Chinua Achebe has written over twenty books – novels, short stories, essays and collections of poetry. His latest work is There Was a Country – A Personal History of Biafra. Achebe has received numerous honours from around the world, including the Honourary Fellowship of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, as well as honourary doctorates from more than forty colleges and universities. He is also the recipient of Nigeria’s highest award for intellectual achievement, the Nigerian National Merit Award; the Peace Prize of the German Book trade (Friedenspreis des Deutschen Buchhandels) in 2002; the Man Booker International Prize for Fiction in 2007; and the Gish Prize in 2010. He died in 2013.
Hugh Masekela is a world-renowned flugelhornist, trumpeter, bandleader, composer, singer and defiant political voice who remains deeply connected at home, while his international career sparkles. In 1960, at the age of 21 he left South Africa to begin what would be 30 years in exile from the land of his birth. On arrival in New York he enrolled at the Manhattan School of Music. This coincided with a golden era of jazz music and the young Masekela immersed himself in the New York jazz scene where nightly he watched greats like Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, Charlie Mingus and Max Roach. Under the tutelage of Dizzy Gillespie and Louis Armstrong, Hugh was encouraged to develop his own unique style, feeding off African rather than American influences – his debut album, released in 1963, was entitled Trumpet Africaine. His subsequent solo career has spanned 5 decades, during which time he has released over 40 albums (and been featured on countless more) and has worked with such diverse artists as Harry Belafonte, Dizzy Gillespie, The Byrds, Fela Kuti, Marvin Gaye, Herb Alpert, Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder and the late Miriam Makeba. In 1990 Hugh returned home, following the unbanning of the ANC and the release of Nelson Mandela – an event anticipated in Hugh’s anti-apartheid anthem ‘Bring Home Nelson Mandela’ (1986) which had been a rallying cry around the world.
Keorapetse Kgositsile is a South African Poet Laureate and activist. One of the most significant poets in the Pan-African movement, he was also the founder of the Black Arts Theater in Harlem, United States of America. He has studied and taught Literature and Creative Writing at various institutions in the United States and Africa since his first post at Sarah Lawrence College in New York in 1969. On the African continent he has lectured at the universities of Dar es Salaam, Nairobi, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Fort Hare. Kgositsile’s poetry includes Spirits Unchained (1969), For Melba (1970), My Name Is Afrika (1971), The Present Is a Dangerous Place to Live (1974), Places and Bloodstains (1975), When the Clouds Clear (1990), If I Could Sing (2002), and This Way I Salute You (2004). He also edited The Word Is Here: Poetry from Modern Africa (1973). Kgositsile has received numerous honours from around the world, including the Honourary Doctorate of Philosophy and Literature from the University of South Africa. He is currently Special Adviser to the Minister of Arts and Culture, Mr. Paul Mashatile.
Dr. Nadine Gordimer is a South African author, human rights activist and the Continent’s first and only female Nobel Prize Winner for Literature, recognised as a woman “who, through her magnificent epic writing has – in the words of Alfred Nobel – been of very great benefit to humanity”.
Wangui wa Goro is a researcher, translator, writer and a human rights campaigner. She has been involved in rights for race, gender equality and democracy for over twenty years. She is also a pioneer in translation of African literature and was on the International Advisory Committee for the Encyclopedia of the African Diaspora based at the University of Florida. She is currently an Associate Fellow of the Institute of Human Rights and Social Justice at London Metropolitan University, the President of Translation Caucus of the ALA and also the President of ALTRAS (African Literary Translators and Subtitlers Association).
Eugene Skeef is a South African percussionist, composer, poet, educationalist and workshop leader and has lived in London since 1980. He also works in conflict resolution, acts as a consultant on cultural development, teaches creative leadership and is a broadcaster. As well as being at the forefront of the contemporary music scene collaborating with innovative artists, he has also been instrumental in developing the education programmes of some of the major classical orchestras in the United Kingdom. Eugene is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and has served on the board of directors of the London Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO). He is on the advisory committee of Sound Junction, the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music’s award-winning interactive multimedia educational project. In March 2005 Eugene performed with his Abantu Ensemble at Buckingham Palace and was presented to the Queen as part of the historic Music Day to celebrate the diversity of culture in Britain.
In June 2008 Eugene and Richard Bissill’s &lt;strong&gt;&lt;em&gt;Excite!&lt;/em&gt;&lt;/strong&gt;, an orchestral commission by the LPO, premiered at the Royal Festival Hall at Southbank Centre, London.
Eugene is the Artistic Director of Quartet of Peace, an international project initiated by Brian Lisus, the South African luthier who has made a quartet of string instruments in honour of South Africa’s 4 Nobel peace laureates, Dr. Albert Luthuli, Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and FW de Klerk. Quartet of Peace uses music to bring about peaceful resolutions to conflict and poverty, with a special focus on young people.
In 2010 Eugene’s collaborative project The Battle Of The Wordsmiths (with writer Tunde Olatunji and producers Blue Hippo Media) was shortlisted for the PRS New Music Award.
He was a significant part of the BC Movement led by Biko in the seventies.
Mr. Thaba Mofumadi
Thaba holds a Postgraduate Diploma in Economic Principles from the London School of Economics, UK and a National Diploma in Telecommunications.
Serving as a public representative and political activist for a period of more than thirty five years, he has distinguished himself in the last Twenty years as a Finance and Economic Development strategist.
From 1994 to 2005, he led in the formulation and implementation of growth and development policies of Limpopo provincial government, including the management of the entire of the Provincial Budget. He has acquired vast knowledge and experience in foreign and direct investment and investment attraction.
Served as a Member of Parliament, and as the Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Finance.
An avid politician, humanitarian, and businessman, he is also a longstanding member of the African National Congress and has served in the National Executive Committees of the Congress of South African Trade Unions, SA Communist Party and the National as well as Provincial Executive Committees of the ANC. He was a member of the Executive Council of the Limpopo Provincial Government for twelve years, where he was responsible for Finance and Economic Development.