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Archive for the ‘Kenya’ Category

Programme for the ninth Jozi Book Fair announced!

In partnership with the City of Johannesburg, the ninth Jozi Book Fair takes place from 31 August – 3 September 2017 at Mary Fitzgerald Square, Newtown, Johannesburg.

The Jozi Book Fair (JBF) is an educational and cultural festival for schools, children, book clubs, women, men, academics, communities and the public. This year JBF’s jam-packed programme has more than 150 events for people of all ages, varied topics and interests, and all art forms, and 60% of events are hosted by the public. If schools want to participate, they need to register before 25 August. Entrance is FREE! See the full programme on the fair’s website: https://www.jozibookfair.org.za/

Celebrating the theme, ‘Women and Literature’, the fair brings together two literary powerhouses, Kopano Matlwa the author of the critically acclaimed novels Coconut, Spilt Milk and Period Pain, and Shailja Patel, an internationally acclaimed Kenyan poet, playwrighter, theatre artist, political activist and author of the bestseller Migritude.

The theme ‘Women and Literature’ informs the fair’s content, historicising depictions of women by both women and men, in literature and the arts globally.

Some authors at the fair: Mohale Mashigo, Marah Louw, Malebo Sephodi, Reneiloe Malatjie, Jayne Bauling, Dumisani Sibiya, Ashwin Desai, Pregs Govender, Christa Kulijan.

Legends and JBF Patrons: Zakes Mda, James Mathews, Keorapetse ‘Bra Willie’ Kgositsile, Diana Ferrus.

The highlights of this year’s fair include:

Guests & Participants
The award-winning guests of the fair, Kopano Matlwa and Shailja Patel will be in conversation about their work and on several panels.

Internationally Acclaimed Authors
Shailja Patel (Kenya)
Lindsey Collen (Mauritius)
Malin Persson Giolito (Sweden)

Conversations with authors
Media personality Penny Lebyane will be in conversation with Marah Louw on her book It’s me, Marah, Mohale Mashigo will be ‘misbehaving’ with Malebo Sephodi, author of Miss Behave, Reneilwe Malatji explores how relationships change as women gain independence with her book Love Interrupted and journalist Thandeka Gqubule will give insight into her book No Longer Whispering To Power: The Story of Thuli Madonsela.

Workshops
The fair boasts over 20 skills workshops which include writing (short stories, poetry), photography, social media, philosophy for teens, meditation for youth and dance meditation.

Book launches include the second edition of Batjha Kaofela, an anthology of ten short stories by teens from schools in townships and three books on #Feesmustfall by Leigh Ann Naidoo, Oliver Metho and Crispen Chungo, self-publishers and small publishers.

Roundtable discussions include: Women and Literature (Lindsey, Kopano, Shailja), White Monopoly Capital: What FUTURE for SA?: (Chris Malikane, D. Gqubule) and Crisis of Feminism with Nomboniso Gasa.

Panel discussions include discussions on the Mining Charter with Oxfam

Exciting exhibitions: Market Photo Workshop (women photographers), sculptor exhibition – Imbali Yo Mfazi/The Legend Of Woman by Mazwi Mdima at Workers Museum.

Music: School bands and Moses Molekwa Foundation

Theatre: Inner City Youth will be performing three iconic plays (Sizwe Bansi Is Dead, The Island and For Coloured Girls) and Botoo by Ronnie Govender.

The JBF is proud to also bring to the public the screening of the film, Whale Caller directed by Zola Maseko. The film is adapted from the book The Whale Caller by Zakes Mda.
 

Coconut

Book details

 
 

Spilt Milk

 
 

Period Pain

 
 

Migritude

 
 
 
 
It's Me, Marah

 
 
 
 
Miss Behave

 
 
 
 

Love Interrupted

 
 
 
 
No Longer Whispering to Power

 
 
 
 

The Whale Caller


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“Johannesburg is Africa without some of the prejudice of other parts of the continent” – Binyavanga Wainaina on Johannesburg, clumsiness, and dancing

The acclaimed Kenyan author Binyavanga Wainaina, whose memoir, One Day I Will Write About This Place was published in 2011, recently moved to Johannesburg. Hugo kaCanham, a lecturer at Wits University’s Psychology department, sat down with Waianaina at Melville’s Lucky Bean Cafe during which the two discussed Wainaiana’s clumsiness, his love for dancing, thoughts on Johannesburg’s gay scene, and traditional healers:

I am afraid of Binyavanga. When the invitation to meet him arrives, I accept without thinking. It is Binyavanga Wainaina after all. And then the anxiety comes. The dinner is tomorrow. When I get home I reach out for his book — One day I will write about this place. The cover has a curry stain. After reading it, I had passed it on to my brother. He had passed it along to my sister. It came back to me with other stains. I decide that I will ask for his autograph. I want to read the book again so I can ask Binyavanga important questions. But I don’t. I am from Lusikisiki and I know the Mthatha of which he writes about his student days. The texture of the book is as familiar as the caress of my favourite jacket. He weaves yarns to describe worlds that I know. I come to see them in new ways. I want to visit the worlds that I do not know.

