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Mentors

Rachel Zadok

Rachel Zadok was raised in Johannesburg and has a National Diploma in Fine Arts. In 2001, she escaped a career in advertising to become a writer, which she describes as being a little like running away to join the circus without the safety net. In 2005, she was a runner-up in the Richard & Judy How to Get Published Competition and her first novel, Gem Squash Tokoloshe, was published by Pan Macmillan later that year. Gem Squash Tokoloshe went on to be shortlisted for The Whitbread First Novel Award and The John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, and longlisted for the IMPAC award. In 2011, she launched Short Story Day South, the southern-African precursor to Short Story Day Africa. Her second novel, Sister-Sister (Kwela Books) was published in April 2013. Rachel’s writing has appeared in the Observer, the Jewish Chronicle, the Independent and, the 2012 Caine Prize Anthology. She lives in Cape Town with her husband and daughter, and occasionally blogs. Rachel facilitated the Cape Town Writivism workshop.


Ukamaka Olisakwe

Ukamaka is an amazingly talented Nigerian born short-story writer and author. Her debut novel Eyes of a Goddess was released in 2012 by Piraeus Books, LLC. Ukamaka’s short stories have also been published in various literary sites, such as Sentinel Nigeria, Saraba Magazine and Short Story Day Africa. She runs a weekly column at the Nigerian Telegraph and is the founder of Isele, a spoken word competition for Nigerian poets. Ukamaka co-facilitated the Abuja Writivism workshop.


Okwiri Oduor

Okwiri Oduor is a writer from Nairobi, Kenya. Her novella, The Dream Chasers was highly commended in the Commonwealth Book Prize, 2012. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in AMKA and Femrite anthologies, The New Inquiry, Kwani?, Saraba Magazine, and Africa Writing Online. In August 2013, she directed the inaugural Writivism Literary Festival in Kampala, Uganda. Her story My Father’s Head emerged first place in the 2013 Short Story Day Africa Feast, Famine and Potluck story contest. She is a 2014 MacDowell Colony fellow.


Monica Cheru

Monica Cheru-Mpambawashe started out her work life as a secondary school teacher of English and Portuguese then drifted into insurance before finding her niche as a writer. She is an assistant editor at The Herald, a daily newspaper where she runs the lifestyle desk where she has introduced a literary corner to encourage teens and tweens to write creatively. She is also media analyst and media relations consultant. She wrote a play -God’s House which was performed as part of the Amakhosi Summer Season in Bulawayo Zimbabwe in 2010. Then she published a collection of short stories titled Chivi Sunsets about supernatural incidents in 2011. Her second collection of short stories called The Happy Clapper is due to be launched in January 2014. She is currently working on the biography of Zimbabwe’s first black supermodel who went on the build a business empire and mentor thousands of young women into entrepreneurs as well as co-writing a documentary work on the land reform in Zimbabwe and a translation of Ignatius Mabasa’s Imbwa Yemunhu (Dog!I from Shona to English. She is married with three children and resides in Harare. Monica co-facilitated the Harare Writivism workshop. 


Lauri Kubuitsile

Lauri Kubuitsile is a full time writer from Botswana. She has many published books in Southern Africa and two published overseas, as well as many published short stories. She has twice won the Golden Baobab Prize for children’s literature, was shortlisted for the Caine Prize in 2011, and her book Signed, Hopelessly in Love was shortlisted for the Sanlam Prize and MER Prize, and was chosen by South African’s O Magazine as one of the 40 best books in 2011. Her latest books are Signed, The Secret Keeper, a sequel to Signed, Hopelessly in Love (Diamond, November 2013) and the soon to come out adult detective novel, The Vanishings (Black Crake Books, Jan 2014). Find some of her books here. More on her blog


Yewande Omotoso

Yewande Omotoso,born in Barbados, grew up in Nigeria and currently lives in Johannesburg. Yewande, a trained architect, completed a masters in creative writing at the University of Cape Town. Her debut novel ‘Bomboy’, published in 2011 by Modjaji Books, was shortlisted for the 2012 Sunday Times Literary Awards and the MNet Film Award, it won the South African Literary Award First Time Author Prize. Other works include ‘Heroes’ with online crime fiction magazine ‘Noir Nation’ and ‘Two Old People’ in the anthology ‘Speaking for the Generation: Contemporary Stories from Africa’. Yewande’s poetry is published in the Baobab Literary Journal. ‘The Rain’ was shortlisted for the 2012 Sol Plaatjie European Union Poetry Awards. She was a 2013 Norman Mailer Fellow and selected as one of Mail and Guardian’s 200 Young South Africans. Find her book here


