Africa Talks: Books and Tales
The final of the 2015 Africa Talks series focuses on stories, both true and invented, with Africa at their heart. Host Santilla Chingaipe and guests including Abdi Aden, Alia Gabres and Valanga Khoza discuss ways in which stories of Africa work to define our understanding of the continent and dig into ideas about how modern African stories should be told.
Many of us are familiar with the stories of bestselling South African novelists Bryce Courtenay and J. M. Coetzee, and Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart – interrogating the influence of colonialism on a traditional Nigerian community – is a modern classic.
While a new generation of contemporary African-born writers like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and NoViolet Bulawayo have found success with keenly-observed and exciting books, do stories from the continent and diaspora remain on the periphery of the Australian readership? What are some of the key themes and issues in writing, publishing – and sharing – African writing in Australia.
‘Celebrities and corporations spew forth “smash the patriarchy” and benefit financially from that. You want to talk about boards? I want to talk about how some women can’t get a job.’
Santilla Chingaipe is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. Chingaipe created and hosted the Africa Talks series in partnership with the Wheeler Centre, which explored perceptions about African-Australian identity, representation and politics. She also curated Australia’s first all-day, anti-racism festival, Not Racist, But.... Her work explores contemporary migration, cultural identities and politics. She reports regularly for the Saturday Paper and is a member of the federal government’s advisory group on Australia-Africa relations.
Valanga Khoza left South Africa in 1976, exiled along with many other young people because of their struggle against apartheid or racism. The music and stories he has since created reflects the places he has been and the people he has touched throughout his journey across the world as a refugee, finally settling in Australia.
Valanga has performed and warmed audiences of adults and children at selected world music events and in many schools across Australia and the Pacific. As well as recording six albums of original music, he is also the author of well known Gezani and the Tricky Baboon republished by Ford Street Publishing in 2014.
Abdi Adenwas a teenager when he arrived in Melbourne as a refugee to begin a new life. Until recently, he was a Youth Worker for Hume City Council in Melbourne, completing postgraduate studies in adolescent mental health. He is married to the daughter of British immigrants and has three young sons. His biography, Shining: The story of a lucky man, written with Robert Hillman, was released in June 2015.
Alia Gabres is a Melbourne based creative producer, cultural broker and storyteller.
She has worked with diverse and creative communities in Melbourne in various roles such as Lead Creative Producer for Industry and Creative Initiatives at the Footscray Community Arts Centre, and Lead Youth Arts and Events Producer for the City of Brimbank.
She has recently completed a residency at the New Jersey Performing Arts Centre in the USA, exploring new frameworks for broader and more diverse engagement in the arts.
She has designed and delivered innovative programming such as the ‘West Writers’ programme in Melbourne's Western suburbs, and worked as Lead Producer on the innovative the ‘Creatively Ageing’ programme and the international Women of the World Festival in 2017.