Imagine being at a reading of unpublished work. How cool is that? Seriously. Doreen Beingana, author of Tropical Fish and Yewande Omotoso read from their upcoming books at the Miles Morland Panel. Yes, Doreen Beingana has an upcoming novel. The Miles Morland scholarship is one writers of African descent with previously published work can access. All you have to do is write. This year’s submissions are still open.
Julius Ocwinyo, author of Fate of the Banished, gave the key note address on Ugandan literature. He says there is no such thing as “English English“. To paraphrase, there are ‘Englishes‘ unique to every geographical area and he gave the example of the English of an American in Michigan being different from that of one in the Appalachian. So to say one is speaking ‘American English’ does not make much sense. The point he was trying to drive home though, is that we should be comfortable enough with our ‘Ugandan English’ as to write in it because when you use words foreign to you, your story loses authenticity. Suffice to say, I doubt he was discouraging learning of new vocabulary but rather, a different way to learn it. Through reading. Read and read and read and write and read and read and read and write. You get the point? On trying to write ‘universal stories’ about ‘serious issues’ he asked, “Which universe?”
The eternal question of what African literature is or isn’t. I think we cannot divorce the fact that we are African from our work as it is. Write what you will, as long as it is a good story. I think to try to define “African literature” is to box it in. One festival attendee argued that we should not reduce African literature to the whims and fancies of academics. Not paraphrased.
The winner of the inaugural Okot P’bitek prize for Poetry in translation was also announced.