2015 updates, BNPA call for poetry

There have been many changes since our last post, and a few updates are in order.


First off, apologies to those who submitted to the novel writing contest: a series of events led first to post-ponement, and finally cancellation of the project. You will have been notified privately, but this is the public acknowledgement phase. We deeply regret the necessity of cancellation, and wish you all well in your ongoing writing careers.

Further changes, at the board level: Michael Onsando has stepped off of the board, blog, and conversation group, as did Beverley Nambozo. I (Joanne) have stepped off board and conversation group, but remain in place as co-editor of the blog. The opportunity to continue to support the projects of TA partner groups, as well as participating writers, is one that i hold dear. The frequency of updates is likely to continue to be sporadic, rather than monthly, for the time being.

Babishai Niwe Poetry Foundation: call for poetry

bnpa Flyer 2015

Deyu African/interview:

Sophie Alal : Reclaiming our African narrative.




Sophie and Michael

Michael & Sophie (Kampala visit 2014)


A visit to the board page will reveal the recent changes on TA board, with two people stepping down/on hiatus, while two new author-activists join the board.

RR, Julie & Jo

Richard, Juliane & Joanne (Vancouver visit 2014)


Thanks to all who submitted to the e-course for novel writing.


Writing is our passion! REVISED call for online novel writing project

TsitsiBeatrice LamwakaImaliTA logo small

Writing is our passion!
Announcing an online course in support of aspiring novelists. Bring your novel-in-progress to TA online for assessment, support, feedback and guidance. Enjoy an intensive mentoring relationship with experienced authors, Tsitsi Dangaremba (Nervous Conditions), Beatrice Lamwaka (Anena’s Victory), and Imali Abala (Drum Bits of Terror). REVISED details:

Call for submissions: Guidelines
1. Interested writers must be African, living either on or off the continent. This course requires internet access, and will be conducted online.

2. Successful participants will be paired with acclaimed writers, who will assist them in developing their manuscripts into published works: assess strengths and weaknesses of manuscript-in-progress, answer questions, offer guidance, assign and respond to revisions, and advise on steps in seeking publication of works. Transcultural Academy will also offer advice on literary agencies and recommend works to publishers.

3. Please submit an excerpt of your novel (up to 1,000 words), a brief plot summary, a short biographical sketch, and a list of previous publications (if any) as a Word attachment to Transculturalacademy(at)gmail.com. Please include NOVEL SUBMISSION in the title of your email.

4. The revised fee for the entire course is Five Hundred US Dollars (500 USD).

5. The deadline for submissions is September 30th 2014. Submissions will be accepted from August 1st to September 30th 2014. Selection of successful participants will be announced on October 15.


TSITSI DANGAREMBGA is a Zimbabwean novelist, playwright and filmmaker. Born in Bulawayo, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), she studied in England, Zimbabwe, and Berlin. Her first novel, Nervous Conditions, won the African section of the Commonwealth Writers Prize in 1989. Nervous Conditions has been translated into several languages, and has never been out of print, called ‘one of the twelve best African novels ever written.’

An acclaimed filmmaker (Neria, Everyone’s Child), Tsitsi founded the International Images Film Festival for Women (2002). Tsitsi is an international favourite as a knowledgeable speaker, practitioner, and organizer on behalf of literature and the arts of Africa.
Books: She No Longer Weeps, 1987.
Nervous Conditions, 1988; Ayebia Clarke, 2004.
The Book of Not: A Sequel to Nervous Conditions, Ayebia Clarke, 2006.

BEATRICE LAMWAKA is a short story specialist, author of a text book used in Uganda’s schools. Born and raised in Alokolum, Gulu, Uganda, Beatrice is General Secretary of PEN Uganda, executive member of Uganda Reproduction Rights Organisation (URRO), and member/past executive of Uganda Women Writers Association (FEMRITE). Founder/director of Arts Therapy Foundation, providing healing support through creative arts.

Much-anthologized, journalist as well as author, Beatrice was novelist/writer-in-residence at Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center (2013). In 2011 she received Young Achievers Award (Art, Culture and Fashion), the same year she was shortlisted for the Caine Prize for African Writing for her story “Butterfly Dreams.”
Books: Anena’s Victory, 2003.

IMALI ABALA Dr. Imali J. Abala is a poet, novelist, and professor (composition, literature). Born in Kerongo Village, Vihiga, Kenya, Imali studied at Ohio State University USA. In A Talk about talk: conversational approaches to oral narrative (1992), Imali explored traditional folklore alongside contemporary diasporic narrative. Professor of English at Ohio Dominican University, Columbus, she teaches Freshman Writing, World Literature, African Literature, Literature of American Diversity, and Nineteenth-Century American Literature.

