In our April Fools Day prank, we introduce a fictitious initiative to bring African writers into contact with what is happening on the continent. Were you fooled?

African Writers Reconnect, a new initiative to assist clueless writers of African descent who want to tap into what is happening in African literature was announced today April 1, 2021.

For many years, the writers of African descent abroad were the most important names in the pantheon of the work representing our people. The world revolved around those who lived outside of the continent who stood toe to toe with the best the world has to offer. In the last decade and a half, there has been a shift as more and more writers produce world-class quality locally. To add to that, as opposed to the past where the whole scene was based in the global north, there is a new circuit with literary festivals, awards, and more on the continent.

While the Africans on the continent have mechanisms to know what those in The Abroad are up to, it is a bit harder for those who are outside to know what is happening on the rock. A new initiative to address this issue bringing together two of the leading names in South African and Nigerian literature has been announced. The initiative called “African Writers Reconnect,” spearheaded by South African Siphiwo Mahala and Nigerian Toni Kan, is a series of events running virtually for months.

“I travelled a lot in my career. One of the things I noticed is how little people knew about what was happening outside of their lives whether they live on the continent or outside and I decided to bridge this gap,’ Siphiwo Mahalo said. “My first initiative is the Imbiza Journal for those who live on the continent which launches this month. We shall be launching the initiative for the clueless African diaspora writers later in the year.”

Siphiwo Mahala
Siphiwo Mahala

Siphiwo Mahala is the author of When A Man Cries (2007), African Delights (2011) (our review), and Red Apple Dreams (2019). He has also written the play The House of Truth (2017).

His new initiative is ran in partnership with Nigerian Toni Kan who he met at a literary event organised by Committee for Relevant Art (CORA) as part of its Nigeria-South Africa Week in Lagos in 2012. Kan, known for his knowledge of the Lagosian scene, is popularly referred to as the “Mayor of Lagos.” He is the author of Ballad of Rage (2003), Songs of Absence And Despair (2009), The Carnivorous City (2016), Nights of the Creaking Bed (2019, reissued) and the poetry collection When a Dream Lingers Too Long: Poems (2002). Kan is also one of two founders, alongside Dami Ajayi, of The Lagos Review.

Toni Kan

“When Siphiwo spoke to me about connecting all the Africas, it was not difficult to make the shift I know how interconnected we all are as a Nigerian,’ Kan Said.

The new initiative announced today promises to start with the announcement of the mentors to guide African writers of the initiatives, individuals, and organisations to support as they have legs.

We shall be keeping you abreast of this new initiative in future posts.