Natasha Omokhodion-Kalulu Banda and Tsitsi Dangarembga

Tsitsi Dangarembga kicked off “Girls Friday” at Afrolit Sans Frontières Season 3 from Harare, Zimbabwe on May 29, 2020. She was hosted by Natasha Omokhodion-Kalulu Banda.

Afrolit Sans Frontières, a virtual literary festival for writers of African origin, started as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic international lockdown in March. It has had two iterations with Season 1 curated by festival founder Zukiswa Wanner in March and Season 2 co-curated with Maaza Mengiste and the founder in April. Season 3, with curation by Mohale Mashigo and Zukiswa Wanner, features 16 writers from 13 countries streaming from 15 cities in English, French, and Portuguese. All sessions run on the official Afrolit Sans Frontières Instagram page twice daily from May 25 to June 1.

The festival which started on Africa Day, May 25, has so far featured Dilman Dila in Kampala, Uganda, Tochi Onyebuchi in New York, USA, Vamba Sherif in Amsterdam, Holland, Ayesha Harruna Attah in Dakar, Senegal, Beata Umubyeyi Mairesse in Bordeaux, France, Max Lobé in Geneva, Switzerland, Masande Ntshanga in Cape Town, South Africa , and Mubanga Kalimamukwento in Minneapolis, USA.

The last day of the working week at Afrolit Sans Frontières referred to as “Girls Friday” started with the star power of Tsitsi Dangarembga. Dangarembga’s debut novel Nervous Conditions (1988) was hailed by Doris Lessing as one of the most important novels of the twentieth century and was included in the BBC’s 2018 list of the 100 books that shaped the world. The Book of Not (2006) and This Mournable Body (2018) complete the Tambudzai Trilogy. She is writing Sai-Sai and the Great Ancestor of Fire, a dystopic speculative young adult fiction. Apart from her novel writing, Dangarembga founded the Institute of Creative Arts for Progress in Africa (ICAPA) in 2009, and its publishing division in 2014. Her plays were performed at the University of Zimbabwe.  Her short musical Kare Kare Zvako (Mother’s Day, 2005) was screened at the Sundance Film Festival.

This first gathering of Girl Friday had technical challenges including connection and sound concerns from both the guest as well as the host leading to several sessions. When the first one had the writer exit with a connection issue, Afrolit Sans Frontières alum Rémy Ngamije and its founder Zukiswa Wanner joined the live to give their opinions on Tsitsi and her work. Eventually, the Zimbabwean found her way back for the final live that turned out to be one of the most stimulating we’ve had so far. Discussions ranged from how Tsitsi’s work has changed over the years, whether she preferred to work in film or writing, the prevalence of “Unhu” in her writing, the role of African female writers, and much more.

You can watch the one session we could share below.