April 14, 2008
International Writers Project
Under the Tongue: African Writers Converge at Brown
The International Writers Project at Brown University presents Under the Tongue: A Festival of Literature from Africa, on April 15 and 16, 2008. This series of readings and discussions will feature award-winning African novelists Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Nigeria), Nuruddin Farah (Somalia), and Chenjerai Hove (Zimbabwe); poet Jack Mapanje (Malawi); and playwrights Pierre Mumbere Mujomba (Congo) and Charles Mulekwa (Uganda). All events are free and open to the public.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Chenjerai Hove, a fellow in Brown University’s International Writers Project and a leading figure of post-colonial Zimbabwean literature, will speak as part of Under the Tongue: A Festival of Literature from Africa, a conference sponsored by Brown’s Program in Literary Arts and the Watson Institute for International Studies.
The readings, discussions and other events at the conference, which runs April 15 and 16, 2008, are free and open to the public.
Hove’s novels, poetry, essays and newspaper columns have earned him numerous awards. Hove was forced from his homeland seven years ago by the government of President Robert Mugabe. He watches the current post-election upheaval not surrounded by friends and neighbors but through a computer screen a world away.
The Zimbabwe government first noticed Hove for his political writings, his novel Masimba Avanhu? – which translates to Is This the People’s Power? – and his play Sister Sing Again Someday, both of which address the situation of women in Zimbabwe. Hove’s home was burglarized and his unpublished writings were stolen, both by the police.
After constant surveillance and threats to his family, Hove left Zimbabwe in 2001. International writers refuge groups found him a temporary placement in France, then in Stavanger, Norway, before Brown brought him to Providence in 2007 for a year-long International Writers Project fellowship.
“Not only does the fellowship provide needed support and sanctuary to an individual writer, it also signals a commitment to the principle of freedom of expression and, through its associated cultural programs, seeks to heighten awareness of that principle’s vulnerability and the need for international solidarity in its protection,” Robert Coover, director of the International Writers Project, has said.
“When I take up my pen to write, I feel the strength of standing up and refusing to be silent,” Hove has said. “In an oppressive situation, silence is death.”
Hove and other African writers will share their stories at a forum titled: “Warning: Writing May Be Hazardous to Your Health: Present-Day Threats to Freedom of Expression.” The forum will be held April 15 at 3:30 p.m. in the Joukowsky Forum at the Watson Institute for International Studies, 111 Thayer St.
Other award-winning writers will be on the panel: Somalian novelist Nuruddin Farah, winner of the Neustadt International Prize for Literature; poet and novelist Jack Mapanje of Malawi; and playwright and 2005 International Writer’s Program fellow Pierre Mumbere Mujomba of Congo. Joanne Leedom-Ackerman of PEN International and Larry Siems, director of the Freedom to Write program at the PEN American Center, also will participate.
Additional readings and discussions and other events will take place April 15 and 16 featuring acclaimed African novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie of Nigeria and playwright Charles Mulekwa of Uganda.
The William H. Donner Foundation and the Department of Africana Studies and the Office of the President at Brown are funding Under the Tongue. Further information is available online at www.brown.edu/underthetongue.
Under the Tongue: A Festival of Literature from Africa
3 p.m., Joukowsky Forum, Watson Institute for International
Studies, 111 Thayer St
3:30 p.m., Joukowsky Forum
8 p.m., McCormack Family Theater, 70 Brown St.
Wednesday, April 16
11 a.m., Joukowsky Forum
3 p.m., George Houston Bass Performing Arts Center, Churchill
House, 155 Angell St.
8 p.m., McCormack Family Theater
The International Writers Project
Brown University has a long history of providing support to international writers facing persecution and suppression of their work. The University has welcomed dozens of exiled writers at past festivals on campus and has hosted fellows from Cuba, China, the Congo, Somalia and Iran. Brown is a member of the International Academy for Scholarship and the Arts, a consortium of 20 colleges and universities committed to providing support for writers facing political oppression. Through its faculty and alumni, Brown has links to Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and PEN.
Since 2003, the International Writers Project Fellowship at Brown University has provided institutional, artistic and social support to writers who face personal danger, oppression and/or threats to their livelihood in nations throughout the world. The fellowship, sponsored by a grant from the William H. Donner Foundation, is awarded annually to a writer who is unable to practice free expression in his or her homeland. In addition, the IWP sponsors festivals such as “Under the Tongue” that celebrate the cultural heritage of each fellow and seek to increase awareness of the situation of international writers worldwide and in the IWP fellow’s homeland.
For press credentials, interview requests, photo requests or more information, contact Elaine Beebe, Office of Media Relations, at (401) 863-2478 or Elaine_Beebe@brown.edu.
Editors: Brown University has a fiber link television studio available for domestic and international live and taped interviews, and maintains an ISDN line for radio interviews. For more information, call (401) 863-2476.