Africa Day: Centre for Stories to launch writing competition for African-Australians

Sisonke Msimang will be speaking on Wednesday night.
Sisonke Msimang will be speaking on Wednesday night.

Perth book lovers can broaden their horizons at Northbridge’s Centre for Stories on Wednesday night, at an event focusing on the richness of African literature.

The event, coinciding with Africa Day, will also mark the launch of a new flash fiction competition for African-Australian writers.

The theme of the competition is ‘Ways of Being Here’.

One of the speakers at the event is Sisonke Msimang, a writer and activist who has been published extensively in The New York Times, Guardian UK and Huffington Post.

Ms Msimang, who is based in Perth, said competitions like this one were instrumental in getting people from non-writing backgrounds to try their hand at expressing themselves on the page.

“I think globally we’ve seen this move towards getting people who ordinarily wouldn’t have been considered to be writers to think about themselves as having a voice,” Ms Msimang said.

“We have two objectives with this competition. One is obviously to unearth new talent.

“The second is to get people to recognise, whether or not they want to be a writer, that they have a way of expressing themselves.

“What we’re hoping to do is spark an interest.”

Ms Msimang said Perth was uniquely placed, with so many people of dual heritage.

“Perth is in a very interesting position, having so many migrants, and you’re starting to see first and second generation Africans who really consider themselves Australian,” she said.

“The theme ‘Ways of Being Here’, we’re interested in people’s ability to articulate what it means to be of a dual heritage.

“To have grown up in one place and have your parents be from somewhere else.”

Ms Msimang is in the final stages of writing her first memoir, Always Another Country: How to Find Home.

And for those interested in exploring African literature, she had three picks for readers.

Ms Msimang described Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart as the “seminal African contemporary novel”, and recommended “anything by Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie “, but Half of a Yellow Sun in particular.

For her third selection, she chose So Long a Letter, by Mariama Ba.

For details of the event, visit the Centre for Stories website.