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Meet the African Writers & Artists Selected for AU20 Residency Programme

After an open call across Africa, 10 African writers and visual artists were selected for the AU20 Artists and Writers Residency programme out of close to 1000 submissions: 392 for the Writers’ Residency and 602 for the Artists’ Residency.

The goal of the Residency Programme is to use the voices of these creatives to celebrate Africa’s culture, creativity, art, and innovation to mark an important moment in the AU’s leadership of the continent’s development, unity, and peace.

Leslie Richer, Director of Information and Communication at the African Union (AU), said: “The AU20 Artists & Writers Residency Programme is an exciting component of the celebration of our organization’s history as it brings to the fore the voices of those that society has charged with preserving, celebrating and amplifying the diversity our African culture and heritage through their creative talent and skills, and likewise ensure their inclusion in promoting Aspiration 5 of Africa’s development framework Agenda 2063, which envisions ‘an Africa with a strong cultural identity, common heritage, shared values and ethics’.”

The Library of Africa and the African Diaspora (LOATAD) in Accra, Ghana, will host the five writers for the programme, while the Loman Art House in Dakar, Senegal, will host the five visual artists.

The programme will provide mentors, workshops, resources, and curated activities to help artists develop and complete their projects. The visual artists will spend three weeks at the Loman Art House in Dakar, with a public show on November 19. The writers will take part in a digital residency, which will be followed by a two-week physical residency in Accra. They will reveal their poems and short stories at LOATAD in Accra on November 26.

The 5 writers are:

  • Nour Kamel is an Egyptian poet and editor passionate about exploring her country’s relationship with the continent. Her poetry will explore the different and differing facets of identity and how Africans intertwine across nation-states.
  • Sukoluhle Nyathi is a Zimbabwean creative writer, editor and data analyst whose short story will engage with Africa’s economic liberation as a unifying goal for the continent.
  • Kenyan fiction writer and journalist, Tony Mochama, wants to tell a compelling futuristic African short story that cuts across generational and national boundaries on the continent.
  • Nigerian-born TJ Benson is an award-winning novelist whose short story will interrogate alternative structures that sprang up across the continent in response to COVID-19 and how they can provide relief in anticipation of future global events.
  • Award-winning Cameroonian writer Musih Tedji Xaviere’s short story is a futuristic piece that features Africa as a global superpower.

And the 5 visual artists are:

  • Eza Komlais a Togolese multidisciplinary artist whose work explores climate change and upcycles waste into artistic masterpieces.
  • Award-winning Ugandan artist Ronald Odur will use aluminium printing plates, copper wires and acrylics to create a sculpture that expresses the complexities of social and political interactions in Africa.
  • Ethiopian visual artist Natnael Ashebir will use painting, digital art, drawing and photography to explore urbanization and social structures.
  • South African Lerato Motaungis a fine artist whose work will weave the familiar and the imagined together to create a personal and intuitive evocation of the continent’s history.
  • Senami Donoumassou, from Benin, will explore identity, memory, heritage and history through photography and drawings.

Jide Okeke, the Regional Programme Coordinator at United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Africa, said: “Storytellers and creatives contribute to socio-economic development. They remind of us of our collective history, mirror current realities and inspire the future. We, therefore, welcome creative voices as part of the AU20 celebrations. By developing creativity, we are also creating sustainable development for Africa.”

The AU20 Artists & Writers Residency Program will end with a published anthology and an exhibition at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This will give their work a chance to be seen by African Heads of State and Government as well as other African and international dignitaries, citizens, and visitors who often visit the AU headquarters.

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