AWDT: Helping Africa's young writers out of obscurity

November 2019 would forever remain indelible in the minds of six young African writers.

The six writers are Modou Lamin Sowe from The Gambia; Sakina TraorĂ©, from Cote D' Ivoire; Tega Oghenechovwen, from Nigeria; Ngang God'swill N, from Cameroon; Maryam Boyi, from Nigeria and Edem Azah, from Ghana.

They would never forget November 2019 because of their convergence in Abuja, the Nigeria’s Capital city, for a residency program organised by the African Writers Development Trust, AWDT. The residency started on the 1st of November and ended on the 21st. 

According to their accounts, the residency program tagged: ‘PenPen Africa Writers Residency’, was an opportunity for them not only to learn how to improve their art, but also an opportunity for learning new cultures, new environment and, above all, an opportunity to make more friends and writer colleagues.

Speaking on her experience during residency, Ms Edem Azah said she learnt a lot about other residents’ cultures and how to live together without a fight.
“I am grateful to organisers for making this opportunity available to. I hope I can actually make use of what I have learnt to make myself a better writer,” she said.

As for the Cameroonian, Mr God'swill N, coming to Nigeria as well as leaving out of his country for the first time were some of the fascinating experiences he would live to remember.
He said: “This is my first time of leaving my country. In fact, this is my first time of boarding a plane. And I have met fascinating people.
“For example, before coming here, I used to have different perception about Muslims and Islam, and Hausa people.
“These experiences have been enlightening and they would add flesh to my future writing. This residency has actually boosted my creativity.
“I wrote some few lines during my stay and I think they are one of my best output. That tells a lot about coming to this residency and the type of community I was initiated into,” Mr God'swill N stated.

 According to the Ivorian, Ms Sakina, "coming to this residency made me feel the African-ness in me. We don’t need to be of the same tribe, religion and country to live happily. So, I enjoyed myself in this residency. I was introduced to different delicacies.”

The organizers explained that the residency is in two phases. The first one was just concluded in Abuja while the second one will hold in Nairobi, Kenya. Kenya's will also feature six writers.
Also, each of the residents is expected to produce two stories which would be compiled into an anthology.

The name PenPen Africa is derived from the word “Pen” and in this context is used in its duality to symbolise first, the process of writing and second, a place of enclosure used to house a particular species.
The PenPen Africa project, an initiative of the AWDT, is targeted at promoting cultural integration among Africans, using literature. The project’s lifecycle commenced July 1, 2019 and will end June 30, 2020.

The project is implemented in partnership with the Writers Guild Kenya. It is funded by Culture at Work Africa and co-funded by the European Union. As the Abuja's residency was for writers from West Africa, Kenya's residency will feature writers from East Africa.