Stories may remain untold for many reasons. Sometimes the people with the most valuable stories to tell cannot access existing audiences and markets, let alone reach new ones. Creative non-fiction can reach out and move readers where fiction falls short, or simply fails to inspire action. Commonwealth Writers runs craft development workshops so that emerging writers acquire confidence and skill in areas such as editing and in making decisions about how to choose initial source material. Subsequent to the workshops Commonwealth Writers continues to facilitate the group’s work in a private online space.
The first workshop, led by Ellah Allfrey, Chair of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize 2014, and Mark Gevisser, from South Africa, was held in Uganda. The participants were drawn from five East African countries: Rwanda, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya. The five day intensive workshop looked at all aspects of creative non-fiction and included visits from two UK agents, David Godwin (David Godwin Associates) and Juliet Pickering (Blake Friedmann). Billy Kahora also visited the workshop to talk about his work as Managing Editor of Kwani?.
Creative Non-Fiction, Uganda, 2014, Workshop Participants
Patricia Achiro Olwoch
Facebook: Achiro P. Olwoch
Patricia Achiro Olwoch comes from Gulu, in Northern Uganda. She has written four books, and self-published her first cookbook. Patricia has also written two feature films, fifteen short films, two of which have been produced, and has written three stage plays. She has recently created and written two TV series that will be aired on Mnet Africa across Africa and Urban TV in Uganda. Her books, films and plays are all based on real life situations. Patricia currently works as a freelance writer.
Facebook: Robert Atuhairwe Rwase
Robert Atuhairwe was born on 2 October 1980, in a village called Kyandahi, Kagongi sub county, Kashaari County in Mbarara district, Western Uganda. After relocating to Kampala he continued his eduction in Mbarara and Mukono districts before studying journalism at Uganda Christian University. Robert worked as a reporter and editor with Red Pepper and is now a media liaison officer. His lifetime goal is to be an influential figure and author of repute. He believes in Ecclesiastes 12:12: “There is no end to the writing of books”.
Angella Jacqueline Emurwon
Angella J. Emurwon is a writer, stage director and award winning playwright who lives and works in Tororo, Uganda. She is best known for The Cow Needs a Wife (2010), which won the third prize of the 2010 BBC African Performance Playwriting Competition, and Sunflowers behind a Dirty Fence (2012). Angella is currently writing and rewriting her first stage play, is chasing her dream to become a non-fiction writer … and is also attempting an anthology of short stories.
Facebook: Adelina Mbekomize
Adelina Mbekomize is 26 years old, was born in Tanzania, raised in Southern Africa, and returned home in 2012 to pursue her career. Adelina is a Programme officer at the Society for International Development (SID), regional Tanzanian office, where she provides research, analysis and intellectual support for the programmes. She regularly drafts Rockefeller trend monitoring newsletters, which provide on-the-ground, forward-looking analysis, on a variety of development issues in the Greater Horn of East Africa. She aspires to be ‘a force to be reckoned with’ in whatever industry she finds her greatest purpose.
Facebook: Esther-Karin Mngodo
Esther Karin Mngodo is a writer based in Dar Es Salaam, currently working with The Citizen newspaper as a Senior Features Writer. Esther’s passion is to write stories about women, children, education, religion and literature. She is also intrigued about things that make us different yet the same, and human behaviour and psychology fall in that category.
Apart from writing for work, Esther is also an aspiring poet. Her 2013 poem ‘Chai’ was featured on Badilisha Poetry Radio, a South African based poetry radio. The poem can be heard here.
Facebook: Beaton Galafa
Beaton Galafa was born in 1990 and raised in Balaka, Malawi. He is currently a final year literature student at Chancellor College, University of Malawi, where he specialises in French literature. Beaton loves writing poems, short stories (all still unpublished), has a particular love of African literature, and runs a blog, Towards Real Emancipation From Mental Slavery, that tackles a diversity of issues.
Dave Mankhokwe Namusanya
Twitter Handle: @Mankhokwed
Facebook: Dave Namusanya
Dave Mankhokwe Namusanya writes prose and, at times, poetry. He is also an art critic. He has published his works with the local press and his first attempt at a novel, Nightmares for Dreams, got an honourable mention in the national Malawi Writers’ Union (MAWU) Peer-Gynt Novel manuscript competition in 2013. Dave currently works with one of the country’s leading newspaper publishers, Blantyre Newspapers Limited (BNL), in the Arts and Entertainment section, and his personal blog can be found here.
Facebook: Kamaliza A. Raissa
Raissa Kamariza was born in 1993 in Kigali, in the former district of Nyarugenge. Eight months later, the Genocide against the Tutsi started and left her fatherless. Her mother and two siblings survived with her. Raissa took a keen interest in science at school, taking Maths, Biology and Chemistry A Levels. In September 2012 she started college at UR-Huye Campus, is studying Applied Statistics, and will graduate in 2016.
Paula Akugizibwe was born in Nigeria, grew up in Southern Africa and is currently based in Kigali. Her writing has been published in ZAM Magazine, Mail & Guardian and ThisIsAfrica. She is also a contributing editor of the Chimurenga Chronic. Her background is in pharmacy and epidemiology, and by day she conducts research on tuberculosis.
Barbara Wanjala is a writer from Nairobi, Kenya. She has been published by Kwani? and is currently working on a collection of stories based on her extensive travels throughout Eastern Africa.
Isaac Otidi Amuke
Facebook: Isaac Otidi Amuke
Isaac Otidi Amuke has a BA from the University of Nairobi, where he majored in Literature. He writes creative non-fiction for Kwani? and was a 2013 recipient of the Jean—Jacques Rousseau Fellowship from the Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart, Germany. He has been working on a two part memoir on student activism and life as an urban refugee and hopes to trim the thousands of words he has written into a working draft. He listens to a lot of Hip Hop and rhumba, and considers himself politically committed, whatever that means.
Facebook: Ogutu Muraya
Ogutu Muraya is a writer, theatre-maker and storyteller, recently accepted into the Amsterdam School of Arts, DasArts Master of Theatre program. He is the Creative Director of The Theatre Company of Kenya and works in Editorial at Kwani Trust. Ogutu has been published in Kwani? & Chimurenga Chronic. His performance works have featured in several theatres and festivals in Kenya, and internationally: Amsterdam, La Mama (NYC), The Hay Festival (UK), HIFA (Harare), NuVo Arts Festival (Kampala), and Spoken Wor:l:ds Festival (Berlin). In 2012 Ogutu translated Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor into Kiswahili. The adaptation premiered at Globe to Globe Festival (London) and later toured India & East Africa.