African writers celebrate and call for diversity

Saturday October 16 2021
African Writers Conference

Book stalls were a hit with attendees at the African Writers Conference. PHOTO | CAROLINE ULIWA


The awarding of Tanzanian-born author Abdulrazak Gurnah of the Nobel Prize in Literature was a talking point at the recent African Writers conference in Dar es Salaam.

The atmosphere at the new library at the University of Dar es Salaam on October 9 was one of validation as veteran Tanzanian author Richard Mabala discussed the issue of a global narrative on the future of the African writer, the state of African literature and the hope of a renaissance.

Mabala argued that there is no one genre called ‘'African Literature’’ but rather ‘’African literatures.’’ His presentation stressed the importance of promoting Swahili and other African indigenous languages and its literature.

He questioned the gatekeepers of Tanzania's publishing industry, whom he feared were stifling creative writing.

“Imagination is key in any country’s development, even Einstein said so.” He also criticised the government’s 2015 decision allowing only the Tanzania Institute of Education to publish official textbooks for all public schools in the country. It was agreed that the move has had dire consequences for the private publishing industry who are the main pushers of Tanzanian literature.

A pre-conference teaser was held the previous evening at the Alliance Française grounds in Dar es Salaam, attended by literary stakeholders – publisher Mkuki Bgoya, writer Deus Lubacha, writer and trainer Anthony Onugba from Nigeria and Zambian author, editor and entrepreneur Malama Katulwende.


The conference is organised by the Writers Space Africa and the African Writers Development Trust.