I didn’t know that Binyavanga is in South Africa. My friend Grieve invited me to join them for dinner. I would also get to meet Grieve’s wife Mnwasa. Grieve calls him Binya. I follow his cue. Binya does not fill my mouth the way that Binyavanga does. When Binya arrives, he is tall. He has a striking face that I recognise from online images. A strong and steady stare. His mouth is not prone to smiling. There is a fine green line dyed into his hair and running across to the back of his head. His colourful jacket does not hide a gentle protrusion of his stomach. I immediately think of his father’s stomach in the essay - I am homosexual, mom. He greets Mnwasa by taking her hands in his. “You are beautiful,” he says. Mnwasa glows. I hear the slur in his voice and recall that he was very ill a while back. His voice is a bit too loud and the people at neighbouring tables hear him. I see their looks. But they stop hearing him after a while. Later, he explains that he had a stroke and that it will take a few more months to recover his speech. I had read his essay about how a major stroke killed his father. I hope he recovers soon. He looks vulnerable but he is upbeat.

I am ashamed of South Africa, but Binya believes it is the place to be. He has elected to stay in Johannesburg for about five years. It is a feeling he has about the city. He places high value in his sense of place. He is spiritual and talks a lot about the traditional healers that he knows. Johannesburg has many. He laments how traditional healers have been wiped out of Kenya’s public life. He could be a sangoma. Illness forces many to confront the realm of the ancestors. Johannesburg feels right to him. “I danced all night when I got here a few months ago. I love my large apartment in Yeoville. I wish it had wifi though. Johannesburg is Africa without some of the prejudice of other parts of the continent. Nigerian men date other men here.” He gestures to a black male couple at the neighbouring table. One of the men meets his eyes. “I don’t hang out with middle class homosexual men. I love hustling gay people. They don’t have all of these pretences of trying to be something. They just are.” He likes the word homosexual. He chose it above the more familiar gay in the title of the ‘lost’ chapter of his memoir — I am homosexual, mom. He is working on three projects. The two book projects already have publishers but he loves one project more than the other. He is writing furiously. He has been doing so since he arrived in South Africa.

Continue reading Hugo’s piece here.

One Day I Will Write about This Place

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First round of international authors for Open Book Festival 2017 announced

The authors have been announced for the seventh Open Book Festival and you can have the chance to play a part in it.

Brought to you by the Book Lounge and The Fugard Theatre, Open Book Festival will be presented from 6 to 10 September, once again offering a world-class selection of book launches, panel discussions, workshops, masterclasses, readings, performances and more. The event, which also includes the popular Comics Fest, #cocreatePoetica, children’s and outreach programmes, takes place at The Fugard Theatre, District Six Homecoming Centre and The Book Lounge in Cape Town.

Open Book Festival has established itself as one of South Africa’s most innovative and leading book festivals. Last year, nearly 10 000 people attended the festival’s 125 events featuring 251 authors and it has been shortlisted twice for the London Book Fair Excellence Awards. It is committed to creating a platform to celebrate South African writers, as well as hosting top international authors. The festival strives to instill an interest in and love of reading among young attendees, while the programme is designed to engage, entertain and inspire conversations among festival goers long after the event.

“In addition to announcing the first round of incredible international authors for Open Book Festival 2017, we are inviting people to help be a part of it and launching a Thundafund campaign for this year’s festival,” says festival director Mervyn Sloman.

“Anyone who works on major events will have an understanding of the budgetary challenges and current financial climate that are part and parcel of the sector. Open Book is no different and while we continue to work with key sponsors, we are inviting people who recognise the value of the festival to get involved and support us, so we can retain our independence and continue to put on an event of the scale and calibre visitors have come to expect. You can support the campaign for as little as R100 and every rand makes a difference.”

To contribute visit www.thundafund.com/project/openbookfestival

“We are excited to be announcing our first round of international authors and have again compiled a useful guide of their books so you can start reading now.”

Author: Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀ (Nigeria)
Books include: Stay With Me
Why we’re excited: Ayọ̀bámi was shortlisted for the 2017 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction. In 2015, she was listed by the Financial Times as one of the bright stars of Nigerian literature. She has been a writer in residence at numerous institutions and she was shortlisted for the Miles Morland Scholarship in 2014 and 2015.
 
 
Author: Paul Beatty (USA)
Books include: Slumberland, Tuff, The White Boy Shuffle and The Sellout. Also poetry book Big Bank Take Little Bank and Joker, Joker, Deuce. Editor of Hokum: An Anthology of African-American Humor
Why we’re excited: The current Man Booker Winner for The Sellout.
 
 
 

Author: Maylis de Kerangal (France. Attending thanks to the support of IFAS)
Books include: Mend the Living, Birth of a Bridge; the novella Tangente vers l’est
Why we’re excited: Mend the Living was longlisted for the Man Booker International Prize 2016 and won the Wellcome Book Prize 2017.
 
 
Author: Petina Gappah (Zimbabwe)
Books include: The Book of Memory and short story collections An Elegy for Easterly and Rotten Row
Why we’re excited: An Elegy for Easterly won the Guardian First Book Prize in 2009.
 
 
 
Author: Nathan Hill (USA)
Books include: The Nix
Why we’re excited: Hill’s debut novel The Nix was named one of the year’s best books by The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR, Slate and Amazon, among others. It was also the L.A. Times Book Prize for First Fiction and will be published worldwide in 30 languages.
 
