When the concept of creating a platform that shared African literature and promoted African writers first planted its seed in my mind, I had no idea where or what this thing would be. It was through sheer imagination and bouncing ideas off Henry and Zaahida that Afrikult. was then born. The name, as I had imagined it, would encapsulate ‘Afrika’ and ‘culture’. We liked the aesthetics of having the ‘k’ and the full stop (.) to give Afrikult. the distinctive branding we hoped for.
We knew we wanted this platform to serve the African literary community, to foster engagement in ways we craved for back then post-Masters degree. We wanted the conversations particularly around language and translation to move beyond the academic walls to our dining tables, our social media, adopting inclusive language and not the academic tone which had the tendency to exclude others. This, for me, was especially important in creating a space of inclusivity and garnering excitement around the topic. No matter your background or academic ability, your opinion and desire to learn and explore with us was equally powerful and important too.
We developed from being solely a virtual space to inflitrating the physical to deliver workshops at festivals and at schools. This continues to be integral in our work, helping us to fulfil an important mission for us: widening access to African literatures. We are humbled and encouraged by witnessing Afrikult.’s growth (and ours’, individually and collectively), knowing that there are more promising feats for the organisation’s future. Happy 5th birthday Afrikult.!
There are many highlights for me, and to keep it brief (and through pictures) my top four treasured memories of Afrikult. are:
- Videoing our campaign for Impact competition
- Launching Words that Travel series
- Launching our workshops at UK festivals and in schools
- Delivering workshops in Uganda, Ghana and Nigeria
- Working in a team passionate about the same thing
One of my highlights has been working with people (Marcelle and Henry) that love talking about literature as much as I do and value its importance. This shared love for literature wasn’t really surprising given that we met whilst all studying on the same module ‘Literature in African Languages’ during our MA’s at SOAS. The highlight was that we were able to take our conversations beyond the classroom and think about building something together that we all cared about. I love working in a team as no one will necessarily see things or tackle a problem the same way, which means you have a rich selection of perspectives which can only make your work stronger, and because we got along, this was one of our strengths in being able to establish Afrikult. in the first place!
2. Sharing knowledge with young people in schools but also people just generally interested in literature from Africa
Taking all our combined years of studying and experience and pouring it into our workshops has been and will always be a major highlight for me. There is something so special about being in a position to teach people new things that you know they won’t forget, things that can play a formative role in shaping particularly young people into who they want to be. So for me all our work with schools is particularly fulfilling because of this.
3. Doing our own thing[s] and building important structural relationships
Another aspect of our work that I really enjoy is that we have basically turned a hobby into meaningful work, and have been able to develop as an organisation (as well as individuals), gaining significant experience over the last 5 years. I particularly value the relationships we have been able to make with organisations we are really inspired by. Africa Writes will always have a special place in my heart for giving us our first platform back in 2014 and supporting ever since!
4. My fourth highlight would be taking silly/funny selfies with Keren and Marcelle, and then trying to do serious ones!
Working at Afrikult. has been a very inspiring and enriching experience. Here are my four highlights:
- Working with Marcelle and Zaahida and seeing how devoted they are in spreading the word on African literature.
- Having the opportunity to attend events and meet inspiring writers and people passionate about African literature as well as learning about literary platforms and organisations.
- The three of us being in Accra for Pa Gya!
- Always learning new things and being amazed at the richness of the African literary scene.