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Chris P
10-03-2012, 02:18 PM
Muli mutya, African writers!

This is a thread to check in and tell us a bit about yourself, what you write, and to just hang out and chat about writing or whatever. Whether you are a native-born African writer, a native African writer living elsewhere, or an elsewhere-born writer now living in Africa (like me :)) feel free to contribute. Shoot, even if you're a non-native, non-resident, and just like to write about Africa feel free to join in.

Kulika, ne mweebale nnyo!

Chris P
10-03-2012, 02:28 PM
Since I started it, I'll go first.

I'm American by birth, and have had a love of Africa since I was a child watching the nature shows on TV. I first got to visit the continent in 1993 with my uni for a three-week Kenyan safari, and then my work sent me to Mozambique for a few weeks in 2007. Now, I'm a volunteer in the Peace Corps in Uganda, and I'll be here until 2014.

My Luganda is not nearly good enough to carry on a coherent conversation, let alone write a story, so I do all my writing in English. I wrote a novel between 2008 and 2010 taking place in Africa, but it had many, many pacing problems and now that I am here I'm doing a massive rewrite that I hope (nsubiira!) will be finished by spring--er, that's northern hemisphere spring. I'm writing other things too, and links to my published short stories are in the AW library (see my sig!).

SaraP
10-06-2012, 07:59 PM
Hey hey!

My only connection to Africa is the relationship my family has to Angola. My parents got married there, my older brother was born there, but the family moved back to Portugal soon after. I still have a cousin and an aunt living there.

I confess I have never felt attracted to any place below the Equator, for some reason, although I really enjoyed the book Out of Africa. And I will add that of all of my grandfather's trips (and he did LOTS), the Kenya Safari was his favorite. I've heard it said that once you experience Africa, the continent never leaves you. Maybe I'll have to see it for myself. :)

Chris P
10-10-2012, 03:27 PM
You'll have to come, Sara! And there's plenty of Africa above the equator. Once you get here you can live pretty cheaply. In some ways its a lot more relaxed (I don't worry so much about money, bills, schedules, etc) but it's not always an easy life (power outages, water outages, simmering unrest, crime, being constantly hounded because of my skin color). I'm glad I'm here. Not sure if I could do this long term. I'm here for 2 years, we'll see after that.

SaraP
10-11-2012, 12:47 AM
Above-Equator Africa feels somehow different... a more Arabian influence, maybe?

Robbert
10-11-2012, 04:40 PM
First off, thanks Chris for starting this thread and that lovely new creation, Above-Equator Africa :)


Above-Equator Africa feels somehow different... a more Arabian influence, maybe?

To answer your question: Yes, yes, no.

Of course, Above-Equator Africa is much more under Arabian influence because Below-Equator Africa isn't exactly an Arab stronghold. Looking at the map in more detail makes me want to say this: Egypt is the only truly Arab country in Africa. Needless to say that it has much in common with Sudan, Nigeria and the countries of the Maghreb since the Koran is the common denominator--language to a much, much lesser extent.

That said, the Maghreb is for the most part influenced by the Berber people. Although they were forced to convert to Islam many centuries ago, they have retained some of their customs and are for example looked down upon by many Arab nations for reasons of blasphemy (worshipping other Gods apart from the one and only prophet Muhammad).

Robbert
10-11-2012, 05:13 PM
In late 2007, I was en route to Senegal intending to sell my car, have a bit of a holiday and fly back into Europe. That was the plan.

The reason I feel invited to contribute to this thread has something to do with,
* never having gone further south than Morocco / Marrakesh,
* having stayed on ever since,
* and a Shell service station

I was sitting in a nearby Café while my car was in the Shell Lavage. Eventually I paid my Thé à la Menthe, walked back, and Bingo! My car was smackbang in the middle of the road. Accident. Crashed into a lorry (I had the car keys on me the whole time).


In some ways its a lot more relaxed but it's not always an easy life.

Agreed.
Next to my desk is a framed picture on the wall, depicting me as proud as a peacock in front of the court with a cheque in hand...
* three and a half years after the accident had happened…
* compensation amounted to two-thirds of what I had had to pay for the repair…
* reimbursement of court costs and lawyer’s fees are unheard of in this country…

It would be a dream to one day start querying agents with a MS where my characters are involved with Morocco’s good as well as bad sides.

Chris P
10-11-2012, 05:31 PM
Perhaps the Equator isn't the best demarcation line. Maybe the boundaries of the semi-arid regions would be better? Northern Uganda is very different than where I am near Kampala, but that's largely due to the historical kingdom structure in place when the Europeans arrived.

