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.
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”
In March 2017 Jalada Africaembarked on its first Mobile Literary and Arts Festival, visiting five countries (Kenya, DRC, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania) and twelve locations (Nairobi, Nakuru, Kisumu, Mombasa Kampala, Kabale, Goma, Kigali, Mwanza, Arusha, Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar). Not only does the range of activities reflected in the programme illustrate the creativity of the visited regions but also demonstrates a comprehensive attempt at inclusivity. From panel discussions to performances to book stalls, there was something for everyone, with particular attention paid to language and orality.
‘I am not African because I was born in Africa but because Africa was born in me’ – Kwame Nkrumah
There is no denying that when Africa is mentioned an image or sense of familiarity hits each and every one of us. Concerns towards the state of Africa transcend fixed geographical contours on the globe, stemming from various global constituencies; those associated with the continent by interest, birth or descent. When speaking of Africa, it is often personal and in fact affective. Continue reading “Who Named the Continent?”
Known writers of Lusophone Africa tend to be descendants of white Portuguese who settled during the eve of colonialism. Their contributions to Lusophone literature, is only matched by their commitment to the anti-colonial struggles. The father of Angolan literature Pepetela, born in Benguela 1941, fought as a member of MPLA and wrote extensively on Angola’s political history. Mia Couto from Mozambique, the runner up for the Man Booker International Prize this year, is known to have suspended his studies to join the ranks of Frelimo during the liberation struggles, as a journalist for the newspaper “Tribuna” in 1974. His book Sleepwalking Land brilliantly explores the Mozambican consciousness in the aftermath of the civil war (1977).
Written by Obinna Udenwe, author of Satans & Shaitans – a conspiracy crime thriller on terrorism, politics and love.
My mother was the one who taught me how to read and write. I was three, four or five years old, I can’t remember – but I remember that I would sit on a small stool in the parlour, place my Macmillan English Course on the centre table, and she would kneel beside me – teaching me how to spell, how to pronounce and form words by merging various letters together. I remember how I would forget easily some words she had thought me and she would ask me to walk round the house, and sing the words aloud: Continue reading “Why African literature: A Writer’s Journey”
Over the past couple of years, I have spent a big chunk of my reading-life, reading and even sometimes re-reading books authored by Africans. This has got nothing to do with me being over-patriotic or too nepotistic but rather in a nutshell as a means of self-rediscovery, or in other words rediscovering my African-ness. The relish with which I jump unto my next book or at an opportunity to buy quality African books at a bargain price has grown fervently if not dramatically with time. The question on why African literature is important, is one that has lingered in the labyrinth of my mind for quite sometime and I find this medium offered by Afrikult. requisite to word my thoughts on this very topic.
My journey towards African literature began with; Homer, Shakespeare Kipling, Conrad, Hemingway and Naipaul. From their works, I found disturbing depictions of Africa and African people. Yet in fitting with the hegemonic cultural trends of my age, I doggedly charted along the English literary canons, hoping to earn the mark of a literary esthete. I learnt of the magnificence of Greek civilisation; arts, politics and science, perused the brilliance and fragility of the Roman Empire and pathologically admired the ‘civilised’ callousness of western powers, especially in the fervent days of colonialism. Continue reading “Why African Literature: In Search of the Self.”