Beyond her books, Imali’s writings appear in African Women in Motion: Gender and the New African Diaspora in the United States and Reflections: An Anthology of New Work by African Women Poets.
Books: Move on, Trufosa, 2006.
The Disinherited, 2007.
The Dilemma of Jahenda the Teenage Mother, 2010.
A Fallen Citadel and Other Poems, 2012.

Transcultural Academy Online Novel Writing Workshop ~ call

TA logo small


At the Transcultural Academy, we believe that ‘A Nation without books is like a clinic
without medicine’ (Tsitsi Dangarembga 2013). The Academy is premised on ideas to
support Transcultural Literature. The Academy will form the main foci and carry on
activities based on Transculturalism. It is about re-inventing of common culture, based
on the meeting and intermingling of different peoples and cultures. Transculturalism
is also based on the breaking down of barriers and rooted in the pursuit of defined
shared interests. The Academy is running an online course for committed African
novel writers who desire to transform their manuscripts into publishable works.

Call for submissions:

1. Interested writers must be African, living either on or off the continent.
2. Submit a 1,000 word maximum of the novel and a plot summary, including
their bios and any publications as a Word attachment to Transculturalacademy(at)gmail.com
3. The deadline for submissions is September 30th 2014.
4. Selection of successful participants will be announced on October 15.
5. Successful participants will be paired with acclaimed writers, who will develop
their manuscripts into publishable works.
6. Transcultural Academy will also offer advice on literary agencies and
recommend works to publishers.
7. The fee for the entire course is One Thousand Five Hundred US Dollars.
(1,500 USD).
8. Submissions will be accepted from August 1st to September 30th 2014.

Tsitsi Dangarembga is a Zimbabwean author and filmmaker.

Dangarembga was born in Bulawayo, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), and spent part of
her childhood in England. She took up psychology at the University of
Zimbabwe while holding down a two-year job as a copywriter at a marketing agency.
This early writing experience gave her an avenue for expression: she wrote numerous
plays, including The Lost of the Soil, and then joined the theatre group
Zambuko. She participated in the production of two plays, Katshaa and Mavambo.

In 1985, Dangarembga published a short story in Sweden called “The Letter”. In
1987, she published the play She Does Not Weep in Harare. At the age of
twenty-five, she had her first taste of success with her novel Nervous Conditions,
which won the African section of the Commonwealth Writers Prize in 1989 and is considered
one of the twelve best African novels ever written.

Dangarembga continued her education later in Berlin at the Deutsche Film und Fernseh Akademie,
where she studied film direction and produced several film productions, including a documentary
for German television. She also made the film, Everyone’s Child, shown worldwide including
at the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival.

Dangarembga wrote the story for the film Neria (1993), which became the highest-grossing
film in Zimbabwean history. The protagonist is a widowed woman, whose brother-in-law
abuses traditional customs to control her assets for his own benefit. Neria loses her
material possessions and her child, but gets then help from her female friend (played
by Kubi Indi) against her late husband’s family. The title song is by Oliver Mtukudzi,
who also appears in the film.

In 1996, she directed the film Everyone’s Child. It was the first feature film directed
by a black Zimbabwean woman. The story followed the tragic fates of four siblings,
after their parents die of AIDS. The soundtrack featured songs by Zimbabwe’s most
popular musicians, including Thomas Mapfumo, Leonard Zhakata and Andy Brown.

In 2011, she orated a TEDX talk at Harare called “the question posed by my cat.”
She founded the International Images Film Festival in 2002 in response to the
proliferation of beauty contests at that time, in order to provide diverse
narratives by and about women.

She No Longer Weeps, 1987.
Nervous Conditions, 1988; Ayebia Clarke, 2004.
The Book of Not: A Sequel to Nervous Conditions, Ayebia Clarke, 2006.

BEATRICE LAMWAKA (born and raised in Alokolum, Gulu) is a Ugandan writer. She was
shortlisted for the 2011 Caine Prize for her story “Butterfly Dreams.” She is the
founder and director of Arts Therapy Foundation, a non-profit organisation that
provides psychological and emotional support through creative arts therapies. She is
the General Secretary of PEN Uganda Chapter and Executive member of Uganda
Reproduction Rights Organisation (URRO). She has served on the Executive Board of
Uganda Women Writers Association (FEMRITE), where she has been a member
since 1998.

She used to write for Global Press Institute articles issues that affect women example:
HIV/AIDS, impact of war on women,social justice, among others. Her creative
writing (short stories and her novel) also focus on these issues. In 2009, she was a
writer in residence at Château de Lavingny, Switzerland. In November 2013, She was
a resident working on her novel, Sunflowers, at Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio
Center. She is a recipient of 2011 Young Achievers Award in the category of Art,
Culture and Fashion. She received a grant from HF Guggenheim to research on land
disputes in post conflict northern Uganda. She was shortlisted for the 2011 Caine
Prize for African Writing and finalist for the PEN/Studzinski Literary Award 2009.

