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Archive for the ‘Kenya’ Category

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.

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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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New Ngugi wa Thiong’o story translated into over 30 African languages in record-breaking issue of Jalada Africa

Ngugi wa Thiong'o
In the House of the InterpreterA Grain of WheatThe River BetweenWeep Not, ChildPetals of BloodDreams in a Time of WarWizard of the Crow

 
The latest edition of Jalada Africa contains a new short story by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o translated into over 30 African languages, making it the “single most translated short story in the history of African writing”.

The short story was originally written in Kikuyu as “Ituĩka Rĩa Mũrũngarũ: Kana Kĩrĩa Gĩtũmaga Andũ Mathiĩ Marũngiĩ”, and was translated by Ngũgĩ himself into English as “The Upright Revolution: Or Why Humans Walk Upright”.

This is an impressive first foray into translation for Jalada Africa, a Pan-African writers’ collective based in Nairobi, Kenya. Translation Issue: Volume 1 is the culmination of a four-month project, and features collaborative work by professional and amateur translators as well as language enthusiasts from 14 African countries.

In his introduction to the issue, Jalada Africa managing editor Moses Kilolo says: “Professor Wa Thiong’o is uniquely placed to be the first distinguished author and intellectual featured in our periodical translations issue. He has, for many years, been the most vocal proponent in publishing in African languages.”

nullThe story is available in Afrikaans, English, isiNdebele, isiZulu and Xitsonga, as well as the original Kikuyu, Ahmharic, Dholuo, Kikamba, Lwisukha-Lwidakho, Ikinyarwada, Arabic, Luganda, Kiswahili, Hausa, Meru, Lingala, Igbo, Ibibio, Somali, Nandi, Rukiga, Bamanankan, Lugbarati, Shona, Lubukusu, Kimaragoli, Giriama, Sheng, Ewe, Naija Languej, Marakwet and French.

Audio recordings of the story are also available in Kikuyu, English and Sheng. The anthology will soon be available in PDF and ebook formats.

  • Jalada Africa encourages writers and translators who do not find their African languages featured in this issue and who would like to volunteer to contribute a translation of this story and to future Translation Issues to get in touch with at jaladatranslations@gmail.com.
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The aim of the project was to renew interest in publishing in local languages and increase access to such stories.

Ngũgĩ says: “The cruel genius of colonialism was to turn normality into abnormality and then make the colonised accept the abnormality as the real norm … mother tongue first; then add to it, as necessary, that’s the way of progress and empowerment.

“So [Jalada's] actions will empower Africa by making Africans own their resources from languages – making dreams with our languages – to other natural resources – making things with them, consuming some, exchanging some.

“The moment we lost our languages was also the moment we lost our bodies, our gold, diamonds, copper, coffee, tea. The moment we accepted (or being made to accept) that we could not do things with our languages was the moment we accepted that we could not make things with our vast resources.”

Read a short excerpt from the English version:

A long time ago humans used to walk on legs and arms, just like all the other four limbed creatures. Humans were faster than hare, leopard or rhino. Legs and arms were closer than any other organs: they had similar corresponding joints: shoulders and hips; elbows and knees; ankles and wrists; feet and hands, each ending with five toes and fingers, with nails on each toe and finger. Hands and feet had similar arrangements of their five toes and finger from the big toe and thumb to the smallest toes and pinkies. In those days the thumb was close to the other fingers, the same as the big toe. Legs and arms called each other first cousins.

Jalada Africa is planning more editions of translation, featuring a previously unpublished story of no more than 3,000 words. Writers and translators across the continent will be invited to submit and edit translations in their African language of knowledge and/or study. The ultimate goal is to have each story translated into 2,000 African languages.

Jalada’s September 2015 anthology, The Language Issue, also celebrates Africa’s diversity in language, with fiction, poetry, spoken word, visual art and essays in 23 African languages as well as English, French, Polish and Mandarin.

“Despite long-running conversations on the need for publishing in indigenous languages on the African continent over the past five decades, writing and translations remain minimal and the little that exists continues to rapidly decline,” the publication says. “Since our Languages Issue, we’ve deliberated on the best ways of making writing in our languages a continuous activity.

“We were convinced the previous anthology did not capture all the facets of languages we were interested in. There are millions of speakers in African languages and not many writers in African languages. Why? Can this be changed?”

