…… as part of the Africa Utopia season my evening at the Southbank commenced with a brief sojourn at The Front Room (Queen Elizabeth Hall) to listen to author and Guardian columnist Gary Younge speak about President Obama and the issue of race in America, unfortunately I caught only half of his speech as I had to dash to the Level 5 Function Room (Royal Festival Hall), for the start of the African Writers’ Evening. From a scheduling perspective why have these two events clash? It might have been a good idea to have Gary Younge speak as a free event prelude to the African Writers’ Evening; I am sure those turning up for the African Writers’ Evening would have been interested in what he had to say. Sour grapes! Ah well. In its third year the African Writers’ Evening featured a reading from Dinaw Mengestu (How to read the Air), Jose Eduardo Agualusa (My Fathers Wives) and a lively discussion led by Nii Ayikwei Parkes (Tail of the Blue Bird), the aforementioned authors and recent Caine Prize winner Rotimi Babatunde (for Bombay’s Republic- click here to read the piece) on the nature of the publishing industry and the clichéd driven constraints sometimes imposed on African writers to fulfil a specific western stereotypes (poverty porn anyone?).
Jose Eduardo Agualusa – As Mulheres o Meu Pai
Dinar Mengestu – How to read the air
Nii Aikwei Parkes – Tail of the Blue Bird
Nii Ayikwei Parkes – BBC Interview