FOUR African Creative Writing Workshops You MUST Attend

We have one more workshop to close our creative writing workshop season this year. Sitawa Namwalie will facilitate the five day Poetry workshop at a date to be announced. On Friday April 22, 2016, we announced a new prize that we are running. This shows the direction we seem to be taking. Over three years, we have held 15 workshops in 13 African cities. We started in Kampala in 2013 and have gone through Nairobi, Harare, Cape Town, Abuja, Lagos, Johannesburg, Gaborone, Dar es Salaam, Abidjan, Accra, Kinshasa, Dakar and will return to Kampala. It has been a beautiful journey.

The beauty is in the many obstacles and hurdles that have characterized the journey. If we must tell, the total budget for all the 15 workshops we have held is what some single workshops cost elsewhere. We consider our partners, the selfless facilitators and everyone who has made it possible, miracle-workers. Ours is not a model that should be replicated. The idea that a workshop can be held on a budget of USD 250$ is one that shocks us, too!

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2016 Writivism workshop in Dakar, Senegal

We are proud of the fact that over 150 emerging African writers have been given an opportunity to attend our workshops. Half of those have also been mentored through our online support programme. We have launched the Koffi Addo, Abena Korantemaa and Okot P’Bitek prizes for non fiction, oral history and poetry in translation this year. They add to the short story prize we have ran since 2013 to make four. We have also announced a new residency for African writers at Stellenbosch University and will announce one more residency soon.

We are entertaining the idea that between our prizes and workshops, one has added more value to the African literary scene than the other. Our institutional capacity has not allowed us to execute some of our dreams in the most effective way possible. We will be welcoming thoughts and ideas as to the future of our workshops throughout the coming months. In the meantime, we present four amazing workshop opportunities for African writers.

The FEMRITE – African Women Development Fund Non Fiction Workshop

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The Association of Ugandan Women Writers (FEMRITE), in collaboration with the Accra-based African Women’s Development Fund organises the annual Creative Non Fiction workshop for women. The workshop was inaugurated in 2014 and is held in Entebbe, Uganda. Participants read their work at a public event in Uganda’s capital, Kampala during the ten-day workshop. They also interact with readers and writers at the weekly FEMRITE club on a Monday during the workshop period. The stories written during the workshop are collected in an annual anthology series. For more information, check the FEMRITE and AWDF websites regularly.

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Participants at the 2015 AWDF-FEMRITE workshop pose for a photo at a public dialogue (Photo credit: FEMRITE website)

The Kwani Trust Workshops

The Kwani Trust was established in 2003 as a literary network. The organisation runs different workshops for fiction, non-fiction and poetry. Some of the workshops feed into the Kwani? Journal. The eligibility requirements vary depending on the particular purpose of each workshop. Some of the workshops have been held in Nairobi and others in other cities such as Mombasa. Calls for application are posted at the Kwani website.

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The Farafina Trust Creative Writing Workshop

The Farafina Trust Creative Writing workshop takes place annually in Lagos, Nigeria. It is facilitated by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Binyanvanga Wainaina and other writers. The workshop is organised by Farafina Trust, a non profit arm of the Farafina Kachifo publishing company. The workshop is sponsored by Nigerian Breweries Plc among others. Notable alumni of the workshop include writers Yewande Omotoso, Novuyo Rosa Tshuma, Elnathan John, Chika Oduah, Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah, Pemi Aguda, Akwaeke Emezi among others. The 2016 workshop application is open at the moment. See details here.

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The Caine Prize Workshop

One of the oldest workshops for African writers, the Caine Prize workshop is held in a different African country each year. This year’s was held in Lusaka, Zambia. The workshop brings together African writers picked from the pool of short stories entered for the Prize every year and selected writers from the country where it is hosted. Shortlisted writers and past winners also attend. Many notable names in contemporary African writing have attended the workshop, from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Binyavanga Wainaina, to NoViolet Bulawayo among others. Stories from the workshop are published in the annual Caine Prize anthology alongside the shortlisted stories for that year. Find more details at the Caine Prize website.

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Participants and facilitators at the 2016 Caine Prize Workshop in Lusaka, Zambia (Photo credit: Caine Prize website)

These four creative writing workshops are run by institutions that are much older and far stronger than the Centre for African Cultural Excellence. They are much better organised than our own and we unreservedly recommend them to emerging African writers. If we decide in the future to continue running creative writing workshops, they are the standard on which we would love to be measured.

This list is however not exhaustive. There are more workshops for African writers on the continent. We have picked the above to highlight the depth, quality and important contribution they make to the African literary scene. It is also important to mention a model that is quickly becoming attractive in East Africa. Jackee Batanda, through her Success Spark Brand company has been holding paid writing masterclasses, one-day workshops and weekend-long retreats in Kampala. Zukiswa Wanner has also launched a paid workshop in Kenya. This is a model that Writivism could consider.

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An advert for a forthcoming writing retreat organised by Success Spark Brand (source: Jackee Batanda)

Send us your thoughts at info@writivism.com. After the 4th Writivism Festival in Kampala, and wide consultations, we shall announce the  decision that the Board of Trustees will reach on the matter. Best of luck if you choose to apply to one of the above workshops.

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