Exploring Horror Fiction in Africa By Enajite Efemuaye

Panelists: 'Pemi Aguda, Geoff Ryman

I don’t like horror because it is about scaring people and scaring people is a way of controlling people. – Geoff Ryman

Speculative fiction covers a wide range of writing: science fiction, fantasy, magical realism and horror. For a lot of African writers, genre is almost often not quite the target but telling stories. And so there is a lot of fiction crossing over from one genre to another.

Exhuming the Author: How the Media Approaches New Writing By Enajite Efemuaye

Panelists: Kola Tubosun, James Murua, Anote Ajeluorou

Moderator: Oris Aigbokhaevbolo

An important thing for writers is how they and their work engage with their audience and one of the ways this happens is via the media.

The panel which was moderated by Oris Aigbokhaevbolo was made up of journalist Anote Ajeluoruo, Kenyan blogger James Murua and linguist/poet Kola Tubosun.

The panel discussion began with a poem by Kola Tubosun who read an adaptation of Wole Soyinka’s Telephone Conversation.

A lot of the discussion revolved around how the actions of an author or who they are affects how their work is received and handled by media.

Panel discussion: Prison Stories and Literature of Resistance By Lucia Edafioka

Panelist- Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Kunle Ajibade

Moderator- Molara Wood

Prison Stories and Literature of Resistance was the first panel for the last day of the 2016 Ake Festival.

To set the tone of the discussion, moderator Molara Wood, introduced both panellists who had been imprisoned by authoritarian governments- Prof Ngugi was imprisoned by Jomo Kenyatta for his writings, Kunle Ajibade was imprisoned by one of Nigeria’s most cruel dictators, Sani Abacha for being part of a coup to topple his government and they read excerpts from the their prison memoirs.

Book Chat- Known and Strange Things, Chibok Girls - Lucia Edafioka

Authors- Teju Cole, Helon Habila

Moderator- Kadaria Ahmed

The Cinema Hall at Kuto Cultural Centre was packed full for the book chat between two of Nigeria’s finest authors, Teju Cole and Helon Habila. The chat which was moderated by Kadaria Ahmed, a renowned journalist, was on the newly released books by both authors.

The books – Known and Strange things and Chibok Girls are nonfiction work by both authors. While Teju Cole’s book is a collection of essays, Helon Habila’s described his book as long form journalism which was compiled into a book.

Discussions on the books began with Teju Cole who had written an essay on the Chibok girls’ kidnap. Kadaria Ahmed asked why Teju Cole wrote the essay and why the essay had no additional information that wasn’t already available on the kidnap of the girls.

Legs Open, Eyes Closed: Sensuality in New Africa Writing - Lucia Edafioka

Panelists- Chinelo Okparanta, Toni Kan, Kiru Taye, Nana Darkoa

Moderator- Kolade Arogundade

This panel was one of the most looked-forward-to panels in this year’s festival and the turnout for the panel which held in the chat room was one of the largest since the start of the festival.

The Legs Open, Eyes Closed:  Sensuality in New Africa Writing panel opened with Kolade Arogundade asking the panellists why they started writing romance, sex, and erotic fiction.

Book Chat: The Moors Account, The Maestro Magisterate and The Mathematician-IfeOluwa Nihinlola

Author: Laila Lalami, Tendai Huchu

Moderator: Zukiswa Wanner

Zukiswa Wanner moderated the book chat on Laila Lalami’s The Moor’s account and Tendai Huchu’s The Mestro, The Magistrate and The Mathematician.

Starting with the identity of the Mustafa, the central character in her novel, Laila said “I see identity as something that is fluid.” She spoke of often getting the question “What are you, not who are you.” And how that shows people “trying to figure out what is your actual national origin.”