We have about 12% Muslims here in Uganda, but the culture here is much more Catholic and born-again Christian. You tend to get more Muslims as you go east toward the coast, not only in Kenya but also farther south in Tanzania and Mozambique. I've never been to North Africa, but the Muslims here and in Mozambique are much more African than they are Arabic, as would be expected since American Muslims are more American than Arabic.

I'd love to know more about the spread of Islam in Africa. Huge history that many of us (well, me, at least) know nothing about.

Chris P
10-11-2012, 05:35 PM
It would be a dream to one day start querying agents with a MS where my characters are involved with Morocco’s good as well as bad sides.

Go for it, Robbert! Africa memoirs are almost a genre unto themselves, as are Peace Corps memoirs! :) I don't have plans as of yet to write or publish a Peace Corps memoir; I'll have to let the experience sink in for a bit. My WIP Nyasaland (in my sig) was originally inspired by my two weeks in Mozambique (although it's all fiction) but I had to wait about six months before my recollections were coherent enough to say anything about them.

nemesis87
11-20-2012, 02:52 PM
South Africa anyone?

Chris P
11-20-2012, 03:18 PM
Hello Nemesis! I know we've had South African AW members in the past, but I don't know if they are still active. Whereabouts are you?

SaraP
11-20-2012, 06:38 PM
The South African thread is here (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=185357). Do remember you can post in both threads. ;) :D

lastlittlebird
01-03-2013, 09:05 AM
I only just found this thread and thought I would post.
I'm not from Africa, but I was in the Peace Corps ('04-'06) and was placed in Mali. Ever since leaving, I've wanted to go back, but it's become a lot more difficult now that they have had an uprising.
I did a book of semi-fictional poetry about my experiences in Mali for a masters degree in 2011 and have slowly been bringing it up to scratch so that I can hopefully get it published (as a whole, many of the poems have been individually published) one day.
It feels really good to spread little stories (which my poems tend to be) about a culture and place that is very different to New Zealand.

Which sector are you Chris? I was SED (Small Enterprise Development) but tended to just do a little bit of everything.

Chris P
01-03-2013, 10:29 AM
Which sector are you Chris? I was SED (Small Enterprise Development) but tended to just do a little bit of everything.

Officially I am Community Economic Development, and subsector is agrobusiness. PC-Uganda doesn't have an Agriculture sector, so they shoehorn any ag people into CED. I was originally nominated for Ag/Envir in the South Pacific, and Uganda was a last-minute change by the PC. My background is entomology and insecticides, and I came to the Peace Corps to gain skills in actually growing stuff. I spent all my time in a lab in my previous job.

Africa does inspire us to write, doesn't it? How close is the poetry to publication?

lastlittlebird
01-03-2013, 12:24 PM
I was originally supposed to be working in Health, then it changed to Education and finally, within the final week, to SED. :D They do switch people around a bit, don't they?

Entomology huh? You must be having a ball there if it's anything like Mali. I'm fascinated by insects and the variety and beauty of some of the ones I saw (and was bitten by!) astounded me.

Are you based in a rural area? I had some friends who were ag volunteers, but in my area the growing season was very short, so they generally tended to work on other projects for a lot of the year. It must be nice to get your hands into the soil after working in the lab :)

I could probably get my collection published right now (give or take a year of course) if I sent it around. I've actually got to the point where I am somewhat (a very small somewhat) known in the NZ poetry arena.
But I'm not happy with it yet and it deals with some important subjects, like female circumcision, and homosexuality, so I really want to get it right. I need to put a lot more work into it before I'd feel happy trying to get it published.
I do think I'll probably be writing about Africa for the rest of my life though. And that's a good thing :)

Chris P
01-03-2013, 02:36 PM
I'm pretty urban, actually. I'm between Kampala and Entebbe, and the whole area has seen pretty massive development in the last 15 or so years. That's actually good for my organization, as that means there are a lot of people around who want to know what we're teaching.

I keep going back and forth on whether or not to try to salvage my Africa novels. The first one was way too long, and started as a "buddy" novel that turned into kidnapping adventure. I was going to ditch the buddy part, keep the kidnapping and start over. But I just can't bear to part with the earlier version. Perhaps I have two novels here, and maybe that's what I should do. But I've been working on this for years, and I'll just go around in circles until I make a final decision. I hate to waste the words I'd written, but it might not be publishable and working on it more will only waste more time. *Sigh*

lastlittlebird
01-04-2013, 01:28 AM
I don't like wasting my words either, but sometimes I decide that the world "isn't ready" (ha) and just shelf them.
I do think that a buddy novel set in Africa would be awesome. I think that more novels should be written about Africa that aren't all doom and gloom.

