Writings of the general word's body

Monday, June 02, 2008

Word From Africa 2008

Word From Africa 2008 has come and gone. It was very well attended and immensely enjoyable, and at the end of the day (after the launch of the new anthology Dreams Miracles and Jazz: Adventure in African Fiction) we downed some Guinness Foreign Extra Stout in the British Museum to, as we say back home, “wash it”. I had one small glass of the dark stuff only, as I didn’t want to walk back to the tube station seeing stars.

It was a bit of a family affair for me, as several members of my family were in the audience, including one or two who just happened to be in town for brief visits from Nigeria – as were my kids. The panel I was involved in, came after ‘What Kind of English is That?, in which Ben Amunwa, Biram Mboob and Uchenna Izundu read and discussed Ken Saro-Wiwa’s Sozaboy. 2004 Caine Winner Brian Chikwava had come out to support fellow African writers, and was in the audience. I really enjoyed the session I was involved in, Imagine This... Prize-Winning Women Writers –featuring myself, Sade Adeniran and Karen King-Aribisala. I went first, with an excerpt from my story, ‘Written in Stone’. Karen King Aribisala read a short excerpt from her novel, The Hangman’s Game (winner of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, Africa Region, 2008). Then she put her book down and gave probably the most dramatic performance of the day by bursting into song. And poetry. And song. Hardly surprising, the first thing Sade Adeniran said on taking the stage to read (from her book, Imagine This, winner of the Best First Book, Africa Region in the Commonwealth Writers' Prize) was to declare that, “I can tell you now, I won’t be singing.” The question and answer session that followed was very interesting, and all three of us had this and that to say in dialogue with the audience. This session clashed with the storytelling (in Twi and Fante) session by Nana-Essi Casely-Hayford, which I heard was very popular with children.

Next session was Off the page translations, with readings from new books of African poetry as translated from one language to another. I was a late addition to the line-up of this session, as the Yoruba reader of 3 poems translated by Mark de Brito in his new anthology, The Trickster’s Tongue: An Anthology of Poetry in Translation From Africa and the African Diaspora. Other participants were Bashir al Gamar, Fathieh Saudi – and Isabelle Romaine (born in Cameroon and raised in Senegal, Romaine read poems by 3 Francophone African women writers including Werewere Liking – in English and French. The French renditions were especially powerful). Mark de Brito and I went first, and I had to read the Yoruba first, and Mark would read them in English. I read the following: Oriki Esu (Praise-poem for Esu); Oriki Orunmila (Praise-poem for Orunmila); and Ofo Abudi (Incantation). I really got into the spirit of the Yoruba poetry – especially on Ofo Abudi – so much so that I forgot I was in front of an audience. Wonderful. Mark de Brito (poet, critic, translator and musician) was born in London of Trinidadian parentage. He is a bridge builder, and has travelled extensively in Yorubaland, knows priests in Ile-Ife, Osogbo and other ancient towns, right up to the Yoruba of Benin Republic – building bridges between Africa and the Caribbean.

I was being interviewed by Vox Africa TV (3 ladies from Ghana, the 'big' Congo & the 'small' Congo – who conducted interviews with participants throughout the day) while the Dreams Miracles and Jazz launch readings were going on – so I missed it. Participating in this session were Ken Kamoche, Sefi Atta, Tony Adam Mochama, Mamle Kabu (who I was meeting for the first time; I’ve heard so much about you, I told her; I’ve heard so much about you, she told me) and Gitta Sumner.
Music was provided by the likes of Modeste Hugues; and Yoruba talking-drummer Ayan Ayandosu was in charge of one of the many art and craft and book stalls. Ensuring that all went smoothly for the rest of us were Africa Beyond’s Tessa Watt and the tireless Kadija George. And a lovely day was had by all.

  • These here are my pictures. My photographer-friend, Ade Omoloja took lots of images on the day, in addition to the official photos. Will upload some of these other images and do links when they become available.


Anonymous said...

Well done, Molara. It looks like you had a lot of fun, exposed more people to your wonderful writing and took much from the event. from PG in Geneva.

Wordsbody said...

Pg--thanks girl! It was a whole load of fun.

Anonymous said...

Hi Molara, Patrick here... it was really fun especially for me at the end because i emerged the winner from the crowd who filled in the questionnaire.
I received more presents than i could carry.

Wordsbody said...

Patrick, congrats (I didn't see my own unfilled questionnaire until the following day) - hope there are a couple of books in there.

You no see as we dey smile for inside black and white?

See you soon.