 
Author: Elina Hirvonen (Finland. Attending thanks to the support of the Embassy of Finland)
Books include: When I Forgot, Farthest from Death, When Time Runs Out
Why we’re excited: This acclaimed author, journalist and documentary filmmaker has had her work translated into seven languages. When Time Runs Out was chosen as ‘The Most Important Book of the Year 2015’ in a project by the Finnish Broadcasting Company.
 
Author: Scaachi Koul (Canada. Attending thanks to the support of Canada Council for the Arts)
Books include: Her debut collection of essays in One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter
Why we’re excited: A culture writer for BuzzFeed, Scaachi’s writing has also appeared in The New Yorker, The Hairpin, The Globe and Mail, and Jezebel.
 
 
Author: Ali Land (UK)
Books include: Good Me Bad Me
Why we’re excited: Good Me Bad Me has been translated into over twenty languages. After graduating from university with a degree in Mental Health, Ali Land spent a decade working as a Child and Adolescent Mental Health nurse in hospitals and schools in the UK and Australia.
 
 
Author: Ken Liu (USA)
Books include: The Grace of Kings, The Wall of Storms, The Paper Menagerie
Why we’re excited: Liu’s short stories have won a Nebula, two Hugos, a World Fantasy Award and a Science Fiction & Fantasy Translation Award. His short story, “The Paper Menagerie”, was the first work of fiction to win all three major science fiction awards, the Hugo, the Nebula and the World Fantasy Award.
 
 
Author: Fiston Mwanza Mujila (DRC. Attending thanks to the support of the Goethe Institut)
Books include: Tram 83
Why we’re excited: His writing has been awarded numerous prizes, including the Prix du Monde and he was longlisted for MB International
 
 
 

Author: Chibundu Onuzo (Nigeria)
Books include: The Spider King’s Daughter, Welcome to Lagos
Why we’re excited: The Spider King’s Daughter was shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize and the Commonwealth Book Prize, and was longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize and the Etisalat Prize for Literature.
 
 
 

Author: Malin Persson Giolito (Sweden. Attending thanks to the support of The Embassy of Sweden)
Books include: Quicksand, the first of her novels to be translated into English
Why we’re excited: A former lawyer, her novel Quicksand was awarded the Best Crime Novel of the Year Award 2016, Sweden’s official suspense literature award, which is given by the Swedish Crime Writers’ Academy.
 
 
Author: Carl Frode Tiller (Norway. Attending thanks to support from NORLA)
Books include: The Encircling trilogy, Skråninga (The Slope)
Why we’re excited: His awards include the European Union Prize for Literature and Nordic Critics Prize. His Encircling trilogy has been twice nominated for the Nordic Council’s Prize. The trilogy is considered one of the great contemporary portraits of Nordic life. It has been adapted for the theatre and published in eighteen languages.
 
Author: Iman Verjee
Books include: Who will Catch us as we Fall, In Between Dreams
Why we’re excited: Winner of the 2012 Peters Fraser & Dunlop/City University Prize for Fiction for her debut novel In Between Dreams.
 
 
 
 
Author: Alex Wheatle (UK)
Books include: Crongton Knights, Liccle Bit, Brixton Rock, East of Acre Lane, The Seven Sisters, Island Songs, Checkers, The Dirty South
Why we’re excited: Known as ‘the Brixton Bard’ Alex was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for services to literature in 2008. He is UK’s most read Black British author, with his books on school reading lists, he takes part in Black History Month every year, works with Booktrust and the Children’s Discovery Centre to promote reading and represents English PEN. Crongton Knights won the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize 2016.
 
Author: Zoe Whittall (Canada. Attending thanks to support from Canada Council for the Arts)
Books include: The Best Kind of People, Holding Still for as Long as Possible
Why we’re excited: This award-winning Canadian author won a Lambda Literary award, was shortlisted for the Relit award, and was an American Library Association’s Stonewall Honor Book for Holding Still for as Long as Possible. She has also published three books of poetry.

The final programme will be available in early August, at which point bookings can be made at www.webtickets.co.za.

The seventh Open Book Festival will take place from 6 to 10 September at The Fugard Theatre, D6 Homecoming Centre, and The Book Lounge, from 10:00 to 21:00 each day. For further information visit www.openbookfestival.co.za.

For more information about and to support the Thundafund campaign, visit www.thundafund.com/project/openbookfestival

The Open Book Festival is made possible thanks to the support of its sponsors and partners: Leopard’s Leap, The Fugard Theatre, The District Six Museum, Open Society Foundation, Kingdom of the Netherlands, City of Cape Town, Townhouse Hotel, Penguin Random House, NB Publishers, Jonathan Ball Publishers, Pan Macmillan Publishers, The French Institute of South Africa, The Canada Council for the Arts, NORLA, the Embassy of Finland, the Embassy of Sweden, Dutch Foundation for Literature, PEN SA and the Goethe-Institut.

