We recently began to ask ourselves questions about what it means that our prizes are only open to writers living on the continent. Our argument has always been that we do not have enough opportunities for writers on the continent. And it is true. But what does this mean for our definition of ourselves as pan African? What does it mean that we accept stories of white South Africans because they live on the continent and not those of our kindred who live outside? Panashe Chigumadzi has detailed this in a beautiful long sermon, “Why I’m no longer talking to Nigerians about race”, on Africa is a country. Reading it felt reminiscent of a believer who goes to church with something weighing heavy on them. The pastor names exactly how the weight has been bearing upon you, and everything you need to hear. If you are overzealous, you lift the chair you are seated on and shout “Amen!”.
And so, UnBreakable Bonds is our altar call.
The theme for this year’s Writivism activities is “UnBreakable Bonds”. We hope that we are not only defining the unbreakable bonds of our shared and varied Blacknesses across continents but also, the unbreakable bonds between fiction and nonfiction; the unbreakable bonds across generations of African thinkers; the unbreakable bonds between art forms: literature, photography; the unbreakable bonds between the rural and the urban, the unbreakable bonds in the presentation of art: books, exhibitions, podcasts; and what holds it all together: the will, the urge, the yearning to create and imagine worlds, possibilities or really to present it as it is. All of this is captured so tightly and perfectly in Solange’s “Can I Hold the Mic” interlude on When I Get Home.
The Writivism Literary Initiative involves six major elements in our annual programme, namely: Prizes, Mentoring, Publishing, Residencies, Festival, and Outreach. For the 2019 year, a partnership with 2 Girls and a Pod adds a seventh element to the programme, i.e. podcasts as part of our new Arts new Audiences collaboration funded by the British Council.
The 2019 longlisted writers have been mentored by our favorite writers and the shortlists for the Koffi Addo Prize for Creative Nonfiction and the Writivism Short Story Prize will be announced on May 15. These longlisted stories will be published in our 2019 annual anthology.
We are excited to publish “UnBreakable Bonds”, an anthology of fiction, photography and nonfiction from Eastern Africa and the UK diaspora this very month. The anthology is edited by Bwesigye Bwa Mwesigire, Esther Mirembe and Sumayya Lee. It will be launched at Bare Lit Festival this weekend. This anthology is also part of the activities funded by the British Council nAnA grant.
We have a backlog of annual anthologies emerging from our prizes from 2017 and 2018, that we are working on to publish this year. We will also host two or more of the previous winners of our prizes at Stellenbosch University in South Africa for a month of editing a draft manuscript. Our outreach activities include a new prize for primary and secondary school going youth in South Western Uganda, literature seminars for high school students who study in and around Kampala, visits to hospitals and markets during the festival week.
Our own annual festival will take place between 15-17 August, 2019 in Kampala. We look forward to hosting you.
For more information, send us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org