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AFRICA – African writers and artists celebrate the 20th anniversary of the African Union


Meet African writers and visual artists chosen to help celebrate the 20th anniversary of the African Union. The five selected writers will be hosted at the Library of Africa and the African Diaspora (LOATAD) in Accra, Ghana

As part of the AU20 Artist Residency Program, ten (10) African writers and visual artists have been selected to contribute their creative ideas to the African Union’s 20th anniversary celebrations.

The continental call for applications under the theme AU20 “Our Africa, Our Future” attracted nearly 1,000 applications, 10 of which were selected for the AU20 Artist and Writer Residency Program. In response to the call, 392 applications were received for the writers’ residence and 602 for the artists’ residence.

As part of the Residency Program, the five selected writers will be housed at the Library of Africa and the African Diaspora (LOATAD) in Accra, Ghana, while the five visual artists will be based at the Loman Art House in Dakar, Senegal.

During their residency period, artists will have the time and space they need to develop and carry out their projects. All will be mentored and supported by organized workshops, resources and activities. A public presentation of the works produced by the visual artists during their three-week residency at the Loman Art House in Dakar will take place on 19 November. The writers will participate in a digital residency followed by a two-week real residency in Accra. They will present their poems and short stories at the LOATAD in Accra on 26 November.

The five writers are:
Nour Kamel, Egyptian poet and editor, is passionate about exploring his country’s relationship with the African continent. His poem will evoke the diverse and varied facets of African identity and how Africans intersect from one nation state to another.
Sukoluhle Nyathi, Zimbabwean creative writer, also editor and data analyst, will address in a news of Africa’s economic liberation as a unifying goal for the continent.
Tony Mochama, a Kenyan writer and journalist, wants to tell a short, futuristic and captivating African story that transcends generational and national boundaries on the continent.
TJ Benson is an award-winning Nigerian novelist who will write a short story about alternative structures that have emerged across the continent in response to Covid-19 and how they can help in advance of future global events.
Musih Tedji Xaviere, is an award-winning Cameroonian writer; in his futuristic short story, Africa will be presented as a world superpower.

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The five visual artists are:
Eza Komla is a multidisciplinary Togolese artist who, through his work, explores climate change and recovers waste to transform it into art.
Award-winning Ugandan artist Ronald Odur will use aluminum printing plates, copper wire and acrylics to create a sculpture that expresses the complexity of social and political interactions in Africa.
Natnael Ashebir is an Ethiopian visual artist who uses painting, digital art, drawing and photography to explore urbanization and social structures.
South African artist Lerato Motaung is inspired by the intangible and combines the familiar and the imaginary to create a personal and intuitive evocation of the continent’s history.

Senami Donoumassou, a Beninese artist, will use photograms, drawings and protean installations to explore identity, memory, heritage and history.
Organized by the African Union in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the AU20 initiative contains various initiatives to celebrate the implementation of the African Union’s mandates and programmes over its 20-year history.
Leslie Richer, Director of Information and Communication at the African Union, said: The AU20 Artist and Writer Residency Program is an exciting part of celebrating our organization’s history. It not only highlights the voices of those whom society has entrusted, through their talent and creativity, to preserve, celebrate and magnify the diversity of our African culture and heritage, but it also guarantees the inclusion of culture and heritage in Aspiration 5 of the development framework of Agenda 2063 for Africa, which aims to build “an Africa with a strong cultural identity, a common heritage and shared values and ethics”.
Mr. Jide Okeke, Regional Programme Coordinator at UNDP Africa, said: Storytellers and creatives contribute to socio-economic development. They remind us of our collective history, reflect current realities and inspire us for the future. That is why we are pleased to welcome these creative voices to the AU20 celebrations. By fostering the development of creativity, we are also fostering the sustainable development of Africa.”

The AU20 Artist and Writer Residency Program will produce an anthology that will be published and will conclude with an exhibition at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa-Abeba, Ethiopia, so that the work of the ten artists can be seen by African Heads of State and Government, by other African and international personalities, and by citizens and visitors attending the AU headquarters.
Source: United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)


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