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Comment & analysis

Kwani Lit Fest Faculty

Kwani Lit Fest

2008-07-09, Issue 386

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Kwani faculty comprises a selection of some of the most exciting contemporary writers from Africa and beyond. Setting new agendas, they will teach, explore, debate, read and engage through a wide ranging series of panel discussions, literary lunches, workshops, and readings throughout the 15 days of KLF.

This powerful collection of individuals regularly write for some 75 publications and media outlets between them including Vanity Fair, The New York Times, Granta, New Yorker, Conde Nast Traveler, The Province, The Guardian, The Observer, The Times, The Sunday Times, Harpers and Queen, Focus on Africa, The Economist, Wasafiri, Sable, Travel Africa, Chimurenga and more.

Chimamanda Adichie (Nigeria): Her novel, Half of a Yellow Sun, won the Orange Prize in 2007 and was a sensation in Nigeria for its subject – the Biafran war.

Doreen Baingana (Uganda): Author of Tropical Fish: Stories out of Entebbe, which won a Commonwealth Prize in 2006, among others. Her stories have been nominated twice for the Caine Prize.

Ishmael Beah (Sierra Leone)– His memoir, A Long Way Gone, that tells of his time as a child soldier has sold close to a million copies.

Binyavanga Wainaina (Kenya): Kwani? founding editor Binyavanga Wainaina is a Caine Prize winner and contributor to numerous international publications, including Granta, Vanity Fair, the New York Times, Mail and Guardian, and many more.

Aminatta Forna (Sierra Leone) – Former BBC journalist, writer and tutor, her creative non-fiction work The Devil that Danced on the Water chronicled the life of her father in opposition in Sierra Leone.

Simiyu Barasa (Kenya) - A Kenyan filmmaker and writer. He was Writer/Director of the Feature film ‘Toto Millionaire’ (2007) and has written for numerous Kenyan dramas like Makutano Junction, Tahidi High and

Wingu la Moto. His fiction has appeared in Africa Fresh: Voices from the First Continent. His opinions have appeared on NewYork Times, Nigerian Guardian, and South African Southern Times.

Dayo Forster (Gambia): Born in Banjul, her first novel, Reading the Ceiling, was short-listed for the 2008 Commonwealth Writer’s Prize Best First Book for the Africa Region. She has written articles for the East African, BBC radio, Farafina magazine and many other publications.

Stanley Gazemba (Kenya): Trained as a journalist, Gazemba lives in Kangemi, Nairobi and writes for Sunday Nation and Msanii Magazine. He is the author of The Stone Hills of Maragoli, which won the 2003 Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature, as well as 5 children’s books.

Parselelo Kantai (Kenya): One of Kenya’s foremost investigative journalists, Kantai is the former editor of the east African environmental quarterly Ecoforum. He wrote and oversaw the publication of “A Deal in the Mara,” which shed light on the corruption in the management of the Maasai Mara. He has contributed to a series of East African magazines and dailies and is currently working on a novel set during the 1970s Kenyatta years.

Muthoni Garland (Kenya): A Kenyan writer and publisher based in Nairobi. She writes stories for children and adults, including the Caine Prize-nominated novella, Tracking the Scent of My Mother and is the founder for Storymoja which encourages Kenyans to read for pleasure.

Jonathan Ledgard (UK) – Correspondent for the Economist and author of the novel Giraffe, he is a specialist writer in conflict, currently based out of Kenya.

Dr Lee (South Korea): Coordinator of the spectacular Jeonju Asian African Literary Festival, Dr. Lee is well versed not only in conflict, but in publishing and encouraging a reading public.

Tony ‘smitta’ Mochama (Kenya): A poet and journalist who lives and works in Nairobi. A Law graduate, Tony is also a vodka connoisseur, gossip columnist extraordinaire, and has a collection of short stories coming out soon titled – ‘The ruins down in Africa’. He has also been called a ‘literary gangster’, from time to rhyme. His collection of poetry, ‘What if I am a literary gangster?’ was published by Brown Bear Insignia in 2007.

Wambui Mwangi (Kenya): A scholar and a writer. She lives in Toronto and Nairobi, teaches at the University of Toronto, and blogs occasionally on Diary of a Mad Kenyan Woman. She is the Director of GenerationKenya, a new multimedia project that explores the identity of post-independence Kenya.

Yvonne Owuor (Kenya): A storyteller based in Nairobi, her short story Weight of Whispers won the 2003 Caine Prize, and she has recently completed her first novel, Red Rain.

Nii Parkes (Ghana): A poet, short story writer, journalist and songwriter, Parkes has been published in magazines and newspapers across the continent.

Shailja Patel (Kenya): Kenyan poet, playwright and theatre artist, Shailja Patel, has performed her work in venues ranging from New York’s Lincoln Centre, to Durban’s Poetry Africa Festival. Her one-woman show, Migritude, received an NPN Creation Fund Award.

Kalundi Serumaga (Uganda): Independent filmmaker, media consultant, and host of a politically focused radio show in Kampala that several politicians (including President Museveni) have vowed never to return to.

Monica Arac de Nyeko (Uganda): Winner of the 2008 Caine Prize for her story The Jambula Tree.

John Sibi-Okumu (Kenya): John Sibi-Okumu is a renowned Kenyan actor, writer, playwright, and teacher.

Rasna Warah (Kenya): A columnist with Kenya’s Daily Nation newspaper and an editor with the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT). She is the author of Triple Heritage, has contributed fiction and non-fiction stories to Kwani? and will launch her anthology at KLF 2008.

Neil Graham (Canada/Scotland) – Formerly a Kenya-based journalist, Neil Graham recently retired from teaching journalism at Langara College in Vancouver. He was perviously managing editor of The Province, one of Canada’s largest newspapers.

Dipesh Pabari (Kenya): Writer, Education and Communications consultant. He sits on the Editorial Board for Awaaz Magazine and Wajibu and blogs regularly on Sukuma Kenya. His short story anthology for children entitled, “The Unlikely Burden and other stories,” was recently translated into Kiswahili.

Andia Kisia (Kenya): Writer, playwright and perpetual student, Andia is a recipient for a fellowship at the prestigious Royal Court Theatre in London.

*For more information on the festival and the workshops go to the Kwani? website:

*Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at

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