We recently began to ask ourselves questions about what it means that our prizes are only open to writers living on the continent. Our argument has always been that we do not have enough opportunities for writers on the continent. And it is true. But what does this mean for our definition of ourselves as pan African? What does it mean that we accept stories of white South Africans because they live on the continent and not those of our kindred who live outside? Panashe Chigumadzi has detailed this in a beautiful long sermon, “Why I’m no longer talking to Nigerians about race”, on Africa is a country. Reading it felt reminiscent of a believer who goes to church with something weighing heavy on them. The pastor names exactly how the weight has been bearing upon you, and everything you need to hear. If you are overzealous, you lift the chair you are seated on and shout “Amen!”.
And so, UnBreakable Bonds is our altar call.
The theme for this year’s Writivism activities is “UnBreakable Bonds”. We hope that we are not only defining the unbreakable bonds of our shared and varied Blacknesses across continents but also, the unbreakable bonds between fiction and nonfiction; the unbreakable bonds across generations of African thinkers; the unbreakable bonds between art forms: literature, photography; the unbreakable bonds between the rural and the urban, the unbreakable bonds in the presentation of art: books, exhibitions, podcasts; and what holds it all together: the will, the urge, the yearning to create and imagine worlds, possibilities or really to present it as it is. All of this is captured so tightly and perfectly in Solange’s “Can I Hold the Mic” interlude on When I Get Home.