The writers taking part in Season 5 of Afrolit Sans Frontières which runs from July 27 to August 3, 2020 have been revealed. The festival theme is “Journeys.”
Afrolit Sans Frontières, a virtual literary festival for writers of African origin, was founded by author and publisher Zukiswa Wanner as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic international lockdowns. The festival format is two sessions a day on Instagram Live with an artist moderated by a host who also fields questions from audience members. There have been four editions running every month since they begun; Season 1 from March 23-30, Season 2 from April 20-27, Season 3 from May 25 – June 1, and Season 4 from June 29-July 6.
The writers taking part in the fifth season, curated by founder Zukiswa Wanner with festival partner eduniperiferias, have been announced. They are Margaret Busby, Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀, Conceição Evaristo, L.L. McKinney, Sisonke Msimang, Gauz, Fiston Mwanza Mujila, Makanaka Mavengere, Frances Mensah Williams, Joe Khamisi, Helon Habila, Kayo Chingonyi, Lerato Mogoatlhe, Ashley Hickson-Lovence, Rodrigo França, and Djamila Ribeiro.
Below are their bios.
Margaret Busby is a major cultural figure around the world. Born in Ghana and educated in the UK, she became Britain’s youngest and first black woman publisher when she co-founded Allison & Busby in the 1960s. A writer, editor, broadcaster, and literary critic, she has judged numerous literary awards, including the Booker Prize, received many honours and served on several boards, among them the Royal Literary Fund, Wasafiri and the Africa Centre in London.
Conceição Evaristo is a writer. Fictionist and essayist. PhD in Comparative Literature from Universidade Federal Fluminense (UFF). Her first publication (1990) was in the series Cadernos Negros of the Quilombhoje group. She has seven published books, among them Olhos D’água (2015), winner of the Jabuti Award, and five works translated into English, French, Spanish and Arabic. She was awarded the Master of the Peripheries Award, by Instituto Maria e João Aleixo (2018), Nicolás Guillén Literature Award by the Caribbean Philosophical Association (2018) and Jabuti Award for literary personality (2019).
Helon Habila teaches creative writing at George Mason University. He is the author of four novels, the latest of which is Travelers, about African migrants in Europe. He is the author of the nonfiction book, The Chibok Girls, and editor of the Granta Book of African Short Story. He is a contributing editor to the VQR. His many awards include The Virginia Library Fiction Prize, and the Windham-Campbell Prize for Fiction. He lives in Centreville, VA, USA.
Born in Abidjan, a biochemist by training, Gauz arrived in France in 1999 for the official reason of finishing his studies in biochemistry, and for the unofficial reason of “seeing elsewhere”. An undocumented time, Gauz aligns professional experiences of all kinds (from gardener to database designer, from vigil to consultant at La Francophonie, etc.) he launched out as a screenwriter in 2004, then became documentary maker, photographer, director of ‘an economic newspaper, editor-in-chief of a webmagazine, promoter of a literary prize … Since 2011, he has returned to live in Ivory Coast and now divides his life between Grand-Bassam and Paris.
Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀ is the author of Stay with Me, which won the 9mobile Prize for Literature and was shortlisted for the Kwani? Manuscript Prize, the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction and the Wellcome Book Prize. It was longlisted for the International Dublin Literary Award, the International Dylan Thomas Prize and Prix Les Afrique.
Rodrigo França is a cultural articulator, actor, director, playwright and visual artist. In 1992, he started his acting career in theater and cinema. He has worked in quarantine and two shows as an actor and eight as a director. He wrote seven theatrical performances, among them: O Pequeno Príncipe Preto, Capiroto and Inimigo Oculto. His last works are “Oboró – Masculinidades Negras”, “Yabá – black women”, “Love as a revolution” and “Enleador of worlds”, where he signs direction.
He wrote the books The Little Black Prince and Confinements & the like: the look of a black man on representativeness and resistance.
Kayo Chingonyi’s debut collection, Kumukanda (Chatto & Windus, 2017) was a Guardian and Telegraph Book of the Year, and the winner of the 2018 International Dylan Thomas Prize and a Somerset Maugham Award. A former Burgess Fellow at the Centre for New Writing, University of Manchester, and Associate Poet at The Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, Kayo is now Poetry Editor for The White Review, and an Assistant Professor in the Department of English Studies at Durham University. He has performed his work at festivals and events around the world. A Blood Condition, a new collection of poems, will be published by Chatto & Windus, and his memoir Prodigal, is forthcoming with Picador.
