Tuesday 11 February 2014

Creative minds assemble by Lake Victoria: reflections on the 2013 Caine Prize workshop, by Lizzy Attree

This is a belated post on the Uganda workshop in 2013.  As the next workshop approaches in Zimbabwe it seems fitting to reflect on the last workshop and include some pictures of the memorable experiences we had in Entebbe and Kampala.

Left to right: Pam Nichols, Rotimi Babatunde, Michael Phoya, Davina Kawuma, Abubakar Ibrahim,
Melissa Myambo, Veronique Tadjo, Elnathan John, Harriet Anena, Billy Kahora.

On the shores of Lake Victoria we assembled 12 talented writers at the Garuga Beach Resort Hotel where we were surrounded by spiders fat on swarms of lake flies, whose webs cocooned all the surrounding foliage.

We are immensely grateful to Beatrice Lamwaka and Hilda Twongyeirwe from FEMRITE for helping us to find Garuga.

And thanks to Goretti Kyomuhendo, Director of the African Writers Trust, for all her useful advice when preparing for the first Caine Prize workshop in Uganda.

We were joined by the 2012 Caine Prize winner, Rotimi Babatunde, as well as three of the writers who were shortlisted in 2012 (Melissa Myambo, Billy Kahora and Stanley Kenani) and four were Ugandan writers (Lilian Aujo, Hellen Nyana, Harriet Anena and Davina Kawuma); the other four hailed from Nigeria (Elnathan John and Abubakar Ibrahim), Malawi (Michael Phoya), and Botswana (Wazha Lopang).

Lake Victoria
During 10 days of peace and quiet the workshop participants write, read their work to each other, discuss and critique each story.  They were guided by Veronique Tadjo (Ivory Coast) and Pam Nichols (South Africa), who are both based at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa.

Lilian Aujo, Pam Nichols, Harriet Anena

Pam Nichols, Rotimi Babatunde, Billy Kahora, Veronique Tadjo

The only breaks included a visit to St Mary's High School in Kisubi where writers spoke to 150 students about the workshop and read from their work in progress.

Stanley Kenani reads to St Mary's High School
Hellen Nyana, Stanley Kenani

St Mary's High School

Later that evening we launched the African Violet anthology at the Barn Steakhouse in Kampala with our co-publishers FEMRITE and the help of the British High Commissioner Alison Blackburne and the British Council country director Peter Brown.

Alison Blackburne, British High Commissioner

Beverley Nambozo Nsengiyunva, Poet
Lizzy Attree, Caine Prize Director

The Barn Steakhouse, Kampala

The writers (Left to Right):
 Michael Phoya, Lillian Aujo, Rotimi Babatunde, Abubakar Ibrahim, Hellen Nyana,
Elnathan John, Melissa Myambo, Stanley Kenani and Harriet Anena.
Although much fun was had by all, the product of this intensive 10 day workshop is a high quality collection of short stories anthologised as A Memory This Size and other stories, which is co-published in 7 African countries.

The workshop in Zimbabwe will produce another 13 short stories, which collected with the 5 stories shortlisted this year (to be announced in May), will form the next 2014 Caine Prize anthology, published by New Internationalist in the UK.

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