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The final of this year’s Africa Talks series focuses on stories, both true and invented, with Africa at their heart. We’ll discuss ways in which stories of Africa work to define our understanding of the continent, learn about important works that are yet to reach English-speaking readers, 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?
Host Santilla Chingaipe and guests including Abdi Aden, Alia Gabres and Valanga Khoza will explore the most exciting new work from African writers and storytellers, the classics of African literature and the recent crop of local books with Africa at their core.
Zambian-born Santilla Chingaipe is an award winning journalist and documentary filmmaker. She spent seven years working for SBS World News, which saw her reporting from Kenya, South Sudan, Tanzania and Zambia and interviewing some of Africa’s most prominent leaders.
She reports extensively on Australia’s diverse African community and recently presented a one-off documentary for SBS, Date My Race, which aired in February. Santilla is currently directing and producing documentary on the complexities of Australia’s South Sudanese community.
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 is a CACD practitioner with a focus on arts facilitation using storytelling as a tool for knowledge generation and cultural transmission.
In 2016 she was invited to attend the Makassar International Writers Festival in Indonesia and 2015 saw Alia awarded as one of Melbourne Writers Festivals ’30 Under 30’, attend the Africa Writes Festival in the UK and complete a residency at the School for Social Sciences in Eritrea.
People from Africa arrived in Australia with the First Fleet, but large-scale African immigration to Australia is much more recent – and is hugely diverse. While South Africa and Egypt top the list of African migrants to Australia, Melbourne’s largest African communities are from Sudan and Mauritius – and we’re home to more than half the arrivals from Ethiopia and Somalia.
How do we engage with the African community – or rather, communities? What do we know about the more than 50 countries in this vast – and diverse – continent? And what do we think we know, but actually get wrong?
Zambian-born Santilla Chingaipe, an award-winning SBS journalist, will explore the issues and challenge our perceptions in a series of events that tease out the complexities of African-Australian identity, representation and politics.