History in Fiction: Book Chat with NoViolet Bulawayo and Jennifer Makumbi - Enajite Efemuaye

I use history as a way to tell my story but when history is standing in the way, I twist it. – Jennifer Makumbi

We Need New Names was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2013 and won the inaugural Etisalat Prize for Fiction in the same year. Kintu is being hailed as the great Ugandan novel, and at the book chat with the writers of book books you could easily tell why.  The love and work and sweat that went into the writing of both novels was evident in the way they spoke of their books.

From the Land of the Flame Lily: New Fiction from Zimbabwe - Enajite Efemuaye

Panelists: Tendai Huchu, Panashe Chigumadzi, NoViolet Bulawayo

Moderator: Ranka Primorac

Following their presence on different panels, three Zimbabwean writers came together in a discussion to talk about their work and country.

Tendai Huchu, NoViolet Bulawayo and Panashe Chigumadzi sat with Ranka Promorac as moderator who set the ball rolling by asking the panelists how the past fifty years of Zimbabwe’s history impacted them as writers.

“To ask me to exclude the things in the country I was born is asking too much, it is my reality,” Tendai said. “Zimbabwe for the past 200 years is a particularly interesting place and it was only natural for my imagination to reside in Zimbabwe,” Panashe added. She revealed that while her family had left Zimbabwe when she was three to live in South Africa, she never stopped being Zimbabwe partly because her father kept her country alive for her and being Zimbabwean in South Africa sort of made her stand apart.

Defining Home: Place and Displacement in African Writing - IfeOluwa Nihinlola

Using Taiye Selasi’s TED Talk as a launching pad, Wana Udobang opened the panel on Defining Home: Place and Displacement in African Writing by asking Sarah Ladipo Manyika, Yewande Omotosho and Teju cole about what home is to them.

Sarah said, “Home to me is quite a fluid concept.”

“I think mother and home are very connected for me,” Yewande said, “just from a personal perspective. And home has always been complex, or fluid.

“When I lost my mother, the concept of home got a lot more complex.”

For Teju Cole, “Home is where your people are. …People who share certain sympathies with you, but also have certain general broad bases on which to think of what society should look like.”

Wana directed the conversation towards hyphenated identities, and Yewande said, “I think we all have hyphenated identities, actually. It might be specificity around body; or there might be other things distinct from nationality.” Her characters are always hyphenated in some way, she said, without minding what race they are or if they are from two countries.

On Age and Race: Book Chat with Yewande Omotoso and Sarah Ladipo Manyika - Enajite Efemuaye

In 2013, Yewande Omotoso was shortlisted for the Etisalat Prize for Fiction. In the same year, Sarah Ladipo Manyika was the Chair of Judges for the prize. This first connection between the writers was pointed out by Emma Shercliff who moderated a book chat in which both writers discussed their books, The Woman Next Door and Like a Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun.

“My book is about two women in their eighties who hate one another. The story deals with being in the last stage of life and also deals with race. One of the women is South African and white, the other is a black woman from Barbados,” Yewande said by way of introducing her book. Sarah’s book also had similar themes as one of her major characters is a Nigerian woman in her seventies living in San Francisco and encountering different characters.

A Chadian Tragedy: A Documentary and Conversation - IfeOluwa Nihinlola

The first close-up of a body in the documentary, Hissène Habré: A Chadian Trajedy, is that of a man with deep cuts on his neck, chin and ribs. None of the words of the narration that precedes this close-up, describing the events leading to the images we’re about to encounter, prepares the eyes and mind for the viscerally of that image. The documentary, screened at the festival to a packed Cinema Hall, is about the survivors of the Hissène Habré’s crimes in Chad.

With Clement Abaifouta as guide, the camera moves through the houses of victims, roving over their faces as they describe the horrors faced in the hands of the dictator’s men. Hissène Habréruled Chad from 1982 to 1990, and in that time, over 40,000 people were killed, and many more enslaved, imprisoned, maimed, and made victims of other horrifying acts. There’s a banner on a wall that depicts images of the torture some of the people interviewed said they couldn’t describe to other people.

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