, or that I was asking for too much money. But to say that I did not fulfil some British self-styled Africanist director’s zoological notion of what an African looks like was to abuse even my ancestors. I tell you, Upright African, you and I must write and perform many-many stories about the Africa we know where my perfect teeth are not remarkable.
Beatrice Lamwaka (born and raised in Alokolum, Gulu) is a Ugandan writer. She was shortlisted for the 2011 Caine Prize for her story “Butterfly Dreams”. She is the founder and director of the Arts Therapy Foundation,[a non-profit organisation that provides psychological and emotional support through creative arts therapies. She is the general secretary of PEN Uganda Chapter and an executive member of the Uganda Reproduction Rights Organisation (URRO). She has served on the executive board of the Uganda Women Writers Association (FEMRITE), where she has been a member since 1998. Lamwaka’s writing has been translated into Spanish and Italian; she released her anthology of short stories Butterfly Dreams and Other Stories in 2016. Continue reading “Interview with Beatrice Lamwaka on Butterfly Dreams and Other Stories”
FEMRITE has been described as one of ‘the most organised literary initiatives in Africa promoting female authorship’ and we are inclined to agree. As a non-profit publisher of fiction and creative non-fiction, FEMRITE champions Ugandan women writers with their literary nurturing. Founded in 1996 by female academics and students lead by Mary Karooro Okurut at Makerere University, the organisation provides writers workshops, editorial services, training, writers residencies and a resource centre with space to work in. It supports young writers and encourages reading for pleasure; Continue reading “FEMRITE @ 20: A Cornerstone of Ugandan Literature”