In Company with New Daughters of Africa

Are you familiar with the anthology Daughters of Africa? Well there’s a new one…and I’m in it. This edition, edited again by Ghana-born UK-based Margaret Busby, and already available for pre-order, is NEW DAUGHTERS OF AFRICA.NEW_DAUGHTERS_HIGH-RES-670x1024

“Following up Margaret Busby’s landmark 1992 anthology Daughters of Africa, this companion volume brings together the words of writers from across the globe—Antigua to Zimbabwe, Angola to the USA—to honour a unifying heritage while showing the remarkable range of creativity from the African diaspora particularly in the past 25 years. Arranged chronologically, New Daughters of Africa illustrates an uplifting sense of sisterhood and the links that endure from generation to generation, as well as common obstacles writers still negotiate around issues of race, gender and class.”

I’m looking forward to being one with the community of writers in this collection – my selected contribution being a short fiction entitled ‘Evening Ritual’. I say community because I’ve been anthologized a few times now (For Women: in Tribute to Nina Simone, In the Black: New African Canadian Literature, So the Nailhead Bend So the Story End: an Anthology of Antiguan and Barbudan Writing, She Sex Prose and Poetry: Sex and the Caribbean Woman, Pepperpot: Best New Stories from the Caribbean, Round My Christmas Tree, A River of Stories) and there is something community-like about being chosen to share space with other writers. An embrace. I had that sense especially and a sense of the scope and the epic-ness of this one reading through the credits. This is a collection rooted in Africa and in the connection we share because of being limbs from that root. That’s kinda dope. Doper still to be in company with such greatness (Edwidge Dandicat, Roxane Gay, Leone Ross etc.).

I thought I’d share the names with you so you, too, can catch the excitement. So, with acknowledgment of multiple identities (born here, parents from there; born here, grew up there etc.), the authors’ countries of birth (to the best of my research) are:

Angola – Djaimilia Pereira de Almeida

Antigua and Barbuda – Joanne C. Hillhouse

Australia – Maxine Beneba Clarke

Bahamas – Marion Bethel, Patricia Glinton-Meicholas

Barbados – Karen Lord,  Yewande Omotoso

Benin – Rashidah Ismaili

Bermuda – Angela Barry

Botswana – Tjawangwa Dema, Wame Molefhe

Brazil – Deise Nunes

Burundi – Ketty Nivyabandi

Cameroon – Imbolo Mbue, Juliana Makuchi Nfah-Abbenyi

Canada – Esi Edugyan, Zetta Elliott

Cuba – Zuleica Romay

Dominica – Jane Grell, Celia Sorhaindo

Egypt – Leila Aboulela, Nawal El Saadawi

Eritrea – Hannah Azieb Pool

Ethiopia – Aida Edemariam, Maaza Mengiste

Finland – Minna Salami

France (?) – Jean Thévenet

Germany – Olumide Popoola, Jennifer Teege

Ghana – Zoe Adjonyoh, Ayesha Harruna Attah, Yaba Badoe, Ama Biney, Akosua Busia, Nana-Ama Danquah, Nana Oforiatta-Ayim

Grenada – Joan Anim-Addo, Verna Wilkins

Guyana – Andaiye, Michelle Yaa Asantewa, Charlotte Williams

Haiti – Edwidge Danticat, Anaïs Duplan, Danielle Legros Georges

Ivory Coast – Tanella Boni, Edwige Renée Dro

Jamaica – Jacqueline Bishop, Beverley Bryan, Carolyn Cooper, Ifeona Fulani,  Nalo Hopkinson,  Verene Shepherd, Andrea Stuart

Kenya – Juliane Okot Bitek, Wangui wa Goro, Wanjiku wa Ngugi,  Makena Onjerika, Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor,  Warsan Shire

