Writivism is an exciting Pan-African movement to improve the writing on the continent and to begin to have African literature decided and directed by Africans.
I heard about it first through a writer friend who is on their board.
I was excited about it for many reasons. First, that it is a home grown initiative.
Second, it operates on many fronts. There is an annual short story contest which awards prizes and puts out an anthology.
They also hold writing workshops around the continent for new writers.
After those workshops, participants are given mentors, more established writers from around the continent, to help them prepare short stories for publication and for the contest.
It is a holistic approach that really appealed to me which was one of the reasons last time I volunteered as a mentor and if they ask me to do it again, I will most certainly agree.
Last time the closest workshop for writers living in Botswana was in Zimbabwe, but we’re very lucky this time because they will be holding a Writivism workshop in Gaborone.
The multitalented Donald Molosi, actor and scriptwriter of the award winning play Blue, Black and White, will be the facilitator.
Molosi is also a short story writer, something I was not aware of until recently.
I read a piece of his flash fiction in Saraba Magazine called We Have Known Ironies which was very good.
It’s online if you want to read it.
The workshop will take place in January 2015 in five venues around the continent.
The other participating cities are Johannesburg, Dar es Salaam, Kampala, and Lagos.
To participate in the Gaborone workshop, an opportunity you really should not miss if you are serious about writing, you need to apply by the 31st of October, 2014. Rules include:
• You must live on the continent
• You must not have published a book
• You must submit an 800-1500 word sample of your writing which will be critiqued at the workshop
• You must apply online (Find the link at the Writivism blog here- http://writivism.wordpress.com/)
You should keep in mind that the workshop is a three day, non-residential workshop (meaning you must find your own accommodation).
Meals are also not included. Transport to and from Gaborone is not included either.
This workshop is for serious writers wanting to take their writing to the next level and are willing to invest in that.
Only the participants who show genuine commitment and quality writing will be assigned to mentors after the workshop.
The successful applicants will be announced at the Ake Books and Arts Festival in Nigeria on the 21st of November, 2014.
Since I had a bit of experience with the mentoring process, I don’t think people considering attending this workshop should undermine how valuable that aspect of the programme could be.
The right mentor-mentee relationship can be a huge help to a writer just starting out in this business.
They can help you improve your writing and can guide you to places for submission.
I gave my mentee readings to help her identify ways good writers write.
It will depend on the mentor, and also, as I found, with the commitment of the writer.
It is very exciting to see all of these indigenous writing initiatives cropping up around the continent.
Besides Writivism, we have the Ugandan based FEMRITE and the BN Poetry Award, and the Nigerian based Etisalat Prize.
There is such a gap between the recognition given to African writers writing off of the continent compared to African writers writing on the continent, and I think these initiatives can improve that situation and that is a good thing for all of us and for African literature.