Stay With Me

Book details

 
 
 
Slumberland

 
 
 
 
Mend the Living

 
 
 

When I Forgot

 
 
 

One Day We'll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter

 
 
 

Good Me, Bad Me

 
 
 

The Grace of Kings

 
 
 

Tram 83

 
 
 

The Spider King\'s Daughter

 
 
 

Quicksand

 
 
 

Encircling

 
 
 

Who Will Catch Us As We Fall

 
 
 

Crongton Knights

 
 
 

The Best Kind of People

 
 
 

The Book of Memory by Petina Gappah
EAN: 9780571249916
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Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o speaking at University of the Witwatersrand

Birth of a Dream Weaver: Ngugi wa Thiong'o: Ng?g? wa Thiong'o: Ng?g? wa Thiong'o: Ngugi wa Thiong'o: Ngugi wa Thiong'o: Ngugi wa Thiong'o: Ngugi wa Thiong'o: Ngugi wa Thiong'o: Ngugi wa Thiong'o: Ngugi wa Thiong'o: Ngugi wa Thiong'o: Ngugi wa Thiong'o: Ngugi wa Thiong'o: Ngugi wa Thiong'oWits University and the National Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences are proud to host renowned Kenyan author Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o.

Wa Thiong’o is a novelist and theorist of post-colonial literature and currently a Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of California. He is a recipient of 11 Honorary Doctorates and an Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Some of his early works include Weep not Child, The River Between, A Grain of Wheat, Secret Lives and Decolonising the Mind.

- Visit Wits’ website for more

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  • Birth of a Dream Weaver: Ngugi wa Thiong’o: Ng?g? wa Thiong’o: Ng?g? wa Thiong’o: Ngugi wa Thiong’o: Ngugi wa Thiong’o: Ngugi wa Thiong’o: Ngugi wa Thiong’o: Ngugi wa Thiong’o: Ngugi wa Thiong’o: Ngugi wa Thiong’o: Ngugi wa Thiong’o: Ngugi wa Thiong’o: Ngugi wa Thiong’o: Ngugi wa Thiong’oEAN: Birth of a Dream Weaver
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‘I have become a language warrior’ – Ngugi wa Thiong’o receives the 2016 Pak Kyongni Prize in South Korea (Exclusive Report)

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o wins 2016 Pak Kyongni Prize
A Grain of WheatWeep Not, ChildPetals of BloodDecolonising the MindDevil on the CrossSecure the Base

 
Alert! Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o recently visited South Korea where he received the prestigious Pak Kyongni Prize, an international literary award established in 2011.

With a cash prize of 100 million Korean Won (about US$90 000 or R1.2 million), the Pak Kyongni Prize is one of the richest literary awards in the world.

The award ceremony took place on Saturday, 22 October, 2016 at the Toji Cultural Center in the picturesque city of Wonju in Gangwon Province. Books LIVE’s Annetjie van Wynegaard witnessed the historic event.

Read Wa Thiong’o's complete acceptance speech below and scroll down for tweets and photographs!

The legendary Kenyan author was accompanied to the ceremony by his wife Njeeri, who radiated poise and elegance as the couple was welcomed with a Daegeum Sanjo (traditional bamboo flute) and dance performance by national cultural assets Woo Jang-Hyun, Jung Hwayeong and Jung Songhui.

KBS World and Arirang TV anchor Young Kim moderated the events of the evening, which included congratulatory speeches by Jung Chang Young, member of the Pak Kyongni Prize Committee, Choi Moon Soon, governor of Gangwon Province, and Won Chang Muk, mayor of Wonju.

Also in attendance were the late Pak Kyongni’s daughter and Chair of the Toji Cultural Foundation’s board of directors, Kim Young-joo, and her husband and celebrated poet Kim Chi Ha. The evening was well attended by delegates from the Kenyan Embassy in Seoul, expatriates and university students who came to support the author.

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o wins 2016 Pak Kyongni Prize

 

Who was Pak Kyongni?

LandMayor Won Chang Muk welcomed the audience to Wonju, the city where Pak Kyongni wrote her seminal work, Toji, or Land as it was translated into English, which consists of 20 volumes. Pak Kyongni was an influential writer whose work shaped the discourse of modern Korean literature. Her legacy, the Toji Cultural Foundation, offers a residency programme for writers and artists from all over the world. The Toji Cultural Center is situated just outside Wonju, surrounded by majestic mountains and breathtaking scenery.

Jung Chang Young offered some background to the late author in his speech:

“Pak Kyongni endured the chaotic cycle of Korean modern history, witnessing Japanese imperial rule, the Korean War, and the division of the Korean peninsula. Nevertheless, she continued to dedicate her infallible writing spirit to the observation of the human condition and to delve deeper into the pursuit of the meaning of life. Through her observations of Korea’s turbulent history and people striving to live in irrational circumstances, Pak Kyongni managed to transcend Korea’s reality by turning it into a striking literary topic.”

Turning his attention to the man of the evening, Jung Chang Young said: “Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o is a writer and intellectual who takes action and received a lot of love and respect from people around the world. He is a doctor of the mind and the soul of the community, and paints a picture of the human’s willingness to move on to a better world through his writing. He experienced colonialism, the Mau Mau Uprising, the chaos and conflict of founding a newly independent country, and exile, all of which have melted into his works.

“We have read his books such as Weep Not, Child, A Grain of Wheat and Petals of Blood, which reminds us of our past and present, and helps us to think about matters of freedom and oppression, resistance and surrender, and hope and despair,” he said.

