Arts Alive brings literary giants together
Arts Alive brings literary giants together

If you are a lover of African literature and chasing autographs, then clear your diary and ensure you are at the Joburg Theatre from Thursday September 17 to Saturday September 19 for the third African Women Writers’ Symposium.

Held as part of the Arts Alive International Festival under the theme “Peace, Turmoil and Transformation: African Women in the World”, the three-day African literature gathering will be addressed by, among others, seasoned journalist, editor and author Rehana Rossouw, novelist and columnist Zukiswa Wanner, renowned author Antjie Krog, US best-selling author Sapphire, Dread Beat poet Linton Kwesi Johnson and South Africa’s award-winning poet, Keorapetse Kgositsile.

“The African Women Writers’ Symposium forms part of the City of Johannesburg’s plan to become the intellectual capital of the country and ties in perfectly with the celebration of our heritage in the arts,” says Member of the Mayoral Committee for Community Development Councillor Chris Vondo.

Event Coordinator Zee Cube says the symposium is a platform to celebrate the achievements of women authors and offers women the stage to shape the road ahead, not only through their writing but also in collective projects that can build intra-Africa relations.

“By staging the symposium, we’re trying to enhance literary relations with women of African descent residing in diaspora communities, as well as to listen to their own understanding and analysis of the African condition, especially the condition of African women,” says Cube.

Sapphire, the author of The New York Times bestseller Push will set the scene with a discussion on the role of the arts and being African in the world. The following night will feature a session under the title “The Drum is Woman: Celebrating the Life’s Work of Jayne Cortez”. Taking part in the session will be husband Mel Edwards, son Dernado Coleman and close friends Linton Kwesi Johnson (UK) and Kgositsile.

“On Saturday, ‘Writing History, Writing Fiction’ takes centre stage as the truth around fiction is interrogated by Pettina Gappah (Zimbabwe), Krog and Rossouw.

“This will be followed by five more sessions delving deep into ‘Overcoming Violence and Promoting a Culture of Peace in the African World’ featuring Yvonne Adhiambo-Owuor (Kenya), Sarah Jones (US) and Wanner (SA/Kenya). The fourth session, ‘Writing the Languages of Love’ panel, chaired by Kadija Sessay (Sierra Leone/UK), will feature speakers such as Myesha Jenkins (US/SA), Mmatshilo Motsei (SA) and Helen Moffett (SA),” says Cube.

The last session will see women in new media tackling their respective positions and influence.

The session – chaired by SA’s Got Talent judge Shado Twala and Simphiwe Mahala – will feature analyst Nomboniso Gasa (SA), Molara Wood (Nigeria) and Khosi Zwane-Siguqa (SA). Renowned speakers Odia Ofeimun and Yvonne Adhiambo-Owuor will deliver the inaugural Nadine Gordimer Lecture.

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