Chris P
01-04-2013, 01:44 AM
I think that more novels should be written about Africa that aren't all doom and gloom.

I agree totally! I tire of the "Africa as the tragically wounded mother of humanity" motif. It's almost turned into a "noble savage" stereotype that's considered so insensitive. Yeah, we've got problems here, and many of those problems stem from the West's treatment of Africa since the 1400s, and even before if we include the Arab slave trade going back to the 1100s. But when that's all we can say about this place it's really limiting.

You've given me some hope for the buddy travel novel. I'll give it some more thought. Of course, the kidnapping novel (Nyasaland in my sig) is more likely to get picked up, and is probably closer to being done.

dsoul700
01-04-2013, 03:01 AM
I'm a writer from Nigeria, born and raised. I've published a short story collection, and right now trying to find a literary agent here in the U.S., who'd be interested in representing my novel that's an espionage thriller that takes place in the Niger-Delta oil region in my country.

I've grown tired of a lot of Nigerian writers only dabbling in literary type of stories. It's about time Africa produced writers who're able to venture into further genre.

Chris P
01-04-2013, 11:43 AM
Great to see you, dsoul! Sounds like an exciting story.

dsoul700
01-04-2013, 04:53 PM
Great to see you, dsoul! Sounds like an exciting story.

It is if I can get someone to publish it for me.

Chris P
01-04-2013, 08:21 PM
It is if I can get someone to publish it for me.

I'm not sure how much you've lurked around here, but read through the sticky threads in the "Query Letter Hell" section of "Share Your Work," write a kick-but query and start subbing.

dsoul700
01-04-2013, 08:27 PM
I'm not sure how much you've lurked around here, but read through the sticky threads in the "Query Letter Hell" section of "Share Your Work," write a kick-but query and start subbing.

Being there, done that.

Chris P
01-04-2013, 09:03 PM
Being there, done that.

Nuts. This is a pretty unforgiving business sometimes. Keep on trucking and don't give up!

lastlittlebird
01-04-2013, 11:15 PM
I'm really hoping to get around to setting a bunch of science fiction in Mali so between us we've got a few of the genres covered :)

I guess the fact that people seem to veer towards literary instead of genre when writing about Africa is a good point.... literary tends to be kind of depressing (not always, but often).

I wonder if it's got something to do with market expectations... people expect literary to be challenging and often from the viewpoint of a culture different to their own, but the perception is that genre will be something to read "for fun" and should stay "easier", or closer to home. This is wrong for a couple of reasons of course (genre can/should be challenging, and the familiar isn't necessarily easier... not to mention, there are many parts of Africa which wouldn't be all that exotic to a Western reader).

This is assuming that most major publishers are looking at things from the perspective of a Western market of course, I don't know how big a local market could potentially be.
I'm not the brightest tool in the shed when it comes to talking about this kind of thing though, so ignore me if I'm not making sense.

I hope you have more luck placing your novel dsoul. The Niger Delta is a fascinating setting for a story.

Trapjaw
01-13-2013, 02:57 PM
African writer over here - South African to be more exact, although I'm currently living in Taiwan. Glad to see there are a few of us on here who were born in Africa!

Chris P
01-13-2013, 04:30 PM
Good to see you, Trapjaw!

BradCarsten
01-15-2013, 02:44 PM
In some ways its a lot more relaxed (I don't worry so much about money, bills, schedules, etc)

African time- its a wonderful thing, that has to be experienced. Meeting's at 12:30, and half the people start arriving at 1, and nobody seems upset. :tongue

Chris P
01-15-2013, 02:58 PM
African time- its a wonderful thing, that has to be experienced. Meeting's at 12:30, and half the people start arriving at 1, and nobody seems upset. :tongue

Wow, you got people to show up at 1 for a 12:30 meeting? I want to know your secret to motivating people!

BradCarsten
01-15-2013, 04:01 PM
Wow, you got people to show up at 1 for a 12:30 meeting? I want to know your secret to motivating people!

haha so true.

Arislan
02-13-2013, 03:03 AM
I'm from Rhodesia but I live in Los Angeles. Have little memory of Salisbury except the one time they blew up the Woolworth's. We left in 1980 during the brain drain.