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o wins 2016 Pak Kyongni Prize

 
How Wa Thiong’o was selected as winner

Kim Uchang, Chair of the selection committee, could not attend the ceremony but his speech was made available to the audience. Wa Thiong’o was selected from a preliminary compilation of 90 authors from over 20 different countries. “The selection committee, while bearing in mind literary standard as the most important of all criteria, tried to keep the field of vision as wide as possible, in order to include writers of diverse nationalities, ages and genders,” Kim writes. The final selection included Wa Thiong’o, Isabel Allende, AS Byatt, Ha Jin, Louise Erdrich and Leslie Marmon Silko.

Kim Uchang explains that “the multicultural and multi-civilisational themes” explored by these writers encourage the reader to “rethink … the place of the West in the historical evolution of humankind as a whole”. He adds: “While modern western civilisation has become a dominant player, the writers who cross its borders, ask their readers to review its significance, including what has been excluded and missed out by its dominance.”

Kim Uchang says: “A writer whose work distinctively exhibits the broadest and complicated boundary-crossing is Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o. The main part of his stories is often set in a world that involves various evils of imperialism and colonialism as well as struggles for independence and their complex consequences … his work reflects a world in which many different borders, boundaries and conditions overlap, and confront each other, manifesting the process of globalisation which humankind faces today.”

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o wins 2016 Pak Kyongni Prize

 
Wa Thiong’o is the sixth recipient of the Pak Kyongni Prize – the first international literary award in Korea – since its inauguration in 2011. Previous winners were Choi In-Hoon (2011), Ludmila Ulitskaya (2012), Marilynne Robinson (2013), Bernard Schlink (2014) and Amos Oz (2015).

In his acceptance speech, the author drew parallels between the Kenya in his novels and the Korea in Pak Kyongni’s work. He also told the tale of how he first heard the news of winning the Pak Kyongni Prize from Njeeri, who asked him: “Who is Pak Kyongni?”

Read Wa Thiong’o's acceptance speech:

Language and Culture Contact as Oxygen of Civilisation

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o wins 2016 Pak Kyongni PrizeCry of the people and other poemsI am Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Irvine, USA but I am here as a writer not academic. Creative writing is a lonely business. One communed with oneself for hours, days, months and even years, wrestling with doubts with no help from their most intimate friends. It is more akin to the experience of prophets and seers of old who had to retreat to the wilderness for long periods wrestling with daemons of temptation, including calls to give up their quest. Only that for the writer, instead of retreating into the mountains, they descend into their consciousness and dive deep into their subconscious to give shape and form to chaos. And even then they can never be sure of how their work will be received by the reader, for in the end, it’s the reader who completes the creative process.

One does not write for awards other than the reward of recognition by the reader. So to get an award, any award, especially one for which the writer has not applied, is very satisfying. I am very grateful that the Toji Foundation have found my work worth the 2016 Pak Kyongni Prize, which also makes me join the company of the five other luminaries who have received the prize before me. It makes it all the more satisfying to receive it in the company of my wife, Njeeri, my first reader and critic, who endures all the early rough drafts of my work. She was also the first to hear the news and she asked me: “Who is Pak Kyongni?” Well, I confess that I did not know.

So I went to the internet to find out more about the writer and her work. Certain parallels between the Korea of her novel, Toji, Land, and the Kenya of my own works struck me. The Japanese colonial occupation of Korea, 1910 to 1945, and the Korean people’s resistance to it reminded me of the British colonial occupation of my country and Kenyan people’s resistance to it. Even the Japanese suppression of the Korean language has parallels in the British suppression of Kenyan African languages. I was about 12 years old when I first heard of the Korean War 1950-1953; those were also the years the Kenyan people’s war against the British colonial settler started.

Hardly had I begun to wonder about those parallels of history when I read that Pak Kyongni was the mother-in-law of another Korean writer, Kim Chi Ha. The prize ceased just being another prize, special though it is, it became personal.

It was in 1976 on the occasion of the Emergency International Conference in Tokyo to which I had been invited by the late Japanese novelist Oda Makoto, when, in a tiny bookshop attached to my hotel, I picked up a volume of poetry, Cry of the People by Kim Chi Ha. It was the only English text in there, and I bought the last copy. I believe that Kim Chi Ha was in prison at the time for his writings. I became fascinated by his work including the famous poem “The five bandits” that I came across later in the conference. I returned to Kenya and introduced Cry of the People to the literature syllabus at the University of Nairobi where I was then professor and chair of the department of literature. It became very popular, especially the poem “Groundless rumors”. The peasant character An-Do became a folk hero among the students. But a year after that, in December 1977, I found myself also in a maximum security prison in Kenya for my writings.

Alone in prison without trial, I decided to start a novel in Gĩgĩkũyũ. Before this, I had written all my previous novels in English. The novel, Caitaani Mũtharabaini, written on toilet paper, the only writing material I could access, was later translated into English as Devil on the Cross. The novel was very much influenced by Kim Chi Ha’s famous poem “The five bandits”. Writing that novel in prison made me endure my one-year incarceration, my high spirits. So the spirit of Kim Chi Ha became my companion in prison. The novel was later published in 1982, and it became the first modern novel in Gĩgĩkũyũ language. Since then I have written all my novels, drama and poetry in the language. I have also become a language warrior for African languages and marginalised languages in the world. The thoughts that later went into my theoretical text, Decolonising the Mind, had origins in that period of my life when Kim Chi Ha’s work acted as my inspiration.

