Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Time Of The (African) Writer

March 19-24 is the 15th Time of the Writer International Writers Festival in Durban, uniting writers from across Africa and beyond to exchange ideas, connect and share what they know or wish they knew about the written word.

When you consider that Africa is widely considered the birthplace of the human species it is sad that we do not have more stories from the continent; more fables, more insights about our origins and how the experiences of our past might be influencing our present and possibly our future.

There are many factors which have led to a diminished literary contribution from the African continent. Wars; droughts which have led to widespread famine; and social unrest have made the continent a difficult place to survive, much less focus on literary skills. But this does nothing to reduce the importance of the tales which the people of this land have to tell.

I have never seen a lion in the wild; or experienced the difficulties of obtaining my water from a trickling muddy stream; had to live within the confines of a totalitarian regime, or experienced any of the horrors which I know have been visited upon many of the people of Africa on a near constant basis. I need them to share these stories with me so I might better understand the human condition, not just my slim view of life.

The event will feature writers from Africa, the Middle East and the Caribbean. It will also involve a celebration of South Africa's Human Rights Day, which is March 21, the same date as World Poetry Day.

The weeklong event is organised by the "Centre for Creative Arts (University of KwaZulu-Natal), the 15th Time of the Writer festival is supported by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund (principal funder), the French Institute of South Africa, Pro-Helvetia Arts Council of Switzerland, Goethe Institut of South Africa, City of Durban, Adams Campus Books, Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre and the University of KwaZulu-Natal."

It is open to writers, students, teachers and anyone with an interest in literature, regardless of where they are from, but I hope to hear that more stories from African writers will be forthcoming. For instance, I didn't even know there was a new genre known as "South African crime fiction." Now that I do, I want to read some!

What about you. What sort of stories would you like to read and what sort of writers do you want to write it?

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