We are now a month into 2018 and now seems a good time as any to announce the 2018 Writivism Festival dates. The 6th edition of Uganda’s top literary festival will take place between August 17th and 19th, 2018 in Kampala. Following last year’s festival where we celebrated our fifth anniversary and the triumphs of the foundational years, the 2018 festival will act as an opportunity to consolidate gains and set the tone for the next 5 years of Writivism. Preparations are already underway and the festival theme will be announced in April 2018.
There is a new management that is in charge of the festival and other programmes of the Writivism Literary Initiative. Since September, 2017, Mr. Roland Byagaba, has been working as a sole Director of the initiative. Byagaba is the founder of Muwado, a social networking platform with a focus on Africa. He has worked with Writivism since 2014: first as a volunteer, independent contractor, part-time staff and most recently, head of logistics. He’ll curate the festival.
Mr. Byagaba is known for his community-building skills and a deep interest in the expansion of readerships on the African continent. He will be assisted by Esther Mirembe, as editor, and Ann Nakidde in the accounts department. Other staffers on a part-time basis include Patricia Tusuubira, Jacob Katumusiime, Charlotte Akello, and Elizabeth Awori.
The changes at Writivism come in the wake of the initiative’s new five-year plan under which they will continue running two literary prizes, an online mentoring programme, school outreach activities, holding an annual festival, and a writers’ residency. Publishing of annual anthologies will be done in collaboration with independent publishers. All print anthologies will be published by Black Letter Media while digital ones will be published in collaboration with a different African online literary magazine every year. The Arts Management and Literary Activism (AMLA) workshop and mentoring, a collaboration with University of Bristol will be run separately from Writivism.
The Byagaba team started their tenure with a successful film premiere of #TheRealWriters, a documentary on the rise of creative writing on social media, at Storymoja festival in Nairobi, Kenya. The documentary will be screened at various universities in the United Kingdom in April, 2018.
The submission window for the 2018 fiction and nonfiction Writivism prizes opened in December 2017 and the judges were announced in January 2018. The deadline for submissions to the 2018 Writivism Prizes is 31 March 2018 and submission guidelines can be found here for fiction and here for nonfiction. Unpublished emerging writers based in an African country are encouraged to submit original fiction/nonfiction stories for the 500$ each, prizes.
Byagaba’s team of three full-time staff members will be guided by a Council of Advisors comprising Henry Brefo, Sumayya Lee, Edwige Dro, Emmanuel Sigauke, Joy Mogami Gaamangwe, Joschua Rukundo, and Deborah Asiimwe. The supreme policy-making organ of the initiative remains the Board of Trustees comprising Lizzy Atrree, Nii Ayikwei Parkes, EC Osondu, Chika Unigwe and NoViolet Bulawayo.
“We have built a close family over five years, of enthusiasts and practitioners of African literature and my task will be to consolidate these achievements and grow our community. We will remain steadfast in upholding our values as an initiative and I will protect jealously the openness to, freedom of and safety for all individuals engaged in our programmes. The implementation of our existing anti-sexual harassment and anti-plagiarism policies is my priority,” Byagaba said.
The Writivism Literary Initiative was started in 2012 to support emerging writers based in African countries and promote African literature. It is headquartered in Kampala and awards two annual prizes for short fiction and nonfiction besides holding Uganda’s leading annual literary festival in Kampala. Over 200 emerging writers have attended its creative writing workshops and online mentoring programme. The initiative has so far published seven anthologies of short fiction, non-fiction and poetry.