Dilman Dila

Dilman Dila is a Ugandan writer and film maker. In 2013, he was shortlisted for the prestigious Commonwealth Short Story Prize and long listed for the Short Story Day Africa prize. He was nominated for the 2008 Million Writers Awards for his short story, Homecoming. He first appeared in print in The Sunday Vision in 2001. His works have since featured in several literary magazines and anthologies. His most recent works is the novelette,The Terminal Move, and the romance novella, Cranes Crest at Sunset, which are available on Amazon. His films include the masterpiece, What Happened in Room 13 (2007), and the narrative feature, The Felistas Fable(2013). More of his life and works is available at his website


Gothataone Moeng

Gothataone Moeng is a freelance journalist, aspiring filmmaker, and writer based in Gaborone, Botswana. She won the 2009 Bessie Head Literary Prize. In June, 2011, her story, “Singing in the Rain”, was featured in the Stories on Stages series of Northern California. Her short story Singing in the Rain won second prize at the inaugural British Council/Alexander McCall Smith short story writing competition in 2006. she has published many short stories in various journals and anthologies and has been a Writer in Residence at FEMRITE. 


Dr. Sylva Nze Ifedigbo

Sylva was born in November 1984 in Abuja Nigeria. He works in Corporate Communication in a Start up Telecom firm in Lagos and does some writing and journalism. He hails from Agulu in Anambra state and contributes to many publications including Daily Times online newspaper of Nigeria where he keeps a weekly column. His books Whispering Aloud and The Funeral Did Not End are published by Spectrum Books Ltd (2007) and DADA Books (2012) respectively. Read more about Sylva at his website. 


Dami Ajayi

Dami Ajayi, born in 1986, is a medical doctor, poet, short-story writer, occasional essayist, former blogger and book reviewer. His works have appeared in several journals in America, Canada, Cameroun, Europe and, of course, his home country, Nigeria. His debut collection of poems was recently shortlisted for the prestigious Melita Hume Poetry Prize. His recently published poetry pamphlet ‘Daybreak and other Poems’ has been praised by reviewers. He lives in Ilesha, Ife and Ibafo. He is working on a novella and a collection of short stories. He blogs at www.mrajayi.wordpress.com


Samuel Kolawole

Samuel Kolawole has contributed short fiction to various journals and anthologies. His work has been published in Jungle Jim, “Behind the shadows” and ISFN anthology among others. He also contributes regularly to South Africa based efrika journal and his writing has appeared in The Guardian UK and Departures Magazine.  His story collection ‘ the book of M” was published in 2011 to critical acclaim.  He runs Writers’ Studio, Nigeria’s flagship creative writing school. Samuel lives in Ibadan, Nigeria where he has recently completed work on his first novel. 


Michael Onsando

Michael Onsando is a reader who writes based in Nairobi Kenya.  He is one of the founders of online journal Brainstorm and has been published in several publications including The New Inquiry, The East African and Ratio Magazine. His first chapbook of poetry “Something Quite Unlike Myself” is expected in early 2014. His runs a personal blog at michael.co.ke. 


Julius C. Sseremba

Julius C. Sseremba is the Author of By the African Fire, a collection of short stories sold world wide. He is currently a documentation specialist offering writing consultancy solutions to an assorted list of clientele. He also offers inception to execution auto-biography publishing services through his company Deft Publishing Limited. His main interests are prose and poetry. He lives and works in Kampala. 


Sumayya Lee

Sumayya Lee was born and raised in Durban, South Africa where she has worked as an Islamic Studies teacher, Montessori directress and taught English as a Foreign Language. Her debut, The Story of Maha (Kwela, 2007) was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Book – Africa and longlisted for the Sunday Times Fiction Award.  Her second novel, Maha, Ever After was published by Kwela in 2009.  She now lives, writes and counts the sunny days in London with her husband, two children and their cat. Sumayya loves reading and eating (preferably on a Durban beach) and hates injustice, Islamophobia, misogyny and February in England. 


