Big Words – Femke van Zeijl

Tap, tap, tap. Her typifemkeng was getting to me. I detested it. I distracted myself staring around. The dreadfully cold room was filled with over 20 people.’ Nigerian Irene Nwoye describes the frustration of a writer lacking inspiration while next to her another participant of the literary work-shop starts typing away effortlessly from the moment the workshop leader explained the assignment. The teacher is one of international standing: Nigerian fiction writer Chimimanda Adichie, whose work has been translated in over thirty languages. Farafina Trust, the literary non-profit organisation of the awarded author, has organised this creative writing workshop in Lagos for the fifth year in a row. It is meant for African writers – whether they are experienced or have just started – to stimulate the literary talent on the continent. Its essential that we Africans tell our own stories’, explains Adichie. The twenty participants have been selected on the basis of the short stories they entered.- this year about five hundred authors competed for a place in the workshop. The participants are mostly Nigerian — except for two writers from Botswana – and with fourteen, women are in the majority. It is a varied group. Someone like the Botswanan Lauri Kubuitsile, a full time writer who got nominated for the prestigious Caine Prize for African literature this year, participates just as intensively as Morenike Singerr, a Nigerian law student who writes for pleasure.

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