I hope you can now appreciate why this award is so special and personal. It brings back memories. It takes me back 40 years ago, the beginning of a literary and intellectual journey that has taken me all over the world, an unrepentant advocate of African languages and all marginalised languages in the world. If this award reminds the world that I now write my creative work in Gĩgĩkũyũ and that African languages do exist and that, like all other languages in the world, have a right to a literary and intellectual production, that, indeed, they have much to contribute to world culture, then I am more than grateful for the award.

Monolingualism suffocates the growth of the human spirit. Language and culture contact on the basis of equality, is indeed the oxygen of civilisation. It is in that spirit that I gratefully accept the 2016 Pak Kyongni Prize.

The formalities gave way to a dazzling dinner in the cool autumn evening, where Wa Thiong’o broke bread with Kim Chi Ha and Kim Young-joo, who later presented him with a gift of calligraphy. This star-struck writer nervously made her way through the crowd to meet the author. We took a photograph together and spoke a little, and he instructed me to read his short story “The Upright Revolution”. The evening concluded with dancing under the stars.

Look at the photographs from the event:

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o wins 2016 Pak Kyongni Prize

 

 
Annetjie van Wynegaard (@annetjievw) live tweeted the occasion:

 

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Read an excerpt from Binyavanga Wainaina’s new short story, “Alien Taste”

Kwani?One Day I Will Write About This PlaceHow to Write About Africa

 
“There are times that even Graham believes the story he has peddled for so many years, about how he came to be gay.”

This Fiction Friday, dip into “Alien Taste”, a new short story on Brittle Paper by acclaimed author Binyavanga Wainaina.

The story starts with the protagonist thinking back on the time he first realised he was gay. Fifteen-year-old Graham drinks beer and has had sex with an older woman (but isn’t convinced that he liked either events).

“He assumed that sex was like beer—that soon it would create an unquestioning language in him, and he could lose himself in its subtleties.”

On the day he decides to smoke in public for the first time, Graham meets a man named Fred, a big Irishman with a deep, careless voice.

Read the excerpt:

There are times that even Graham believes the story he has peddled for so many years, about how he came to be gay. That he had always known; that he used to dress up in his mother; that he had been riveted by the biceps of Mohammed Ali, the anger of those black panthers on television; that he had played the kerfuffle game in public school; that the old gay friends of his mother, who had hosted him when she was in rehab, or consulting her guru in Lucknow, had made it easy to see possibilities in this world. These things are all true, but only small accessories to the main event.

But the main event, as seen by him now, is also untruthful: it was not as clear a sexual selection as he prefers to imagine, and he knows this enough not to share this story– it could well be that he was always gay, and that he would have come to it in one way or another, despite his self-protests to the contrary. But the unambiguous epiphany that the first gay fuck gave him marked not his sexuality, but his approach to life itself, it was his Woodstock, his civil rights movement. And inside himself, he remains unconvinced of his visceral homosexuality, believes that he has willfully created himself.

 
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DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Programme ‘strongly condemns’ the ‘violent’ assault on Binyavanga Wainaina

Binyavanga Wainaina
One Day I Will Write About This PlaceKwani?How to Write About Africa

 
The Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst Artists-in-Berlin Programme has responded to the recent alleged assault on Binyavanga Wainaina.

While on a prestigious Daad Fellowship in Berlin this week, Wainaina wrote a disturbing account being beaten up in the street by a taxi driver.

The 45-year-old Kenyan writer, who suffered a stroke last year, hailed the cab because he need to get to a pharmacy but – as he relates – the driver lost his temper at Wainaina’s halting speech, which is a result of his illness, and pulled him from the car.

The Daad has released a statement strongly condemning the assault, adding that the programme feels “ashamed that such a violent act could occur in our country”.

The programme adds that it is in close contact with Wainaina and stands “firmly by his side”.

Wainaina has since reassured his fans of his wellbeing on Facebook, saying: “God. 1st am fine. Made my flight to Dar es Salaam, where I want to know where gays and lesbians hang out, and where I can play Tennis.”

Read the full statement from Daad:

The Daad Artists-in-Berlin Programme has noted with deep consternation, that its current guest, Kenyan writer Binyavanga Wainaina, has been beaten by a taxi driver in Berlin. We strongly condemn this assault and feel ashamed that such a violent act could occur in our country. The Daad Artists-in-Berlin Program stands for a culture of welcoming, for tolerance, international artistic dialogue and the absence of difference. We are all strangers encountering different cultures and bringing these together. This is the only way that a true dialogue can take place. The Daad Artists-in-Berlin Program is in close contact with Binyavanga Wainaina and stands in this situation firmly by his side.

Source: Berliner Künstlerprogramm des DAAD on Facebook

 
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‘I feel black, dirty’ – Binyavanga Wainaina describes ‘beating’ by taxi driver in Berlin

Binyavanga Wainaina
One Day I Will Write About This PlaceKwani?How to Write About Africa

 
Binyavanga Wainaina, currently on a prestigious Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (Daad) Fellowship in Berlin, Germany, has written a disturbing account of an alleged assault at the hands of a taxi driver.