Arislan
02-13-2013, 03:04 AM
I'm a writer from Nigeria, born and raised. I've published a short story collection, and right now trying to find a literary agent here in the U.S., who'd be interested in representing my novel that's an espionage thriller that takes place in the Niger-Delta oil region in my country.

I've grown tired of a lot of Nigerian writers only dabbling in literary type of stories. It's about time Africa produced writers who're able to venture into further genre.

Nigerians need to pen more than stories about famous rich people afraid to leave their homes, needing help from strangers in transferring millions of dollar into their bank accounts. ;-)

Chris P
02-13-2013, 09:52 PM
Welcome, Arislan! And the novel about the son of the crown price needing money should be written as a series of emails.

Pooky
05-11-2013, 07:40 PM
Oh hello. ave is familiar. :)

Chris P
05-11-2013, 07:45 PM
Hello Pooky! Great to see you here! Tell us about you.

Pooky
05-11-2013, 07:49 PM
Hello Pooky! Great to see you here! Tell us about you.

Studying English at university in South Africa, never written anything aside from some stories at school, and now I have a short fiction assignment. :)

I have always wanted to start writing but find it so daunting and now that I have to write a story I can't think of anything to write about.

Been lurking these forums to try and find some tips, inspiration etc. :D

Chris P
05-11-2013, 08:22 PM
Studying English at university in South Africa, never written anything aside from some stories at school, and now I have a short fiction assignment. :)

I have always wanted to start writing but find it so daunting and now that I have to write a story I can't think of anything to write about.

Been lurking these forums to try and find some tips, inspiration etc. :D

Great! There are lots of ways to get started on a story. There are prompt generators on the internet, where they give you the title, or three objects you have to include in the story, or any number of things. Sometimes I take a stray sentence that pops in my head and use it somewhere in the story or one of those "I shoulda said . . ." moments and write out what would have happened if I did.

Hoe long does it have to be and is there a theme?

Pooky
05-11-2013, 08:43 PM
Great! There are lots of ways to get started on a story. There are prompt generators on the internet, where they give you the title, or three objects you have to include in the story, or any number of things. Sometimes I take a stray sentence that pops in my head and use it somewhere in the story or one of those "I shoulda said . . ." moments and write out what would have happened if I did.

Hoe long does it have to be and is there a theme?

Thanks, I will have a look at the generators or the sentence thing, it seems really useful.

It has to be 1000-1500 words, and we also have to write an analysis comparing it with one story from our course reader (eg. the method used) and also reference the material from Burroway's 'Imaginative Writing'.

The stories include 'What Language Is That' by Uwem Akpan, and 'Autopsy' by Ivan Vladislavic, among others.

Chris P
05-11-2013, 10:38 PM
Wow, I've not heard of either one of those. I'll have to look them up.

by_the_way
07-23-2013, 12:38 PM
Hi! Did I read correctly that there's someone from Uganda here? I lived for four years in Rwanda (just south of Uganda) and I just moved back to the States, my passport country, a month ago. I'm sure I'm not the only one feeling the absence from The Continent. I want to go back as soon as is humanly possible. Africa has a pull like no other place, you can't really stay away!

Chris P
07-23-2013, 02:42 PM
Hi! Did I read correctly that there's someone from Uganda here? I lived for four years in Rwanda (just south of Uganda) and I just moved back to the States, my passport country, a month ago. I'm sure I'm not the only one feeling the absence from The Continent. I want to go back as soon as is humanly possible. Africa has a pull like no other place, you can't really stay away!

You read correctly! I'm currently between Kampala and Entebbe with the Peace Corps. I'm halfway through my service.

What brought you to Rwanda? I've not been there (yet) but everyone who has says it's a great place to be.

thelittleprince
07-23-2013, 03:08 PM
Hi! So I'm not African but I did spend around 4 months in Africa a few years ago, most of them in Ghana. And I have written a children's Middle Grade book set in Ghana, which will be published next year :) So people are willing to publish African fiction!

I totally agree with those not liking the doom and gloom trend regarding books set in African countries - there are so many wonderful things to see and experience on the continent. I want to go back to Africa more than anything, but lack of funds and my location (I live in Australia) make it exceedingly difficult.

by_the_way
07-23-2013, 09:34 PM
You read correctly! I'm currently between Kampala and Entebbe with the Peace Corps. I'm halfway through my service.

