2020 Speakers

The 8th International African Writers Day Lecture

Decolonising Africa’s Literacy Heritage: Debunking Myths- A Look to the Future

Delivered by

Mongane Wally Serote

PROFILE

In the 18 years of exile, Mongane Wally Serote participated on various levels of the ANC structures in the mobilisation, planning, negotiations and in the struggle for the Liberation of South Africa in the Political, armed struggle and cultural sectors.

He was the head of the regional underground structure in Botswana, Head of the Department of Arts and Culture; member of the Regional Political Military committee in Botswana and in Britain. He was the cultural attaché of the ANC, in Britain and Europe. From 1990, he was head of Arts and Culture of the ANC in South Africa. He spearheaded the organization and mobilisation of the cultural workers through major festivals, symposiums, conferences in Botswana (1982), Amsterdam (1987) London (1990), Johannesburg (1993) which resulted in the formation of National organizations of writers, musicians, Theatre workers, Dancers, Photographers, filmmakers. He participated in the negotiations for the transformation of the international cultural and other forms of boycotts of the Apartheid system into structures of democracy in the new dispensation in South Africa. He received military training in Botswana, Angola and the Soviet Union.

Read full profile

Discussants

Dr Wangui Wa Goro  

Dr Wangui Wa Goro (born 1961) is a Kenyan academic, social critic, researcher, translator and writer based in the UK. As a public intellectual she has an interest in the development of African languages and literatures, as well as being consistently involved with the promotion of literary translation internationally, regularly speaking and writing on the subject.

She has translated the works of award-winning authors, including Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s satire Matigari and his children’s works Njamba Nene and the Flying Bus (1986) and Njamba Nene’s Pistol (1990), from Gikuyu to English, as well as Véronique Tadjo’s poetry book A vol d’oiseau (As the Crow Flies, Heinemann African Writers Series, 2001) from French.

Wa Goro’s own writing encompasses poetry, essays, short stories, fiction and non-fiction. Her short story “Heaven and Earth” (Macmillan) has been taught on the Kenyan curriculum. She has also been an active campaigner for human rights in Africa and Europe, and co-edited with Kelly Coate and Suki Ali the book Global Feminist Politics: Identities in a Changing World (Routledge, 2001). Publications to which she has contributed include Under the Tree of Talking: Leadership for Change in Africa (2007), edited by Onyekachi Wambu, and the 2006 anthology African Love Stories, edited by Ama Ata Aidoo.

She is a regular participant at the Royal African Society’s annual literature and book festival Africa Writes, among other events curating the symposium “Africa in Translation” that features writers, artists, publishers, translators, readers and scholars, under the aegis of SIDENSi, an international organisation set up “to promote translation, traducture and information knowledge management across disciplines”.

Over the years she has also been on advisory committees or boards of numerous organisations, including the Women’s Studies Network UK, the British Centre for Literary Translation, the Arts Council England, PEN International and the African Literature Association. She has serves as a council member of the Caine Prize for African Writing, for which she was a judge in 2007.

Dr Steve Sharra

Dr Steve Sharra is a Malawian author, teacher, teacher educator and education policy analyst. He holds a Ph.D. in Curriculum, Teaching and Educational Policy from Michigan State University, a Master of Arts degree in English Education from the University of Iowa, and a primary school teaching certificate from Lilongwe Teachers College. Steve has teaching and research interests in literary theory, Pan-Africanist studies, curriculum theory, and educational policy, among others. A lapsed creative writer in various genres, he has researched and published on decolonizing knowledge and knowledge production, teaching and teacher education, Pan-Africanism and global social justice, and uMunthu (Ubuntu) epistemology.

Steve is a former President of the Malawi Writers Union, and an Honorary Fellow in Writing in the University of Iowa International Writing program. He is also an alumnus of the Programme for African Leadership at the London School of Economics. He has taught at the Catholic University of Malawi, University of Botswana, University of Iowa, Michigan State University, and Baker College of Owosso (Michigan). He blogs at Afrika Aphukira and is on twitter at @stevesharra. He is based in Lilongwe, Malawi.

Facilitator

Prof Vuyisile Msila

Prof Vuyisile Msila is a professor at University of South Africa’s (Unisa’s) Leadership and Transformation. He is the former Head of the Institute for African Renaissance Studies at Unisa. He is a published author whose main interest is biography. He has also published poetry in various literary journals. Msila has also published several articles on culture, identity and language. His latest books include A Place to Live: The Red Location, and its History, Ubuntu: Shaping the Current Workplace with (African) Wisdom as well as Africanising the Curriculum: Indigenous Perspectives and Theories.