The 45-year-old Kenyan writer suffered a stroke last year and had to travel for India for urgent medical treatment. A network of fans a friends raised over R1,1-million to get him there in a fundraising drive, indicating how highly and fondly he and his work are regarded.

Wainaina visited Johannesburg last year, where he delivered a public lecture titled “Being African in the World” and chatted to Books LIVE about what he was reading and writing, and explained why he’s “not the black Franzen from Africa”. His famous 2012 essay “How to Write About Africa”, published on Granta, has become a seminal piece of satirical writing, and the international rights for his next two books were recently snapped up by Penguin Books and Random House.

Wainaina writes on Facebook that he was beaten up on the way to a pharmacy by a taxi driver who became impatient with his halting speech – a consequence of his stroke – with nobody willing to come to his aid.

“I feel black, dirty,” he says. “I feel as if this kind of thing is supposed to happen to somebody like me.”

Read Wainaina’s post, as shared publicly on Facebook:

Berlin chronicles. Am in Berlin as one of the writers on a Daad Fellowship. This is one of the most prestigious fellowships in the world. Berlin is a city of bikes. I live in Charlottenburg. You don’t see black people in Charlottenburg. Today I was out shopping on my bike. I came out of Peek and Somethingburg all excited because I am off to dar es salaam tonight to see my in-love. Anyway am busy rushing about. My gorgeous apartment is a mess. Anyway, I am walking as carelessly as usual heading to unlock my bike when i see her – a black woman looking at me. She says, “I saw you the other day, cycling carelessly, on Saturday we buried 4 Ghanaians. They kill you just like that you are nothing to them. Me – you cant see me on bicycle – they are supposed to remain 4 metres from you, but they don’t. They kill you.” I don’t need a degree to say she meant Germans. But I am careless, and Berlin is a city designed for careless people. Except her – and I suspect they are many others like her. Anyway, I left her carelessly and rushed home, put my new clothes on top of my suitcase – and called a cab. I had finished my prescription medication the day before so I had called the cab company I like because they don’t mind that I don’t speak German and – since my stroke I have a few speech defects – I mangle 22 … Stuttgarter Platz … and they don’t mind. The cab was waiting. I got in, sat down carelessly and started to look for the address for where was going on my phone. And the website of the clinic I was going to was one of those that maybe don’t fit a phone so well. Anyway it took a long for me to get the address. Clearly the taxi driver was not a patient guy. He asked me several times to hurry it, but si the meter is running, and I am paying him? So he gets out of the car and comes across to my side, and opens the door. I am clueless what is going on because he is beating me, my bag is on the ground, we scuffle but he is stronger, I am crying now. Loud. In front of my neighbours, it is five-ish, the lady at the shop who makes it a point never to say hello to me is relishing everything, nobody comes to my aid. I feel black, dirty. I feel as if this kind of thing is supposed to happen to somebody like me. Am in Zurich writing this, on my way to see my in-love

Follow Binyavanga Wainaina on Facebook here

 
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Niq Mhlongo’s top 15 books from the African Writers Series

Niq Mhlongo
Niq Mhlongo's top 15 books from the African Writers Series
AffluenzaDog Eat DogAfter TearsWay Back Home

 

Niq Mhlongo has shared his top 15 books from the legendary Heinemann African Writers Series.

Mhlongo is a known fan of the famous series, and at the Time of the Writer Festival in Durban this year he said it was a great influence on his writing.

“I grew up reading only the African Writers Series,” he said. “So when people talk about Charles Dickens, I’ve never even read him. It didn’t interest me at all. I grew up reading African writers. I read everything that was African.”

Read: ‘I’m not philosophical, I’m just a writer’ – Niq Mhlongo tells it like it is at Time of the Writer

Now Mhlongo has compiled a list of his favourites, and it’s a must see for those wishing to expand their knowledge – as Nozizwe Cynthia Jele comments: “This is the ultimate reading list!”

He writes on Facebook:

Before I studied literature at the Wits University, the only writers I was exposed to (apart from Shakespeare and Orwell) were African writers from the Heinemann African Writers Series. Here is my top 15 books that I adored from the series before I was introduced to other writers from around world.

Follow Mhlongo on Facebook here

Niq Mhlongo’s African Writers Series top 15

Some of the books are currently unavailable from the African Writers Series, and the cheapest edition has been substituted in

How many of these books have you read? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook or Twitter!

