Day 2, African Literary Renaissance: Return to Glory or Superficial Gloss?

3rd March, 2015. Morning session

In the years following independence (1960’s for most African countries), many African writers including Chinua Achebe, Okot p’Bitek, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Nuruddin Farah, Ama Ata Aidoo, Flora Nwapa, wrote and published high quality literature which has withstood the test of time. Their works launched Africa’s Literature on the international literary map. Similarly, the last two decades have witnessed a literary renaissance, with new voices of contemporary African writers earning global attention for their works. These include NoViolet Bulawayo, Chimamanda Adichie, Teju Cole, and many others. They have heralded a new era of literary optimism, which many regard as the return to the golden days. But is this impression the sound reality?

Provocateur: Dr Susan Kiguli (Uganda poet, professor of literature and Head of Literature Department at Makerere University). Moderator: Dr. Danson Kahyana.

Susan and Danson

Susan and Danson

 

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Left: Dr. Susan Kiguli with Prof. Zakes Mda, AWT chief guest, and Shadrech Chikoti

Autograph moment

Left: Diana, Zakes Mda, and Danson Kahyana, moderator of the session

Left: Diana, Zakes Mda, and Danson Kahyana, moderator of the session

At the book stand

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One happy family

Left: Susan Kiguli, Juliane Okot Bitek, Susan Nkwentie, Jennifer Makumbi, Louise Umutoni, and Noo Saro-Wiwa

Left: Susan Kiguli, Juliane Okot Bitek, Susan Nkwentie, Jennifer Makumbi, Louise Umutoni, and Noo Saro-Wiwa

Second topic of the day, morning to afternoon session: Space and Identity in African Writing: Writing Beyond the West

African writers in the Diaspora often have to navigate two challenges: the epistemological space in which they operate and the identity they hold, both of which are often in question. Is it possible for African writers in the Diaspora to represent an “authentic” African identity? or is their connection to Africa merely imagined? How much of their writing should be considered African? How do these writers fulfil the demands by their western publishers and markets, and at the same time cater for their African audiences? Four African writers living and working in the Diaspora: Jennifer Makumbi (Uganda/UK),  Noo Saro-Wiwa (Nigeria/UK), Chinelo Okparanta (Nigeria/USA), and Juliane Okot Bitek (Uganda/Canada), explore these questions. Goretti Kyomuhendo (Uganda/UK) chairs the session.

Left: Noo Saro-Wiwa, Goretti Kyomuhendo, Jennifer Makumbi, Chinelo Okparanta, and Juliane Okot Bitek

Left: Noo Saro-Wiwa, Goretti Kyomuhendo, Jennifer Makumbi, Chinelo Okparanta, and Juliane Okot Bitek

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