- Zakes Mda
is a prolific South African playwright, poet, painter, composer, novelist and filmmaker. He commutes between the USA, where he is a Professor of Creative Writing and Literary Theory at Ohio University, and South Africa, where he runs a beekeeping project in the Eastern Cape, and a dramaturge at the Market Theatre, Johannesburg. He is Founder and Trustee of the Southern African Multimedia AIDS Trust in Sophiatown, Johannesburg, where he trains HIV positive people to write. Mda’s novels, The Heart of Redness, won the 2001 Commonwealth Writers Prize, Africa Region, and the Sunday Times Fiction Prize. She Plays with the Darkness won the Sanlam Literary Award 1995. Ways of Dying won the Olive Schreiner and M-Net Book Prizes, 1997, and has since been adapted into a play, a jazz opera and a Broadway production. His other novels include Black Diamond, 2009, Cion 2007, The Whale Caller, 2005, and The Madonna of Excelsior, 2002.
- Aminatta Forna
was born in Glasgow and raised in Sierra Leone and the United Kingdom. She divides her time between London and Sierra Leone. Formerly an award winning journalist for BBC Television (1989-99), she is now a full-time writer. Her recent published works are Ancestor Stones, (2006) a novel set in West Africa, and The Devil that Danced on the Water, (2002) a memoir of her father and her country. Her new novel, The Memory of Love, a story about friendship, war and obsessive love was published in April 2010. Aminatta has also published essays and articles, and written for television and radio. In 2003 The Devil that Danced on the Water was runner up for Britain’s most prestigious non-fiction award, the Samuel Johnson Prize. The book was serialised on BBC Radio, in The Sunday Times newspaper, and also selected for the Barnes & Noble Discover New Writers series. The Devil that Danced on the Water became a Times newspaper Book Club book, while Ancestor Stones was a New York Times Editor’s Choice book, selected by the Washington Post as one of the Best Novels of 2006 and one of The Listener Magazine’s Best 10 Books of 2006. In 2007, Aminatta was named by Vanity Fair as one of Africa’s most promising new writers and her work has been translated into nine languages.
- Leila Aboulela
was born to an Egyptian mother and Sudanese father in 1964 in Cairo, and grew up in Khartoum. She graduated from Khartoum University in 1985, with a degree in Economics. Later, she was awarded an MSc and MPhil in Statistics from the London School of Economics. She started writing when she lived in Aberdeen, and won the first Caine Prize for African Writing in 2000, for her story, The Museum, which is published in her short story collection, Coloured Lights. Her debut novel, The Translator (1999), was nominated for the Orange Prize, and chosen as a Notable Book of the Year by the New York Times in 2006. Her second novel, Minaret (2005), was also nominated for the Orange Prize, and the IMPAC Dublin Award. Her latest novel, Lyrics Alley, is set in the Sudan of the 1950s, and was the Fiction Winner of the Scottish Book Awards, and shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize -Europe and S.E Asia. Her works have been translated into twelve languages, and have appeared in publications such as Granta, The Washington Post, and Virginia Quarterly Review. BBC Radio has adapted some of her works, also broadcasts her plays, including The Mystic Life, and the historical drama, The Lion of Chechnya. Leila Aboulela now lives in Doha, Qatar.
- Mildred Kiconco Barya
is a writer and poet from Uganda. She has worked in the book industry, broadcasting, and human resources consulting. Her first collection of poetry, Men Love Chocolates But They Don’t Say, won the Uganda National Award for Poetry, 2002. The Price of Memory After the Tsunami is her second poetry collection, published by Mallory International, UK, 2006. Give Me Room to Move My Feet, her third poetry book, was published in 2009 by Amalion, Senegal. Barya has an MFA in Fiction from Syracuse University, New York, and teaches creative writing at Alabama School of Fine Arts in Birmingham. Previously, she was a Writer-in-Residence at TrustAfrica in Dakar, Senegal. In 2007, Barya was a fellow on the Per Sesh Writing Program in Popenguine, Senegal, a nine-month residential writing workshop for young writers under the tutorship of Africa’s legendary novelist, Ayi Kwei Armah. Barya studied at Makerere University, (BA Literature and MA Organizational Psychology), Moi University (Editorial studies and publishing management) and The International Women’s University, Hamburg, (Information communication and globalization).