Liberia – Hawa Jande Golakai

Nigeria – Ayobami Adebayo,  Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Yemisi Aribisala, Sefi Atta, Simi Bedford, Sarah Ladipo Manyika,  Irenosen Okojie,  Chinelo Okparanta, Chibundu Onuzo, Osonye Tess Onwueme, Noo Saro-Wiwa, Lola Shoneyin, Chika Unigwe

Norway – Afua Hirsch

Puerto Rico – Yvonne Denis Rosario

Somalia – Nadifa Mohamed

South Africa – Gabeba Baderoon, Nadia Davids, Diana Ferrus, Vangile Gantsho, Ashley Makue, Barbara Masekela, Lebogang Mashile, Nomavenda Mathiane, Kopano Matlwa, Natalia Molebatsi, Phillippa Yaa de Villiers,  Makhosazana Xaba

Sudan – Yassmin Abdel-Magied

Trinidad & Tobago – Lisa Allen-Agostini, Rhoda Bharath, Summer Edward, Barbara Jenkins, Rosamond King, Elizabeth Nunez, Alake Pilgrim, Marina Salandy-Brown,  Elizabeth Walcott-Hackshaw

Uganda – Harriet Anena, Monica Arac de Nyeko, Doreen Baingana, Mildred Barya, Jackee Budesta Batanda, Susan Nalugwa Kiguli, Goretti Kyomuhendo, Beatrice Lamwaka, Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi, Glaydah Namukasa,  Hilda Twongyeirwe, Ayeta Anne Wangusa

UK – Sade Adeniran, Patience Agbabi, Amma Asante,  Yvonne Bailey-Smith, Ellen Banda-Aaku, Jay Bernard, Malorie Blackman, Malika Booker, Candice Carty-Williams,  Angela Cobbinhah, Patricia Cumper,  Stella Dadzie, Yrsa Daley-Ward, Reni Eddo-Lodge, Yvvette Edwards,  Zena Edwards, Diana Evans, Bernardine Evaristo, Aminatta Forna, Carmen Harris, Zita Holbourne, Delia Jarrett-Macauley, Catherine Johnson, Patrice Lawrence, Andrea Levy,  Lesley Lokko, Ros Martin, Karen McCarthy Woolf, Bridget Minamore, Selina Nwulu,  Winsome Pinnock, Leone Ross, Suzanne Scafe, Taiye Selasi, Kadija Sesay,  Dorothea Smartt, Zadie Smith,  Ade Solanke, SuAndi, Kit de Waal , Sue Woodford-Hollick

USA – Candace Allen, Gabrielle Civil, Nah Dove, Camille Dungy, Safia Elhillo, Eve Ewing, Nikki Finney, Roxane Gay, Bonnie Greer, Margo Jefferson, Donika Kelly, Adrienne Kennedy, Lauri Kubuitsile, Aja Monet,  Bethany C. Morrow,  Nnedi Okorafor,  Zandria F. Robinson, Sapphire, Jesmyn Ward

United States Virgin Islands – Tiphanie Yanique

Zambia – Petina Gappah,  Namwali Serpell, Zukiswa Wanner

Zimbabwe – Ellah Wakatama Allfrey, Panashe Chigumadzi, Ethel Irene Kabwato, Isabella Matambanadzo, Blessing Musariri, Valerie Tagwira, Novuyo Rosa Tshuma, Yvonne Vera

Yeah, I’m the book nerd  who looked up the country of origin of all the authors in the collection – delighted at the range and happy as always to be repping Antigua and Barbuda. Shout out to the writers I’ve met along the way, the writers I probably shouldn’t meet but whose writing I’ll continue to enjoy, the ones I’ve read, and the many more I look forward to reading, and, yay, to all of us who were selected for this collection. Personal shout out as well to Jacob Ross (you know what you did).

