It seems like it’s all going down in the African literature calendar in September. Apart from the Open Books and the Storymojas, there are many other events that don’t have the same amount of interest but have personalities that we can’t ignore. Take for instance the 3rd African Women Writers which is set to happen for two days from 17th – 19th September at the Joburg Fringe Theatre. That’s tomorrow Thursday to Saturday.
The beauty of this symposium isn’t just the invited guests who are as high profile as it gets where African literature is concerned. The theme ‘Looking back, looking forward: Heritage, Turmoil, and Transformation – Asserting African Women In The World’ promises to explore some of the border-breaking questions around writing in Africa.
The keynote address at the Opening Plenary Session on Thursday, 17th September, will be by American bestselling author Sapphire, who will unpack positional topics around the role of art and being an African woman in the world. Sapphire is well known for her bestselling novel ‘Push’, which was adapted for Academy Award-winning film ‘Precious’. There will be a special screening of the movie followed by a rare Q & A with the author of the book, Sapphire, and Khosi Zwane Siguqa (Drum Magazine Editor).
On Friday 18 September, a must-attend session is titled “The Drum is a Woman, Celebrating the Life’s Work of Jayne Cortez” featuring friends and familial speakers such as husband Mel Edwards (USA), son Dernado Coleman (USA), and close friends Linton Kwesi Johnson (UK) and Keorapetsi Kgositsile (SA). This is an unmissable event as African Women Poets Sapphire, Natalia Molebatsi (SA), Myesha Jenkins (US/SA), Kadija Sessay (UK/Sierra Leone), and various others including Afro Latino writers/poets, John Murillo (USA), will give poetic tributes to Cortez and her work.
On Saturday, 19 September a highlight will also be “Writing history, writing fiction – interconnections and elisions” as the truth around fiction is interrogated by speakers; Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor (Kenya), Molara Wood (Nigeria) and Rehana Rossouw (SA), chaired by CA Davids (SA).
This will be followed by the second session of the day, “Between violence and peace – narrating the conditions of Africans in the world”, which will be chaired by Nomboniso Gasa (SA) and features speakers, Mmatshilo Motsei (SA), Kadija Sessay (UK/Sierra Leone) and Zukiswa Wanner (SA/Kenya). At 2.30 pm the theme shifts towards “Choosing poetry, choosing hope – Asserting the voice of poetry and its transformative power in our lives” facilitated by John Murillo including Barbara Schreiner (SA) Myesha Jenkins (USA/SA) and Khosi Xaba (SA) as speakers.
The last session of the day sees a special evening plenary session titled Inaugural Nadine Gordimer: In Memorium Lecture: On Literature and Freedom at 7 pm presented by award-winning author Aminatta Forna (Scotland/Sierra Leone)
It’s as action-packed as it gets in Johannesburg and if you miss this one you can only blame yourself. Especially if you consider that all sessions are FREE even though you need to book in advance.