Leatrice “Elle” McKinney, writing as L.L. McKinney, is an advocate for equality and inclusion in publishing and creator of the hashtags #PublishingPaidMe and #WhatWOCWritersHear. A gamer, Blerd, and adamant Hei Hei stan, her works include the Nightmare-Verse books, starting with the A Blade So Black trilogy, and an upcoming graphic novel for DC featuring Nubia.
Sisonke Msimang is a South African writer and the author of two books of non-fiction – Always Another Country and The Resurrection of Winnie Mandela.
Fiston Mwanza Mujila
Fiston Mwanza Mujila was born in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo, and now lives in Graz, Austria. His selected bibliography includes the Man Booker International Prize-longlisted novel Tram 83 (2014), the poetry collections Craquelures (2011), Le Fleuve dans le ventre (2013), and Soleil privé de mazout (2016), three plays published as Et les moustiques sont des fruits à pépins; Te voir dressé sur tes deux pattes ne fait que mettre de l’huile sur le feu (2015), and Zu der Zeit der Königinmutter (2018). His writing foregrounds its debt to jazz, responds to political turbulence in his native country and its effects on everyday life, and displays an often incandescent, improvisatory verbal energy, replete with bouts of irreverent humour and surprising tonal shifts. He is the recipient of many literary prizes, including, most recently, the Peter-Rosegger-Literaturpreis (Austria, 2018).
Brazilian human rights activist and author Djamila Ribeiro was born in the port city of Santos. She went on to study political philosophy at UNIFESP, one of the best universities in Brazil. Djamila is now one of the most popular writers and public figures in the Afro-Brazilian women’s rights movement. Her blog has hundreds of thousands of followers and she regularly makes public appearances to discuss the lives of women in Brazil, a country in which people of colour experience exceptional levels of violence and prejudice. Her most recent book is Nos, Madelenas: uma palavra pelo feminismo (trans: We Magdalenes: a word for feminism). In 2016, Djamila was appointed sub-secretary of Human Rights for the City of Sao Paulo, a position which she continues to hold.
Makanaka Mavengere is an author, playwright and screen writer who has an Accounting degree and was born and raised in Harare, Zimbabwe but currently resides in Johannesburg, South Africa. Her debut novel Perfect Imperfections was published in August 2019 by Black Bird Books in South Africa. She wrote a play Maid in The Mirror which was produced and stage read at the Almasi Collaborative Conference in Harare Zimbabwe in January 2020 and she has been working as a freelance scriptwriter her latest work being for a feature film Loving Thokoza available on Showmax.
Joe Khamisi is a Kenyan writer, former journalist, diplomat, and Member of Parliament. He divides his time between Kenya and the US where he does most of his writing. He is the author of five books: The Politics of Betrayal, Dash Before Dusk, an autobiography, the Wretched Africans, Looters and Grabbers, and The Bribery Syndrome. He is currently writing his first fiction book expected for release later in the year. Joe Khamisi is a graduate of the University of Maryland University College.
Frances Mensah Williams
Frances Mensah Williams is a Ghanaian-born writer and publisher, and the author of several fiction and non-fiction books.
Resident in London, she is the author of the novels From Pasta to Pigfoot (2015) and the sequel From Pasta to Pigfoot: Second Helpings (2016). On its publication, From Pasta to Pigfoot was selected by WH Smith as one of the top 25 of its 100 Summer Reads and explores contemporary middle-class Africa. Described as a ‘coming of culture’ novel, it follows Ghanaian-born Londoner Faye Bonsu’s journey to Ghana to find her cultural home and reconcile her conflicting identities. The novel explores in a light-hearted way the deep challenges and tragi-comic clash of cultures faced by younger generations of Africans in the diaspora.
Her latest novel, Imperfect Arrangements (2020), is set in Ghana and follows the entangled lives and loves of three best friends and their partners.
Frances is the author of two non-fiction titles: Everyday Heroes – Learning from the Careers of Successful Black Professionals (2011) and ‘I Want to Work in Africa – How to Move Your Career to the World’s Most Exciting Continent’ (2014 and the publisher and Managing Editor of ReConnect Africa.com, an online careers and business magazine for global African professionals.
Lerato Mogoatlhe is a journalist who worked for eight years at publications that include Sunday Times, City Press, DRUM, True Love and Cosmopolitan. She has written for Mail & Guardian, Marie Claire, Hercules Spain and the Sunday Independent. She has also worked extensively in digital marketing. She is the author of the travel memoir Vagabond.
Ashley Hickson-Lovence was born in London in 1991. He is a former secondary school English teacher and is currently completing his PhD in Creative and Critical Writing at the University of East Anglia. His debut novel The 392 was released in April 2019 and he is currently editing his second novel.