Community Calendar

Boundless: Africa

Tuesday, February 4 at 1:30 pm
at The Kennedy Center REACH campus and George Mason University

Boundless: Africa, a collaboration between the Kennedy Center, the Camargo Foundation, the Alan Cheuse International Writers Center at George Mason University, and the Caine Prize for African Writing, will be presented on Tuesday, February 4 and Wednesday, February 5 at the recently opened REACH campus at the Kennedy Center and at George Mason University. This literary mini-series features top playwrights, poets, and writers from Africa and the Diaspora, including the U.S., who will discuss a variety of issues across the boundaries of genre, art form, geography and time.

The program will include a staged reading of a play by a recent Camargo Foundation fellow, panel conversations featuring winners of the prestigious Caine Prize for African Writing, craft talks and a concluding dinner that will also feature performances from the gathered artists, each of whom will, in their own way, attempt to invoke the themes and possibilities for a boundless African future. Event and ticket information can be found on the Kennedy Center website at https://www.kennedy-center.org/whats-on/calendar

 

Ben Okri is a poet, novelist, and playwright who was born in Nigeria and lives in London. His novel The Famished Road won the Booker Prize in 1991, and his works have been translated into 26 languages. He was a Fellow Commoner in Creative Arts at Trinity College in Cambridge (1991-1992) and is currently a Royal Society of Literature Fellow.

Okri’s books have won many international prizes, and he has received numerous honorary doctorates. He is a vice president of the English Centre of PEN International and was presented the Crystal Award by the World Economic Forum for his outstanding contribution to the arts and cross-cultural understanding. He also wrote the film script for N: The Madness of Reason and is an honorary fellow at Mansfield College, Oxford. His latest novel is The Freedom Artist, and his most recent book is Prayer for the Living, a volume of short stories.

Femi Osofisan, (aka Okinba Launko), is an activist playwright, scholar, poet, novelist, journalist, actor, director, song writer, and more. He has published five novellas, six volumes of poetry, and dozens of plays that have been translated into various languages. He won Nigeria’s highest academic award, the Nigerian National Order of Merit Award, in 2004, and was the 2016 international Thalia Laureate, the first African to win this prestigious prize awarded by the International Association of Theatre Critics. He currently lives in Nigeria, where he is Emeritus Professor of Theatre Arts at the University of Ibadan as well as Distinguished Professor of Performing Arts at Kwara State University, Ilorin.

Osofisan’s most recent work is about three fascinating women—Efua Sutherland, Maryse Condé, and Maya Angelou—and their lives in Nkrumah’s Ghana in the 1960s, long before they became celebrities. It is the second of a trilogy of plays exploring the experience of African descendants who returned to the continent from the diaspora at the beginning of Independence in the early 1960s with the hope of contributing to the construction of the new nations.

Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi is a Ugandan fiction writer. Her first novel, Kintu, won the Kwani? Manuscript Project in 2013. Her short story “Let’s Tell This Story Properly” won the regional (Africa) and Global Commonwealth short story prize in 2014. Her collection of short stories, Manchester Happened (UK/Commonwealth title; published as Let’s Tell This Story Properly in the U.S.), came out in Spring 2019 and has been shortlisted for the Hearst UK’s Big Book prize (Harper’s Bazaar). Makumbi has a PhD from Lancaster University and lecturers at Manchester Metropolitan University. She is a recipient of the Windham-Campbell Literature Prize (2018) and is currently a Cheuse International Writing Fellow.

Lesley Nneka Arimah was born in the U.K., grew up in both Nigeria and the U.K., and in her early teens moved to the U.S. She is the author of What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky (2017), which explores the ties that bind us—parents and children, husbands and wives, lovers and friends—to one another and to the places we call home. The book won the 2017 Kirkus Prize for Fiction and the 2018 NYPL Young Lions Fiction Award, was a finalist for the Aspen Prize, and was named one of the most anticipated books of 2017 by Time magazine, Elle, the Chicago Tribune, the Boston Globe, The Millions, Nylon, and the Minneapolis Star Tribune. In addition, it was selected by the National Book Foundation as a 2017 5 Under 35 honoree.

Arimah’s short story “Skinned,” published in Timothy McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, Issue 53, won the 2019 Caine Prize for African Writing. She has also won an O. Henry Prize, was the Africa Regional Winner for the 2015 Commonwealth Short Story Prize, and was shortlisted for the 2016 Caine Prize for African Writing. She has received grants and awards from AWP, the Elizabeth George Foundation, the Jerome Foundation and others. Her short stories have appeared in numerous journals and magazines, including Harper’s, Granta and the New Yorker, which nominated her for a National Magazine Award.