 
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Image courtesy of What’s Good Africa

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12 writers from 6 African countries converge in Zambia for the Caine Prize Workshop

Caine Prize Workshop
The Ghost RunnerLusaka Punk and Other StoriesWe Need New NamesRemember the African Skies
A Memory This Size and Other StoriesBorn on a TuesdayThe True Story of David Munyakei, Goldenberg WhistleblowerThe ReactiveThe Gonjon Pin and Other Stories

 

12 writers from six African countries have converged at the Chaminuka Lodge near Lusaka, Zambia, where they will spend 13 days (18 March-29 March) to writ­­e, read and discuss work in progress and to learn from award-winning author Jamal Mahjoub, the writer also known as Parker Bilal, and Ellah Wakatama Allfrey OBE, Caine Prize Deputy Chairperson, literary critic, editor and broadcaster.

This year’s participants include 2015 Caine Prize winner Namwali Serpell (Zambia), as well as 2011 winner NoViolet Bulawayo (Zimbabwe); Chilufya Chilangwa (Zambia); 2013 winner Tope Folarin (Nigeria); 2013 and 2015 shortlistee Elnathan John (Nigeria); 2012 and 2014 shortlistee Billy Kahora (Kenya); Bwanga Kapumpa (Zambia); 2015 shortlistee FT Kola (South Africa); Kafula Mwila (Zambia); 2015 shortlistee Masande Ntshanga (South Africa); Timwa Lipenga (Malawi); and 2014 winner Okwiri Oduor (Kenya).

Mahjoub, who along with Ellah Allfrey will facilitate the workshop this year, said: “The annual workshop allows writers a unique chance to develop their work and to see themselves as part of a literary community. It is always exciting to meet new writers and to help them realise their potential. The workshop is, in my view, one of the most important aspects of the Caine Prize.”

During the workshop, the writers will be expected to write a short story for the 2016 Caine Prize anthology, which will be published in the UK by New Internationalist in the summer, and subsequently by a network of co-publishers. Alongside Interlink in the USA, eight African publishers receive a print-ready PDF to print in their country, they include: Jacana Media (South Africa), Lantern Books (Nigeria), Kwani? (Kenya), Sub-Saharan Publishers (Ghana), FEMRITE (Uganda), Gadsden Publishers (Zambia), amaBooks (Zimbabwe) and Langaa (Cameroon).

The workshop will incorporate a visit to local schools and a public event.

Kapumpa, Ntshanga and John have been tweeting from the workshop:

Caine Prize director Lizzy Attree said: “As Namwali Serpell won the 2015 Caine Prize we are pleased to bring the workshop, for the first time, to her home in Zambia. We are also very pleased to be supported by Carnegie Corporation of New York.”

Jonathan Taylor, Chair of the Caine Prize Council, added: “We are hugely grateful for the support of Carnegie Corporation of New York for this important workshop in Zambia, which is likely again to be the launch pad for many successful literary careers.”

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Petina Gappah becomes the first Zimbabwean author to be longlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction

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Author Petina GappahThe Book of MemoryAlert! Petina Gappah has made the 2016 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction longlist for her novel The Book of Memory, becoming the first Zimbabwean author to be longlisted for the prize.

Just over a week ago, Gappah was also longlisted for the United Kingdom’s 2016 Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award – the world’s richest prize for a single short story.

The Baileys Prize was created with the intention of bringing “the best women’s writing and female storytellers to ever-wider audiences”. The 2016 longlist of 20 books features seven nationalities and four previously shortlisted authors. Over half the list are debut novels.

2016 Chair of Judges Margaret Mountford said: “We had a hugely enjoyable and stimulating meeting, as there were a great many strong novels in contention.

“We are delighted with the quality, the imaginative scope and the ambition of our chosen books, a longlist which reflects the judges’ interests and tastes. We hope readers will enjoy the variety of outstanding work on offer.”

The Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction is awarded to the best full-length novel of the year written by a woman and published in the UK between 1 April 2015 and 31 March 2016. Any woman writing in English is eligible.

This year’s judging panel is Mountford, broadcast journalist Naga Munchetty, writer and journalist Laurie Penny, author Elif Shafak and writer and singer Tracey Thorn.

The shortlist of six books will be announced on Monday, 11 April, and the 2016 winner will be announced on Wednesday, 8 June.

The winner receives £30,000 (about R658,000) and a limited edition bronze known as a “Bessie”, created and donated by the artist Grizel Niven.

The Book of Memory is Gappah’s debut novel, but her second book. Her first, the collection of short stories An Elegy for Easterly, won the Guardian First Book Award in 2009.

Full 2016 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction longlist:

A God in RuinsRush Oh!RubyThe Secret ChordThe Long Way to a Small, Angry PlanetA Dictionary of Mutual UnderstandingWhispers Through a Megaphone
The Green RoadThe Book of MemoryGorskyAnatomists DreamAt Hawthorn TimePleasantvilleThe Glorious Heresies
The Portable VeblenGirl at WarThe House at the Edge of the WorldThe Improbability of LoveMy Name is Lucy BartonA Little Life

 
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