What brought you to Rwanda? I've not been there (yet) but everyone who has says it's a great place to be.
How lovely to meet someone else from the EAC! I've been to Uganda twice before and I loved the life and energy there.
I was in Rwanda working for its first arts institution, pretty exciting stuff. Many of my friends were Peace Corps volunteers as well so I'm familiar with that lifestyle.
Rwanda is, in my humble and extremely biased opinion, the most beautiful place in the world. I highly recommend visiting sometime. :)

Chris P
07-23-2013, 10:35 PM
Hi! So I'm not African but I did spend around 4 months in Africa a few years ago, most of them in Ghana. And I have written a children's Middle Grade book set in Ghana, which will be published next year :) So people are willing to publish African fiction!

I totally agree with those not liking the doom and gloom trend regarding books set in African countries - there are so many wonderful things to see and experience on the continent. I want to go back to Africa more than anything, but lack of funds and my location (I live in Australia) make it exceedingly difficult.

Yeah, Africa's not convenient to get to from most places. I tell the people I work with it was twenty-four hours on airplanes to get to Uganda, the first thing they ask is if there are latrines on the planes. I keep picturing a concrete slab with a hole in it opening to the air.

The problem I've run into in my Africa stories is that although folks just going about their lives is the norm, doom and gloom is so much more exciting to write about. Just shows how much harder I need to work to overcome my own compulsion towards stereotypes!

Chris P
07-27-2013, 10:34 AM
Want a uniquely African story that's not doom and gloom? Check outthe short story "In the Spirit of McPhineas Lata (http://www.hoperoadpublishing.com/titles/in-the-spirit-of-mcphineas-lata-and-other-stories/)" by Lauri Kubuistile.

It's hilarious!

jinap
07-28-2013, 09:00 PM
Checking in here - an African in Canada. Anyone here published by an African publisher, or looking to be published by one? Just curious if anyone can share their experience about media/publishing in their part of Africa.

Chris P
07-28-2013, 11:39 PM
Hey Jinap! Where are you from in Africa?

I'm not published by any Ugandan presses, although I am looking into a publisher for a non-fiction booklet I put together with someone at a university.

Just from a consumer's point of view, there seem to be quite a number of small East African presses, and I imagine there are many across the continent, probably dominated by South Africa. In most cases, the East African books look like POD titles, and the paper and print quality is all over the place; some look as professional as any in the US or Canada, but I'd say the majority lag in quality as far as the ink and paper are concerned. Well, the stories are all over the place in quality too, just like anywhere else. I also suspect (I could be hugely wrong, of course) that there are few fiction-only publishers here. Most publishers put out a lot of school books, but also memoirs, essays/philosophy, inspirational, and other non-fiction.

I've considered trying for an African publisher for my novels or a short story compilation, but I have held off because I have no idea how good their distribution is and sales are likely to be low. Uganda is twenty percentage points below the global average in adult literacy, and although many people have laptops I never see anyone except bazungu with Kindles, so going the ebook route here is kind of silly. I hate to sound fatalistic, as I'm sure the right book published by an African publisher will do fantastically well, I just don't think my book is that one.

Chris P
08-14-2013, 08:09 PM
Just recently learned about the Caine Prize for African Writing. The 2013 short list was released in May, with links to the five shortlisted stories.

Happy reading!

http://www.caineprize.com/news_2013_shortlist.php

These five stories and others are available in print and ebook formats from the publisher:

http://newint.org/books/fiction/caine-prize-2013/

lclarkjr
02-06-2014, 11:04 PM
Bonjour! Cote d'Ivoire checking in...sort of. I was born in the USA, raised on the east coast until I was 10, and then moved to the Cote d'Ivoire for four years. That time-frame of my life is definitely in the top five best I have had so far. I still have many life-long friends I met there, married my first crush I met while there (We are back in the States now, though) (and no, I did not marry her while I was there...we stayed in touch for 23 years before we got married :) ), and have so many fond memories of West Africa. Seems like every time I flew into Burkina Faso a coup d'etat was starting or started only hours after I left...made me wonder what kind of magic power I had! haha

Although I do not live there now, I would love to return for a visit; however, the Cote d'Ivoire definitely shaped my thinking process and viewpoints on the world and her people. With that being said, there is a part of me that will always feel a tie to the Cote d'Ivoire and a part of me that considers Abidjan one of my many homes. (I am a citizen of the world that carries a US passport and happens to live in the USA at the moment).

Allez les Elephants!

Chris P
02-07-2014, 09:09 AM
Welcome lclarkjr! I've only flown in and out of Abidjan, but I have some awesome pics from the window of the airplane. Does that count?

I've spent almost all of my African experience in East Africa, but the two weeks I spent in Senegal were wonderful. All of Africa is wonderful in its own way, west Africa was just a different kind of wonderful.