Day 3: Breaking Zones of Silence (panel discussion)

Bethlehem Negash (Left), NN Dzenchuo (second left), Corneli van den Berg (centre) and Abu Amirah (Mombasa,Kenya).

This panel discussion was moderated by Bethlehem Negash, a writer based in Ethiopia, itself a zone of silence because of language barriers. Bethlehem spoke to Corneli  van den Berg; NN Dzenchuo and Abu Amirah.

Corneli  coordinates an annual literature festival- Vrystaat Arts Festival, held in Bloemfontein, South Africa, concurrently with the Vrystaat Arts Festival and they strive to ‘break zones of silence’ on a daily basis.  Their project, ‘Writing the lives we want: liberating the creative reservoirs of women from the African continent’, aims to precisely address the problem that women writers based on the African continent are not sufficiently heard. From 2019 onwards, particular focus is to raise the Pan-African profile of the literature festival. Partnerships with organisations such as the African Writers Trust are already being established. PACE will link international partners worldwide to ensure the global cultural significance of the creativity of Africa.

Writers from the English- speaking part of Cameroon are faced with a number of challenges such as lack of access to information and books because about 95% of materials are published in French.  NN Dzenchuo spoke to the audience about the current civil strife in his country that has resulted from these inequalities. The situation has got so bad that writers who are trying to carry out research are considered to be spies and suffer the consequences.

NN Dzenchuo from Cameroon.

The state of writing in Mombasa is still greatly lacking. Abu through the Hekaya Arts Initiative is encouraging Swahili writers and creatives to be more participatory. Attendance at this year’s Swahili Literary Festival increased to 100 from the usual 20 or less. Abu has also recently completed a ‘Traveling Fiction’ project for Swahili writers. He will have the book published with the seed money which he won last year from AWT’s Publishing Fellowship Seed Funding for African Emerging Publishers.

Abu Amirah speaks about literature on the Swahili coast and how his initiative is breaking barriers.
Share Button

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *