Notable award winning African writers, Chimamanda Adichie and Binyavanga Wainaina, have expressed worry over what they described as the dearth of literary works in African languages, pointing that the trend portends a bleak future for the continent. Adichie and Wainaina, who are both facilitators of the annual Nigerian Breweries/Farafina Creative Writing Workshop (CWW), raised this concern, weekend, during the Nigerian Breweries/Farafina 2015 Literary Evening with Chimamanda Adichie, held at the Oriental Hotels, Victoria Island, Lagos.
Of the over 1, 500 budding African writers who applied for the event, just 25 emerged finalists and were celebrated and given certificates of participation by the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Breweries, Nicolass Vervelde . Interestingly, the finalists were mostly made up of Nigerian and Kenyan writers coming from fields other than the literary.
Earlier, Vervelde, who affirmed that over the last seven years, the CWW initiative has helped in the discovery of many talents in Africa said: “It is always a great pleasure for me to join this gathering of distinguished men and women of letters which brings to an end our annual Creative Writing Workshop organized by Farafina Trust and sponsored by Nigerian Breweries Plc. As a socially responsible company, Nigerian Breweries remains committed to winning with Nigeria by championing causes that add value to the society.
“When Nigerian Breweries began this partnership with Farafina Trust to sponsor the Creative Writers Workshop seven years ago, this partnership was founded on our company’s desire to encourage the development of literary writing skills in Nigeria, as part of our strategic corporate initiative for talent development and youth empowerment in Nigeria.
“Since then, the CCW has become a major item in our Corporate Social responsibility calendar. Through this platform, driven by Chimamanda Adichie, Nigeria’s award winning writer and Director of Farafina Trust, Nigerian Breweries and Farafina Trust have helped to discover and nurture literary skills in Nigeria.
He commended the facilitators for this year; Chimamanda, Aslak Sira Myhre and Binyavanga Wainaina who have been part of the literary workshop since its inception in 2009. It is our collective hope that the writers chosen for the workshop this year will have the potential to become future best sellers in literature as they make a commitment to the lessons learnt during the workshop,” said Vervelde.
Speaking at the event, Adichie who urged African parents to imbibe the culture of promoting African languages among their children, however said: “My dream for this workshop is to create a pan-African platform for Nigerians to live up their dream. This year, the CCW was open to everybody irrespective of the age. We have over 1500 entries every year, but we just select 25 people. The write-up of the 25 people selected this year was indeed spectacular. Writing workshops don’t teach you how to write, but they give you validation, spurs you wanting to go out to do better.”
The award winning writer added that “You don’t have to be beautiful to get into this workshop, but you need to tell the African stories. I advise our parents to allow their children to read wide, not test books. Instead of buying your children two pairs of shoes, buy them one pair and buy them books. Poor reading culture is one problem we have in Africa, but when parents do this, they are building a future for their children. I’m indeed happy that Nigeria has a generation that knows that their stories are really valid and they can share it through writing.”
On his part, Wainaina, who also decried the dearth of literary works in African languages, however said there was a general improvement in commitment and talent among the participants of this year’s workshop. He said: “The same sense of commitment you see in the young women was also seen in the young men who participated in this year’s edition of the Nigerian Breweries/Farafina Creative Writing Workshop. It’s indeed a beautiful generation of writers.”