Africa Writes, our sister festival has come and gone but we still have the experience ringing in our heads. We at WOA have compiled a list of everything we learnt over the three days.

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  1. Veronique Tadjo explored genocide and memory in her key note speech for Africa in Translation: Memory and Re-membering. She talked specifically about Rwanda and how the trauma of the civil war has affected the people’s psychology.  Could this explain much of the dissension amongst the youth, post London Riots, Sandra Bland and Brexit?

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  1. Although this comment from Marie- Pierre Bouchard is an obvious one, every now and again you have to remind yourself that there’s more to the continent than famine, war, corruption and disease – even when it’s done well like in Leye Adenle’s Easy Motion Tourist, published by Cassava Republic Press.

 

  1. Apparently, identifying female writers by their first name and not their last is convention. So we decided to break it by re-naming The British Library’s Bronte, Dickens, and Eliot Rooms with the surnames of three celebrated African women writers to mark the 50th anniversary of some of their most famous work. Marion Wallace, the Curator of African Collections at the British Library was surprised to see Africa Writes workshops and discussions taking place in the unfamiliar names of rooms she knew.

 

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  1. There may be an element of truth in the Nigerian gay activist Bisi Alimi’s joke about cultural restrictions on sexual expression. Only his drag alter ego Ms Posh Pussy could get away with such remarks!

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  1. According to Scott Pack of Unbound – the world’s first crowd-funding publisher, this model of raising cash online is ancient. Is there anything new under the sun?

Well this is technically something new – for Africa Writes that is. Support the celebration of African Literature in the UK and donate to the Africa Writes Crowdfunder page. They aim to raise a fifth of the festival budget by Tue 9 August 2016. No donation is too small: http://bit.ly/AWCrowdfund

Bernadine Evaristo

  1. Just a snippet of what took place in Bernardine Evaristo’s Writing a Novel masterclass with the Royal Society of Literature. Great advice to any aspiring writer. Write first. Think later.

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  1. Middle East’ is a term that the internationally renowned Egyptian feminist writer Nawal El Saadawi hates! Nawal El Saadawi hates. The other two are Post-Colonialism and Third World. And we hate these euro-centric, patriarchal, superpower terms too! There’s no such thing as post-colonialism because colonialism still exists today.

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  1. Nawal El Saadawi shared her views on the recent #Brexit result. She concludes that what Britain is going through is a crisis. The government ignores the 48% who voted ‘remain’ because of the 2% who tipped it the other way. How is democratic? El Saadawi terms elections as undemocratic ‘ a fever or a disease’ and urges us to find another way.

  1. You tell yourself that you will not be buying any new books to add to your library but then you start flicking through the book store and before you know it, you’re balancing books with your chin. Buy a tote bag to stash your goods. And while you’re at it, buy an Africa Writes t-shirt too!

 

  1. ‘There are characters that are more alive to me than real people – that is often what makes a great story.’ The north London rapper Akala talks about his literary inspirations. You know when you meet certain people who are more fake than the fictitious characters you read in stories. WOA don’t have time for those kind of people.

If you attended and loved Africa Writes 2016, let us know in our survey: http://bit.ly/AW16survey.

Check out the Africa Writes 2016: The Round Up article on the Africa Writes Website.

Picture credit: Ivan Gonzalez/  bernadineevaristo.com

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