Johannesburg: A pioneering initiative that will bring together the leading women writers, thinkers and cultural activists together will take place this month, 25 and 26 August 2010, as part of the Women´s Month´s activities.
These multi-tongued conversations entitled: “Women’s words: African worlds:” Renewing a dialogue between African women writers and women of African descent is hosted by the Department of Arts and Culture in association with the Windybrow Theatre (Pan-African Centre For The Arts).
Lisa Combrinck from DACS says that this think-fest is “an African indaba that will bring together women from South Africa with their sisters from the wider continent including writers from Cote d’Ivoire, Algeria, Nigeria, and the African diaspora. We hope to strengthen women’s voices through networks and also prepare for the African Decade for Women 2010-2020 as initiated by the African Union. Theatre, and poetry will also feature prominently because,” as Combrinck says, “with writing, debating and singing, in addition to our daily chores, we become fully women.”
The dialogues also plan to widen the market for African writers in South Africa, particular women writers, and hope thereby to raise awareness of the hidden treasures of both the written and spoken word of women.
The Minister of Arts and Culture Ms Lulu Xingwana will present the keynote address. Writers from different platforms, civil society and some in positions of power in government and the private sector will sit together and look critically at their craft and its impact on improving the position of women in our worlds. Women that work in the media, will be ably represented by various editors, as well as radio and television presenters and performers. Given the home ground advantage, it is obvious that the majority of women intellectuals present will be from South Africa.
The 2010 Women Month’s celebrations theme,“working together for Equal Opportunities and Progress for all Women” will be greatly advanced by the hosting of national, continental and international guests. “They will pick up the baton from some of our own national stalwarts such as the leaders of the historic march in whose memory this month is dedicated,” said Combrinck. On 9 August 1956, 20 000 South African women, black and white, led by Lillian Ngoyi, Helen Joseph, Rahima Moosa and Sophie de Bruyn demonstrated their power and solidarity against the might of Apartheid and its racist pass laws.
These gallant fighters “made herstory that directly contributed to the non’racial and non sexist South Africa we have today,“ she added. The Department of Arts and Culture over the years has remembered the stalwarts of struggle, in particular leaders such as Dulcie September, Charlotte Maxeke, Ray Alexander, Amina Cachalia, Ida Mntwana, Annie Silinga, Dora Tamana, Francis Baard and the generations who came later and who took on the apartheid regime. According to Combrinck, the Department, under the leadership of the Minister, recognises that “in this epic struggle, sisters and brothers of the African continent and the world played a seminal role.”
Thus it is fitting that some of the African writers of note that will be participating include, Miriam Tlali, Gabeba Baderoon; Arja Salafranca, Samira Negrouche (Algeria), Lola Shoneyin (Nigeria), Sheila Patel (Kenya), Veronique Tadjo (Côte d’Ivoire), Adaobi Nwaubani (Nigeria) and many others making this gathering the most powerful of African women, from all corners of the African soil and its diaspora.
Women of African descent in the conversation will be led by veteran International award-winning author of eleven books of poetry and performer of her poems with music, Jayne Cortez. She will be accompanied by various other women who, whilst African born, live and work outside Africa.
The dialogues, whilst a historic start, are not meant to be the last, and if resources are mobilised, it is likely to be continued.
The two day event takes place at the Windybrow Theatre, Joburg Cnr Nugget and Pietersen streets, No 161 Joubert Park.