Meet The #Writivism2019 Mentors

If you have been following us on social media, then you know that in the past couple of weeks, we have been unveiling to you our mentors for the year 2019. These are the established African writers who are going to help this year’s longlisted emerging African writers polish their stories and learn a thing or two that they can apply to their writing. If you haven’t been following us on social media, then, presenting this year’s #Writivism2019 mentors….

Rotimi Babatunde’s stories and poems have been published and translated widely. His story Bombay’s Republic was awarded the 2012 Caine Prize for African Writing. The Collected Tricks of Houdini was longlisted for the 2015 Sunday Times/EFG Award, the largest prize for short fiction in the world. His plays have been performed in Europe, Africa and North America. Rotimi Babatunde is a recipient of fellowships from Ledig House, New York; the Bellagio Centre, Italy; and the MacDowell Colony, New Hampshire, among others. He lives in Nigeria.

Leye Adenle, author of the Amaka thriller series and speculative fiction novel, The Beautiful Side of the Moon, is the winner of the first ever Prix Marianne in 2016. His short story, The Assassination, in the anthology, Sunshine Noir, was a finalist for the 2017 CWA short story dagger award. His writing has appeared in several publications and also writes and records for the BBC.

Panashe Chigumadzi was born in Zimbabwe and raised in South Africa. Her debut novel Sweet Medicine (Blackbird Books, 2015) won the 2016 K. Sello Duiker Literary Award. She is the founding editor of Vanguard magazine. A columnist for The New York Times and contributing editor to the Johannesburg Review of Books, her work has featured in titles including The Guardian, Chimurenga, Washington Post and Die Ziet. Her second book, These Bones Will Rise Again, a reflection on Robert Mugabe’s ouster, was published in June 2018 by the Indigo Press. She is a doctoral candidate at Harvard University’s Department of African and African American Studies.

Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀ has written for The New York Times, Wasafiri, Elle, the BBC, The Guardian (UK), Saraba Magazine, Grazia and others. Ayọ̀bámi is the author of Stay With Me, which was shortlisted for the Kwani? Manuscript Project, the Baileys Prize for Women’s Fiction, the Wellcome Book Prize and the 9mobile Prize for Literature. It has also been longlisted for the International Dylan Thomas Prize and the International Dublin Literary Award. It was named a Notable Book of the Year by The New York Times and a Best Book of the Year by The Guardian, The Economist, The Wall Street Journal and others. Stay With Me has been published or is forthcoming in 23 countries and 20 languages.

Rahla Xenopoulos is the author of A Memoir of Love and Madness, and the novels Bubbles and Tribe. Many of her short stories have been published in magazines and in Women Flashing, Twist and Just Keep Breathing. Her latest novel, The Season of Glass, was published to great acclaim in May 2018. She is the mother of triplets and lives in New York.

Nick Makoha: His debut collection Kingdom of Gravity was shortlisted for the 2017 Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection for his debut Kingdom of Gravity and nominated by The Guardian as one of the best books of 2017. He is a Cave Canem Graduate Fellow and Complete Works Alumni. He won the 2015 Brunel International African Poetry prize and is the 2016 winner of the Toi Derricotte & Cornelius Eady Chapbook Prize for his pamphlet Resurrection Man. His poems appeared in The New York Times, Poetry Review, Rialto, Poetry London, Triquarterly Review, Boston Review, Callaloo, and Wasafiri. He is a Creative Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Goldsmiths working to create an in depth online digital archive of the Metic experiences of Black British Writers. He is a Trustee for the Arvon Foundation and The Ministry of Stories and a member of the Malika’s Poetry Kitchen collective. His play The Dark produced by Fuel theatre and directed by JMK award-winner Roy Alexander is on National Tour. He is currently on The Mixtape tour (a theatrical cocktail of performed poems)with writer colleague Roger Robinson promoting Kingdom of Gravity and Roger Robinson’s soon to be released book Portable Paradise. Find him at www.nickmakoha.com