Second Class Citizen
1. Second Class Citizen by Buchi Emecheta
EAN: 9780435909918
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Houseboy
2. Houseboy by Ferdinand Oyono
EAN: 9780435905323
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Nervous Conditions
3. Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga
EAN: 9780954702335
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Going Down River Road
4. Going Down River Road by Meja Mwangi
EAN: 9780982012635
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The African Child
5. The African Child by Camara Laye
EAN: 9780006122593
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The Beautyful Ones are Not Yet Born
6. The Beautyful Ones are Not Yet Born by Ayi Kwei Armah
EAN: 9780435905408
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The Marabi Dance
7. The Marabi Dance by Modikwe Diboke
EAN: 9780435901240
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Detained: A Writer's Prison Diary
8. Detained: A Writer’s Prison Diary by Ngugi Wa Thiong’o
EAN: 9780435902407
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House of Hunger
9. House of Hunger by Dambudzo Marechera
EAN: 9780435895983
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Afrika My Music
10. Afrika My Music: An Autobiography 1957-1983 by Es’kia Mphahlele
EAN: 9780869752371
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Call Me Woman
11. Call Me Woman by Ellen Kuzwayo
EAN: 9780958470827
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God\'s Bits of Wood
12. God’s Bits of Wood by Sembene Ousmane
EAN: 9780435909598
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Mine Boy
13. Mine Boy by Peter Abrahams
EAN: 9780435905620
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Mhudi
14. Mhudi by Sol Plaatje
EAN: 9780143185406
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Chaka
15. Chaka by Thomas Mofolo
EAN: 9780435902292
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Fans and friends raise R1.1-million for Binyavanga Wainaina’s medical treatment

Binyavanga Wainaina
One Day I Will Write About This PlaceKwani?How to Write About Africa

 
Kwani Trust has thanked all those who contributed to the fund set up for Binyavanga Wainaina’s medical treatment last year.

The beloved Kenyan author suffered a stroke at the end of October, and needed to travel to India for treatment.

Through the fundraising drive, $73,346 (about R1,1-million) was raised via direct contributions, online and mobile donations.

Wainaina’s rehabilitation is going well, and the underlying circumstances that led to his stroke are being monitored and treated.

The Kwani Trust board of Trustees, Binyavanga Wainaina and the larger Kwani Trust family offer their “utmost gratitude” to those who contributed to the fund: “Individuals, organisations and other associations from the writing and other communities banded together to make his access to medical care possible at a very difficult time.”

Read more from Kwani:

Press release:

In late November 2015, Medical fund accounts were established by Kwani Trust’s board of trustees for donations towards Binyavanga Wainaina’s medical care following a stroke in October 2015. The generous donations made by over 700 of you enabled Binyavanga’s medical transfer to the BGS Hospital in Bangalore, India, on 28th November 2015. We thank you once again for the assistance and the immediate response to our appeal on his behalf.

At BGS Global Hospital, Binyavanga underwent the necessary medical tests and procedures including physical and speech therapy until late January 2016. He returned to Nairobi on 26th January and in early March, was admitted to Aga Khan Hospital for 5 days. While he no longer needs round-the-clock medical supervision, he is currently on routine consultation with doctors as part of the recommendations from his doctors in India. This is to treat the underlying circumstances that led to his stroke.

His rehabilitation is ongoing with physical and speech therapy as part of the course in months to come and in general, he is responding well to this. He will be travelling to Germany shortly, where he plans to spend a year in Berlin at a writing residency secured before his stroke. While in Berlin, he will continue with treatment (including surgery), and further therapy.

We thank your overwhelmingly kind response to our appeal for his medical fund. In total, KES 7,334,600 / $73,346 was raised via direct contributions, online and mobile donations. To date, medical expenses and related costs (including air travel and local insurance) have totaled KES 4,977,300 / $49,773 and the medical fund now has a balance of KES 2,357,300 / $23,573. This amount is still administered by Kwani Trust and is solely for any related further medical costs. Should you have any questions related to the finances of the medical fund, kindly do not hesitate to get in touch with the contacts listed below.

On behalf of the board of Trustees, Binyavanga Wainaina and the larger Kwani Trust family, please accept our utmost gratitude for your support over the last few months. Individuals, organisations and other associations from the writing and other communities banded together to make his access to medical care possible at a very difficult time. Many thanks to Nairobi’s The Nest who raised funds with a special event on their premises, Phoebe Boswell for coordinating London efforts, Lola Shoneyin and friends in Lagos who oversaw fundraising in Nigeria with #Naija4Binyavanga, Accra’s Fokn Bois for their #Love4Binya concert in Nairobi, the community of friends who formed core support groups, and so many others for your financial and other support.

Many thanks to Achal Prabhala who so selflessly stepped in to oversee all Bangalore matters, and to Isaac Otidi Amuke who travelled to India to assist Binyavanga during his recuperation. Dr Sonigra and Dr Oluoch Olunya – please accept our gratitude for all your assistance.

With many thanks, to so many of you, for your kind donations.

Special thanks to the following individuals for your fundraising and other core support:

Binyavanga Wainaina Medical Fund Committee
Isaac Otidi Amuke
Sheba Hirst
Billy Kahora
Parselelo Kantai
June Arunga Kimani
Dr. Martin Kimani
Angela Wachuka
James Wainaina
June Wainaina
Melissa Wainaina

Friends of Binyavanga
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Ike Anya
Phoebe Boswell
Jim Chuchu
George Gachara
Judy Kibinge
Wanja Maguongo
Juliet Mehretu
Wangechi Mutu
Aslak Myhre
Neo Musangi
Dr Njoki Ngumi
Dr Oluoch Olunya
Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor
Achal Prabhala
Lola Shoneyin

For further Information/queries, please contact:

Angela Wachuka
Executive Director

Billy Kahora
Managing Editor

medicalfund@kwani.org | +254 711 467 072

Ends

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