Meet 10 African writers and visual artists chosen to help celebrate 20 years of the African Union
8 November, Dakar, Senegal: The 10 African writers and visual artists who will contribute their creative ideas to the African Union’s 20-year celebrations were announced today as part of the AU20 campaign.
It is a partnership between the African Union, UNPD and Africa No Filter which set out to bring the voices of Africa’s creative talent into a historic moment that marks the AU’s leadership of the continent’s development, unity, and peace.
The 10 creatives were selected through an African wide call out on social media platforms and asked to submit their ideas in response to a competition inspired by the theme of “Our Africa, Our Future”.
The five winning writers will be hosted by the Library of Africa and the African Diaspora (LOATAD) in Accra, Ghana, while the five visual artists will be at the Loman Art House in Dakar, Senegal.
The residencies will allow the artists the time and space to develop and complete their projects whilst being supported by mentors, workshops and all the resources they will need. Visual artists will take part in a three-week residency in Dakar, with a public showcase of the artwork at Loman Art House on November 19. The writers will take part in two digital residencies on 3 and 10 November, followed by a two-week physical residency in Accra. They will showcase their poems and short stories at LOATAD on November 26.
The AU20 project will culminate in an eBook anthology and an exhibition at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia next year ensuring the works are seen by AU member nations and their delegations.
The five writers are:
● Nour Kamel, an Egyptian poet and editor. Her poetry will explore the different and differing facets of identity and how Africans intertwine across nation states.
● Sukoluhle Nyathi is a Zimbabwean novelist. Her short story explores the African Dream, migration, and creating a new narrative for Africa’s future.
● Award-winning novelist and poet, Tony Mochama from Kenya, is inspired by the African Union’s Agenda 2063. His futuristic story cuts across both the continent and generations.
● Award-winning Nigerian novelist TJ Benson’s prose piece inspired by the 2020 lockdown. It interrogates alternative structures sprang up to resemble each other across the continent, regardless of countries, and how they can provide succor in anticipation of future global events.
● Award-winning Cameroonian writer Musih Tedji Xaviere’s short story is a futuristic piece that features Africa as a global superpower.
The five visual artists are:
● Eza Komla is a Togolese multidisciplinary artist. His work explores climate change and upcycles waste into artistic masterpieces.
● Award-winning Ugandan artist Ronald Odur will use aluminum printing plates, copper wires and acrylics to create a sculpture that expresses the complexities of social and political interactions in Africa.
● Ethiopian visual artist Natnael Ashebir will use painting, digital art, drawing and photography to explore urbanization and social structures.
● South African Lerato Motaung is a fine artist whose work will weave the familiar and the imagined together to create a personal and intuitive evocation of the continent’s history.
● Senami Donoumassou, from Benin, will explore identity, memory, heritage and history through photography and drawings.
Leslie Richer, Director of Information and Communications at the AU Commission, said: “We’re excited by the writers and artists’ depiction of the continent or their country, and the power that art and literature have in celebrating and fostering African prosperity, integration and peace.”
Jide Okeke, Regional Programme Coordinator at UNDP Africa, said: “Storytellers and creatives play an important role in societies, they mirror realities and inspire the future, and we’re excited that creative voices are part of the AU20 celebrations. There’s no better way to celebrate Africa’s progress and development than through storytelling.”
Moky Makura, Executive Director at Africa No Filter said: “The late singer and songwriter Nina Simone said that it was ‘an artist’s duty to reflect the times’. We are asking these artists to go one step further and reflect the future of a continent. We often hear from politicians, businesspeople and economists – but rarely from creatives. I am pleased that these 10 talented artists and writers, young Africans will have their voices heard and accounted for in this celebration of the African Union.”