African writers like Ukamaka Olisakwe, Zukiswa Wanner, Abubakar Adam Ibrahim and others are currently either in the middle of or headed to residencies galore.
“Artist-in-residence programs and other residency opportunities exist to invite artists, academicians, curators, and all manner of creative people for a time and space away from their usual environment and obligations. They provide a time of reflection, research, presentation and/or production,” say our friends Wikipedia.
There aren’t that many residency opportunities for African writers to take time away from their busy schedules updating their Facebook and Twitter accounts to produce on the continent. From my research, options for African writers in Africa are limited to the Ebedi residency which happens in Nigeria and the Stellenbosch residency that goes to the winner of the Writivism Short Story Prize. If you know of others we would be happy to share information about it to the rest of us.
While the opportunities are hard to come by on our rock, the writers are doing residencies in other continents and the easiest to track are those that happen in Europe and the US. The winner of the Etisalat Prize for Literature for instance gets to go for a residency at the University of East Anglia under the tutelage of Giles Foden. Songeziwe Mahlangu went for the residency last year and shared his experiences. We look forward to hearing this year’s winner Fiston Mwanza Mujila’s opinion of his experience.
It’s not just prize winners that get to enjoy the residency experience. One of the more famous residencies in the world today is the International Writing Program Iowa and this one has been hosting poets, fiction writers, dramatists, and non-fiction writers for decades. This year, those who are doing the residency from the program are the likes of Ukamaka Olisakwe, Obari Gomba, Shenaz Patel, Legodile ‘Dredd X’ Seganabeng, and Christine Yohannes. On this blog we have covered Ukamaka Olisakwe as she was one of the Africa39 participants and one of the most popular delegates at the Writivism Festival last year. Her novel is Eyes of a Goddess.
Another popular residency is the Sylt Foundation residency which happens in the island of Sylt in northern Germany. This residency organized in cooperation with the Goethe-Institut offers a two month international working stay at the Foundation to writers of contemporary African literature, who are related to or engaging with contemporary themes and concerns of Africa and the African Diaspora. In 2017, the resident writer will be Abubakar Adam Ibrahim who was recently nominated for the Nigerian Literature Prize for his debut novel Season of Crimson Blossoms. He is also the writer of the short story collection The Whispering Trees.
Also going the residency route of Zukiswa Wanner who has books like London Cape Town Joburg, Men of The South, Behind of Every Successful Man and The Madams. Wanner is currently doing a residency in Copenhagen called DIVA – Danish International Visiting Artists Programme. The program invite foreign artists to take up a network-building residency in Denmark.
So these are the writers current on or about to head on a residency. Do you know of any writers that are busy writing books at residencies?