Beatrice Lamwaka is a reporter with Global Press Institute, Vice President : Resource Mobilisation -Ugandan PEN and board member FEMRITE – Uganda Women Writers Association. She was awarded by Uganda Registration Service Bureau for her literary contributions in 2018. She is a recipient of the 2011 Young Achievers Award, was shortlisted for the 2015 Morland Writing Scholarship and the 2011 Caine Prize for African Writing, and was a finalist for the 2009 South African PEN/Studzinski Literary Award. The anthology of short stories, Queer Africa (2013), to which she contributed, won the 26th Lambda Literary Award in 2014. Her children’s novella, Anena’s Victory is a supplementary reader in primary schools. She has participated in Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center Residency (Italy), Le Chateau de Lavigny International Writers’ Residence (Switzerland), Femrite’s Regional Writers Residences (Jinja, Kampala and Entebbe) and Caine Prize writer’s workshops (Cameroon and South Africa). Her stories have been translated into Spanish and Italian. She is working on her novel, NyapaRosa.

Angela Kintu Rwabose is a writer, editor and columnist for several publications in Uganda and Kenya. She spent the bulk of her employed life as a sub Editor and radio producer with Vision Group, Uganda’s largest media house, where she mentored and trained reporters for both print and radio journalism. She now likes to think of herself as a Christian homemaking writing farmer’s wife and is excited to discover what gems Writivism 2019 will unearth.

Lidudumalingani is an award winning writer, photographer and filmmaker. He is the winner of the Caine Prize for African writing and the Miles Morland Scholarship.

Ukamaka Olisakwe was born and raised in Kano, Nigeria. She authored one novel, Eyes of a Goddess (Piraeus Books LLC, Massachusetts, 2012); and a 100-episode TV series, The Calabash, which aired on DSTV in Africa in 2015/2016. She has had her work appear in the New York Times and on the BBC, as well as been published in Jalada, Saraba, Sentinel Nigeria and Short Story Day Africa. Her awards and fellowships include a Prince Claus Award, an honorary fellowship in Writing from the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa, and a writing residency from City of Asylum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She was selected in 2014 by the Africa39 Project, in celebration of the UNESCO World Book Capital 2014, as one of the continent’s most promising writers under the age of 40. And in 2018, she won the Vermont College of Fine Arts’ Emerging Writer Scholarship.

Dami Ajayi is a poet, short story writer, essayist and medical doctor. His first book of poems, Clinical Blues (WriteHouse Collective, 2014) was shortlisted for the Melita Hume Poetry Prize and longlisted for the Wole Soyinka Literature Prize. His second volume of poems, A Woman’s Body is a Country (Ouida Books, 2017) was selected by Quartz Africa as one of the best books of 2017. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Guardian UK, Chimurenga Chronic, Die Zeit, Jalada Africa, Afreada, Kalahari Review, Bakwa Magazine, Wawa Book Review, OlisaTV, ThisIsLagos, ITCH Magazine and elsewhere.

Barbara Mhangami-Ruwende is a Zimbabwean writer whose work has appeared in the anthology Where to Now (AmaBooks, 2011), on Storytime online literary journal, and in the annual short story Anthology, African Roar, Maple Tree Literary Supplement (MTLS) and Guernica. Her poetry has been published in the anthology Muse for Women, 2013 and African Drum (Diaspora Publishers, 2013). She was a Hedgebrook Writer in Residence in 2014.

JJ BOLA is an established writer and poet of three collections; Elevate (2012), Daughter of the Sun (2014), and WORD (2015). His debut novel, No Place to Call Home, was first published in the UK in 2017. He was one of Spread the Word’s Flight Associates 2017, and a Kit de Waal Scholar for the Birkbeck, University MA in Creative Writing. JJ reads, speaks, workshops and performs all over London/the UK at various universities & festivals such as SOAS, Oxford, Kings College, Glastonbury festival, WOMAD, Cheltenham Literature festival, Africa writes and more. JJ has also made international appearances; Literary Crossroads, Goethe Institute Lagos, Writivism Festival, Kampala, Devos – World Economic Forum, and a number of readings across the United States; Da Poetry Lounge, UCLA, Oakland Poetry Slam, and across Europe.


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