IMALI ABALA was born in 1962 in Kerongo Village, Vihiga, Kenya. She studied at
The Ohio State University and is currently a Professor in the Department of English at
Ohio Dominican University. She is the author of Drum Bits of Terror (2014), A
Fallen Citadel
, a collection of poetry (2012), The Dilemma of Jahenda, the Teenage
(2010), The Disinherited (2007) and Move on, Trufosa (2006).
Some of her other works have appeared in An Anthology of Contemporary Short Stories
and Poems from East Africa
(2014), A Thousand Voices Rising (2014),
Out of the Depths (2014) and Reflections: An Anthology by African Women Poets
(2013), a one-of-akind collection of poetry by contemporary African women poets.

Richard Rathwell: The Moon… & Transculture

Transcultural Mooning …( Joke)

But these [moon stories] are really lovely and evocative. Make me feel connected.

Mine is over Blackheath. There are pine trees filled with the midnight chatter of manic escaped budgies from Central London, the flat frosted ground ( where poor Richard decided not to kill the King in the peasants’ rebellion) has shadowed scampering urban foxes engaged in bad tempered mutually assertive chases with cats. None of the birds which rest there on their way from Russia through Egypt to Uganda ( along the Nile) are left. The moon is orange, streaked with plane traces.

(It used to be the illumination for spears and needles of driven snow flying over the frozen drifts of bottomless lake directly into my slitted eyes as I tended the sugar bush. It used to be dropping into the ground between jinns of swirling sand, wobbling in blinking sweated eyes as I walked to school to teach the night class.)

Rave 3 ( Why not)

Transcultural writing confronts cultural problematics, that is, the dissonances culture creates such as racism, sexism and class oppression. It develops narratives that play against ingrained associations as stereotypes and group myth. It projects images which challenge moral strictures. It is particularly concerned with exploring new ways of relating. It reacts against acculturated memory and social identity.

It is not a politics such as ‘multi-culturalism’ which proposes rules of interrelationship and reconciliation between people grouped culturally and based on adapting cultures to a common law. Nor is it the politics of ‘interculturalism’ which proposes exchanges of cultural enterprises towards a common market. The latter is characterised by the critical filtering of culturally acceptable objects and activities to a mainstream and dominant culture.

Where an ‘orientalist’ culture may be slightly superior to a genocidal one, whereas ‘post-colonialism’ may make more sense than ‘colonialism’ they are still not mindsets that connect humanely and with empathy. They still do not empower the imagination. Whereas the ‘International’ writer, the ‘exile writer’, or similar, who has written a ‘world literature’ book does gain access to an imperial mainstream and whereas the ‘commonwealth novelist of the year’ has been granted market access, these have nothing essentially to do with transcultural purpose or with transcultural competence .

There is nothing wrong with competence in adapting to the prevailing and dominant cultural institutions and market. Memoirs do it, genre fiction does it but they usually do it with a non-literary manufacture of authenticity. Nothing wrong with that either. It is entertainment like ‘traditional’ dancing.

Transcultural writing is not entertainment as such. It is an imaginative projection with purpose seeking an imaginative reader response to a confrontation with cultural problematics. It is competent and critical about the cultures, the stereotypes, the myths. It is competent and critical about the craft, the patterns and forms. It is then take it or leave it.

Richard Ali: The Poetry of Noah’s Children

Richard Ali: Thought to try a love poem, thought to share. Still an early draft.

*The Poetry of Noah’s Children*


I know in the soft cold of this December morning
Love, how it spreads and whitens skin, making us
Beacons beaming golden light, our day at St Georges
When we were luminous for the world to see

Old blood calls to old blood in this embrace of Nuh
In the warming kiss of lips, the touching tongues of
Ham and Shem, we pageant sacred stories and our moans
Are dreams of Babel before the first flutter of Seraphim

I’ll be majnoon to your Layla in this poetry of chill
That calls to chill and the friction aflame of fate that burns
Bright against the will of angels, the will of what sunders—
A lighthouse standing in time, as an obelisk in forever.




Joanne A: …  really enjoyed this Ra, and again spent some time in research, this time to refresh memory of what the biblical refs suggest, and to re-acquaint self with the cascades of Majnoon & Layla. Checking up on Fiqranya leads to many conversations of facebook, so, a personal name, i conclude

two moments of startlement,  the idea that love “whitens” skin, and the suggestive of Ham & Shem, brothers touching tongues

poet is boss, so, if you say so!

for the rest, elegant and gentle, affirmation of sweetness of life, and the vast scale of the lands we pass our days in– yes, to the elevations of love

i do enjoy love poetry, i will read even spam that begins, “Dear Beloved,” so, i am a wide-ranging reader of the form. When a few years back i found myself producing love poetry, i found some strongly negative reactions– but in the end, it was the person who had walled away love who changed, and the poetry carried on, expressive of the one true thing, making small magics in the world


RA: Thanks a lot for the feedback, sis. Was playing around with some ideas. Permit me to share these since I’ve already inflicted the poem on you. I’m up and sleepless in Lagos, Nigeria.

