The 5th International African Women Writers Symposium


The 5th African Women International Writers Symposium, in partnership with the National Department of Arts and Culture took place at The Fringe, Joburg Theatre.

The 5th annual African Women International Writers Symposium (AWWS) include talks, poetry performance, masterclass writing workshops and panel discussions from leading local and international writers. The aim is to celebrate the achievements of women authors and to offer women a tangible platform to:

-Shape the road ahead not only through their writing but in collective projects that can build intra Africa relations

-Enhance literary relations with women in Africa and the African diaspora

Carine Mambou, the founder of CAD-Aid, participate of the symposium as a young woman writer with her first novel My Version of the Facts( a real life story). She share her story during the workshop at Joburg Theatre in front of more than two hundred people.

The symposium was feature the 3rd annual In Memoriam Nadine Gordimer Lecture. Jamaican poet Laureate and guest writer Professor Lorna Goodison participate in the poetry reading and panel discussions as well as run a masterclass writing workshop. She received the Commonwealth Poetry Prize for the Americas for her second book of poetry, I am Becoming My Mother (1986). She is Professor of English and of Afroamerican and African Studies at the University of Michigan.

In honour of Nadine Gordimer’s striving for freedom and justice and her assertion of a life of the mind and a writing life, acclaimed writer, Lorna Goodison presented the 3rd Nadine Gordimer Lecture hosted by the African Women Writers’ Network. Questions of memory, consciousness, slavery, colonialism and the quest for freedom were some of the issues that was raised by the eminent and renowned author.

In a country, continent and world still in the grip of the international capitalist divisions with economic prosperity largely in the north and poverty and underdevelopment in the south, writers are also seen as sages and intellectuals looked to for ideas and analysis inscribed in their writing or ways of seeing the world. They are also witnesses and observers. They have taken their place as thought leaders. Where femicide especially killing of women by intimate partners as well as violence against women are constantly in the newspapers and in the daily lives of women, where there has been an upsurge of racism and where the needs of the working people are vast, how do writers reside, resist and challenge the limitations to their freedom and to people’s freedom.

At the end of the discussion, Young Writers have to:

-Tells the African story with all its multiple narratives and nuances

-Navigates the challenges in writing, the perils and pitfalls of publishing and the possibilities of new media and the continuous quest for a vibrant reading and writing culture

In the present while many new authors are being published, there are yet more whose works are not seeing the light of day on the printed page. There are yet others who have focused on social media avenues and platforms for publicizing their works and making their voices heard. Questions of copyright and the rights of authors have also become topical with a new draft copyright amendment bill in parliament in South Africa in particular. What does the writer seek to gain from asserting her rights?