Tendai Mawanaka

Tendai was born in the remote eastern highlands district of Nyanga, Zimbabwe, in Mapfurira village, grew up there and did his primary, secondary, and high school in that area. His first book to be published, VOICES FROM EXILE, a collection of poetry on Zimbabwe’s political situation and exile in South Africa was published by Lapwing publications, Northern Ireland in 2010. KEYS IN THE RIVER: Notes from a Modern Chimurenga, a novel of interlinked stories that deals with life in modern day Zimbabwe’s soul was published by Savant books and publications, USA 2012. A book of creative non-fiction pieces, ZIMBABWE: THE BLAME GAME, was published by Langaa RPCIG( Cameroon 2013), a poetry collection entitled PLAYING TO LOVE’S GALLERY will be published by DIP PRESS(USA, 2014), a novel entitled, A DARK ENERGY will be published by Aignos publishing company(USA, 2014). He was attended The Caine African writing workshop, 2012. Published over 250 pieces of short stories, essays, memoirs, poems and photographic/visual art in over 150 magazines, journals, and anthologies in over 20 countries. 


Timothy Kiprop Kimutai

Kimutai is 28 years old, and was the second runner’s up for the Kwani? Manuscript Project and his book The Water Spirits will be published in April. He has participated in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Farafina Workshop in Lagos, as well as a Granta-sponsored workshop in Nairobi facilitated by Ella Allfrey and two young British authors, Nadifa Mohamed and Adam Foulds. He is currently editing an anthology of short stories themed around insanity which will be published online in January 2014. 


Barbara Mhangami-Ruwende

Barbara was born and raised in Zimbabwe. She left home at the age of eighteen and worked in Germany before embarking on her undergraduate studies at the University of Glasgow, Scotland. Barbara moved to the United States in 1997, where she resides with her husband and 4 daughters. She is passionate about raising her daughters, reading good literature, writing and running marathons. 


Julianne Okot Bitek

Juliane Okot Bitek is a PhD student at University of British Columbia. She holds a Master’s Degree in English and a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Art (Creative Writing).  Her doctoral research focuses on post-conflict narratives of formerly abducted women in northern Uganda.  Juliane is an essayist and poet whose work has been anthologized and published widely in literary magazines, on-line and in print.  She recently completed a book, Stories from the Dry Season, which she co-authored with Grace Acan, a women’s advocate in northern Uganda.  Juliane has been an invited poet at the International Poetry Festivals of Medellin, Colombia (2008) and Granada, Nicaragua (2009).  She continues to write and speak about issues of home, homeland and diaspora. 


Richard Ali

Richard Ali, a lawyer, was born in Kano, Nigeria and grew up in the resort town of Jos. Author of the warmly received 2012 novel, City of Memories, Richard is also Editor-in-Chief of the Sentinel Nigeria Magazine and was a runner-up at the 2008 John la Rose Short Story Competition. In March 2008, he was selected amongst 50 other emerging Nigerian writers to participate in the British Council’s Radiophonics Workshop. He joined the Sentinel Literary Movement of Nigeria in 2011 and has undertaken the editing of its quarterly Sentinel Nigeria Magazine [www.sentinelnigeria.org] since then. He is also on the Board of the pan-African Transcultural Academy. Richard completed a 6-week Residency at the Ebedi Writers Residency Program in 2012, attended the Chimamanda Adichie-led Farafina Workshop in 2012 and was a Guest at the 2013 Ake Book and Arts Festival, Abeokuta. He also was a participant in the GRANTA-British Council New Writing workshop held in Nairobi in 2013. He lives in Abuja where he practices law and runs Parrésia Publishers Ltd where he serves as Chief Operating Officer. 


Clifton Gachagua

Clifton Gachagua is a poet, writer and screenwriter. He is the first winner of the Sillerman Prize for African Poetry 2013, awarded by the African Poetry Book Fund. His poetry book, Madman at Kilifi, is published by the University of Nebraska Press. His novel was longlisted for the Kwani? Manuscript Project. His works have been published in major literary forums including Storymoja; Kwani? 06; Saraba; AfroSF.