Fiqranya is the female form for “lover” or “beloved” in Amharic; my girlfriend who inspired the poem is a Tigrean and speaks Amharic as a first language. Tigrean, and Amharic, like Arabic and Hebrew are all Semitic languages, hence she is descended from Noah’s son, Shem. (The word for love in Amharic is “fiker”, which reminds me of “flicker” and gave rise to a luminous/fire imagery. . .) I’m of course a sub-Saharan central Sudanese man from Nigeria, thus I am descended from Noah’s other son, Ham. (Digression: I speak Hausa as a first language, which, strangely, is a Chadic language from the Nilo-Saharan family tree, same as the Ethiopic languages. Languages are very funny, rascally things I tell you. )

The core of the poem is the idea of God (“the angels”, “the Seraphim”) coming down to disperse languages and men for building the tower of Babel to rival the power of heaven–all the three Semitic religions agree on this “fact” and genealogy is always sought to be tied to where one fits in the ethno-linguistic tree of Noah’s three sons. And even in modern times, Foucault, Edward Said, Chomsky and all the greats have always held the study of linguistics to be absolutely important in philosophy, how we create meaning.

The pair of lovers in the poem have found a new language, the language of love, that defies this dispersion thus joining the two families of Noah’s descendants they belong to. And when they kiss, the brothers kiss as well. Thus, a new, super-imposing meaning is discovered.

The luminous/fire imagery of the cold whitening skin which transforms into a “flame” later on and then a “lighthouse” in the last quatrain is meant to hold the poem in place.

Ah, we are lost without love! Love gives structure to the chaos of life. It’s absolutely terrible and tragic the number of cynical, bitter people out there. How do they come to be this way? *sigh* I say, smile, let go, love and even when love exacts a price, pay it, but love anyway, love nonetheless, love always.

Will take a closer look at the whole thing with a view to making it more elegant.


JA: The possibility of the brothers meeting through descendants did occur to me– also, a slip of memory of touching tongues with a sister, from long ago childhood, returned– don’t be so fusty memory says, hands on hips

Progression of the image of the Light was very clear

Later i wondered if there is a term for the cluster of characters and stories that are shared across the Abrahamic tree–

Much appreciated, your teachings on the languages and families, and the one word which would not come forth to my web requesting. I have a fondness for etymologies and roots generally, not to mention stories & poems


RA: I don’t know if there’s a term for the cluster of Noah characters and stories, something like say the way we use Anansesem for Ananse (spider-trickster folk tales) in Ghana. There probably is one even though “Noah” is such an unwieldy name, two vowels and then it ends in an /h/ which is practically a vowel too. Not even the Arab version of the name, Nuh, helps really


Richard R: I wonder as a practitioner not a critic or close reader, what you consider when thinking about the reader. Joanne has shown and you have elaborated what your projection was and what the response was from one. I liked reading the poem. I saw that it was grasping and illustrating something ‘divine’ if not magical. I got it was about language and love. It had a rhythm (not sound) which enhanced (i. e. ‘intensed’). I got some of the reference…nearly. As an obsessive practitioner I worried about line length and the use of conjunctions in respect of breath if reading it. I wondered if so much syntax was necessary.

If you were discoursing on poetry with other practitioners, what would you say about the reader?


Beverly NN: Thanks mostly for the explanation which led me to read it with more awareness of language, human movements and the beautiful Tigrean people. There are a number of similar phrases in Luganda and French too.

I believe that at times love makes us cynical. I like to look at eros (the persona and contact with Ethiopia)), agape (Noah’s God), filial (Noah’s sons) and how they blend, conflict and make us rise to the general occasion.

You bring many thoughts and cultures into your poem.




Richard Ali, a lawyer, was born in Kano, Nigeria and grew up in the resort town of Jos. He holds an LL.B from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and was called to the Nigerian Bar in 2010. Author of the warmly received 2012 novel, City of Memories, Richard is also Editor-in-Chief of the Sentinel Nigeria Magazine. Out of a desire to further add to the promising profile of African writing, he formed Nigeria’s newest publishing company, together with Mrs. Azafi Omoluabl-Ogosi in January 2012. Parrésia Publishers Ltd .He lives in Jos where he practices law and runs an IT-company together with the northern office Parrésia Publishers Ltd where he serves as Chief Operating Officer. He is unmarried and enjoys chess, reading and travelling.