Aishhhh! I really feel bad about this, but truth be told, I am at a disadvantage this year. Handicapped. Who would have thought keeping a day job would be so hard. Over the years, I have drifted away from the people who have influenced me in more ways than one. Last year, I found myself indisposed and to my eternal shame, I wasn’t able to attend.
I offered a thousand apologies to the gods of African literature. It’s still a mystery what kept me that was so important that I would miss the most happening of festivals. All I could do was was sulk from afar as I followed the long-listed and the shortlisted writers, hoping against all hope, that somehow, by some stroke of luck; a sleight of hand my name would appear among. I mean, who wouldn’t love that? To my dismay, due to a typing error, my name didn’t appear among the writers of note.
But I am still hopeful, this year too. Miracles happen, no?
This year, the festival theme couldn’t have been more relevant. Friends and foes I hadn’t crossed paths with for two years were suddenly in my embrace or within my stink-eye peripheral vision. We reminisced over the old days, my old literature which frankly I hadn’t thought about in years and I congratulated them on their new works, reveling in their new status on the African literary scene.
Alright, before I get ahead of myself, back to the beginning. Like I said, I am at a disadvantage this year. I am attending the Writivism 2016 festival, but not quite. I am daily at the National Museum with the hardworking Writivism team, rubbing shoulders with the minions who are the heart and the soul of this entire festival. The time I leave at 7 pm is when those lucky bastards, the late comers arrive for the juicy bits. But don’t get me wrong. I am not sour-griping. I just wished to be among.
The Writivism Festival is a potpourri of African voices milling in the crowd. I don’t know about you but I experience a mild Pan African vibe during the festival week. At this moment in time, borders vanish in an imaginary smoke and we welcome each other’s uniqueness. I guess the rest of the world called it before we even knew it was a thing: Africa is a country. Those shapeless invisible borders do not divide us, when we choose to ignore them. We just got lost in our struggle for identity. To re-purpose a quote, our collective identity was buried under the yoke of subservience. What they didn’t realise was it was a seed that is now grown and has blossomed. The time has come to restore connections.
And I am tapping into that mojo.