- Goretti Kyomuhendo, Founder and Director
was born in 1965 and grew up in Hoima, western Uganda. She currently lives in London. She holds an MA in creative writing from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa. Her first novel, The First Daughter, was published in Uganda in 1996, followed by Secrets no More, in 1999, which won the Uganda National Literary Award for Best Novel of the Year in the same year. She has also published a number of children’s books and short stories. Her third novel, Waiting, was published by The Feminist Press in New York in 2007. Goretti is a founding member of FEMRITE –Uganda Women Writers’ Association and Publishing House, and worked as its first Programmes Coordinator for ten years (1997-2007), designing and implementing writing projects. In 2004, Goretti was a tutor in the department of English at the University of Kwazulu-Natal, teaching and assessing creative writing second-year students. She has undertaken several writing consultancies including commission by UNICEF to develop a script for a multi-media package based on children in conflict situations, which was later published as an illustrated comic book entitled Sara and the Boy Soldier, in 2000. In 1997, Goretti was the first Ugandan woman to receive an International Writing Program fellowship at the University of Iowa. She has since been invited to participate in various international readings, literary and academic conferences in France, Germany, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Brazil, Malaysia, Thailand, United States and others.
- Helon Habila
was born in Nigeria, and worked in Lagos as a journalist before moving to England in 2002 for a writing fellowship at the University of East Anglia. In 2001 his short story, “Love Poems” won the Caine Prize, and his first novel, Waiting for an Angel (2002) won the Commonwealth Prize for Best First Novel, Africa Region, in 2003. In 2006, he co-edited the British Council’s anthology, New Writing 14. In 2005-2006 Habila was the first Chinua Achebe Fellow at Bard College, NY. His second novel, Measuring Time (2007), won the Virginia Library Foundation’s fiction award in 2008, and his short story, “The Hotel Malogo” won the Emily Balch Prize. The short story was also selected by the Best American Non-Required Reading anthology, edited by Dave Eggers. Habila’s third novel, Oil on Water, was published in 2010 and shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize (2011) and the Orion Book Award (2012). It was also a runner up for the PEN/Open Book Award (2012). In 2011 Habila edited The Granta Book of the African Short Story. Habila is a professor of Creative Writing at George Mason University in Virginia, and a contributing editor for the Virginia Quarterly Review since 2004. He also teaches summer writing workshops with the Fidelity Bank in Nigeria. He lives in Virginia with his wife and three children.
- Ayeta Anne Wangusa
is a Ugandan writer and journalist. She graduated from Makerere University with a BA in Literature and Sociology, and MA in Literature. Her first novel, Memoirs of a Mother, was published in Uganda in 1998. She has also published short stories and children’s books, and in 2002, she co-edited Tears of Hope, an anthology of stories published by FEMRITE, Uganda. She also worked as Book Editor with Fountain Publishers in Uganda. From 1996-2003, Ayeta was Features Editor with New Vision Newspaper, Uganda’s leading daily. She currently works in Tanzania with SNV- The Netherlands Development Organisation as a Governance Advisor Civil Society Strengthening – Media. In 2009, she was appointed East Africa Representative on the Commonwealth Foundation’s Civil Society Advisory Committee, and is a member of the Commonwealth Group on Culture and Development. In 2003, Ayeta was selected to participate in the Cheltenham Literature Festival in the UK as part of the Across Continents Project. She was also judge of the 2003 Commonwealth Writers Prize, Africa Region, and was a participant in the prestigious International Writers Program, University of Iowa, in 1998.
- Susan Nalugwa Kiguli
is a Ugandan poet and academic. She holds a PhD in English from The University of Leeds. She studied at Makerere University, where she obtained a BA in Education and MA in Literature. She later joined the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland, and graduated with a Masters of Letters in Literary Linguistics. Her research interests fall mainly in the area of Oral Poetry, Popular Song and Performance Theory. She is currently a senior lecturer in the Department of Literature, Makerere University, Uganda. Kiguli writes in English and Luganda, and has published widely in national and international anthologies and journals. The publication of her first volume of poetry, The African Saga, (1998) situated her among the most exciting young poets from Africa, and the volume won the National Book Trust of Uganda Poetry Award 1999. She was also a special participant in the Northern England Professional Development for Writers of African and Asian Descent (2005-2006) Project, and a poet in Residence at the Siftung Kunst: Raum Sylt Quell, Germany in 2008. Kiguli has also served on the panel of judges for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize (Africa Region, 1999) and is a Postdoctoral Fellow African Humanities Program 2010.