OTHER WRITING NEWS: You can also catch additional new fiction from me, The Night the World Ended, forthcoming in The Caribbean Writer Volume 32: Rough Tides, Tough Times: Reflections and Transitions. On the non-fiction side of my writing (and freelancing life), here’s a piece on Barbuda published in Huffington Post more than a month ago now – or rather a recently discovered share of it on Repeating Islands. Something both The Caribbean Writer and Huffington Post pieces have in common – finding inspiration in the tumultuous 2017 hurricane season. And, finally, for now,  catch me reading from my latest book Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure at a panel entitled ReadCaribbean Presents Adventures for Kids at the Miami Book Fair on November 18th 2018. #onthehustle #TheWritingLife

If you’re here for the first time, my name is Joanne C. Hillhouse. I’ve authored some books – I hope you’ll check them out (and if you already have, I encourage you to post a reader review to Amazon or Goodreads, or even here); and I offer freelance services – look me up if you need any of the listed services. Thanks!

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The Antigua Conference: if you’re reading this at this posting, you can still catch some of it

This one’s going to be quick (so credit all errors or other failure to edit to that) because I’m juggling balls like a circus …juggler… but I wanted to remind you, if you’re in Antigua, that today is the last day of the 2015 edition of the annual Antigua and Barbuda Conference.

Conference organizer, Brown University Professor, Paget Henry of Antigua.

Conference organizer, Brown University Professor, Paget Henry of Antigua. (Photo by Natalie Clarke)

If absent, you’re missing some great panels. But you still have time to catch Jamaica Kincaid’s keynote address tonight (i.e Friday night)… there’s time before you head to Flames or your beach lime or other Carnival afterparty.

The panel I caught today

Me (in purple) and Jennifer Hector, widow of the late Leonard Tim Hector. In the background, media covering the event.

Me (in purple) and Jennifer Hector, widow of the late Leonard Tim Hector. In the background, media covering the event.

was chaired by Valerie Knowles Combie. Lead panelist was Althea Romeo Mark. Althea lives in Switzerland and this was her first trip home to Antigua since about 1971. Welcome home, Althea. Althea who has lived in the Caribbean, America, Africa, and Europe, spoke about ‘The Immigrant Story, the Arts and Self-Knowledge’. Quite an interesting presentation. High points her opening poem, Vessel, in fact her punctuation of the entire presentation with poetry to illuminate her family’s journey from Antigua, to the Dominican Republic initially and ultimately the world. The presentation was an honouring of that journey, the good and bad of it, in the bad column are things like slavery (how Africans came to settle in this part of the world) and xenophobia.

Her most powerful illustration of the latter was being a child recently relocated to the US Virgin Islands and being teased for the way she said “cat”: “It’s not cyat, it’s cat,” she said. “Coming from Antigua we were called garrats. I did not want to be a garret, so I learned to say cat very quickly”.

Language as a tool of belonging calls to mind the histories long tension between the Haitians and the Dominicans, and more recently, and not for the first time, the enforced expulsion of Haitians from the DR which Romeo Mark called out as racism.

The sense of dislocation that comes of being in a where where there’s “no monuments to my history” was referenced by her in another of her poems, all part of a very moving presentation – though I have to admit I’m still processing her generous (my words, not hers) characterization of curious Columbus (ground zero of the colonization of these islands and of the people who lived here and the ones who came) in one of her poems.

If Romeo Mark’s presentation was moving, Edgar Lake, who followed, was as always thought provoking. You absorb a lot of ‘new’ information during one of his presentation because he digs through the existing archives (the globally available archives not just what’s limited to the building here in Antigua) and offers up to us a buffet of our own history. There’s a lot to sift through, to be honest, too much for this quick post (the Mongrel Woman, Grace, a ground breaking case of 1827 among them). But I will say that the overarching point is we must re-think our relationship to our history and to the archiving of our history. His starting point, the collapse of the roof of the National Archives; his reminder at key junctures how much of our history has already been auctioned away (for example by clergy working among the then colonized people while pilfering their art and selling it away to England); his challenge in the end to understand that we can become a part of the process of archiving by digging in to our own family albums etc.

This point made me think of the Friends of Antigua Public Library’s Collecting Memories project, where oral histories including my own discourse on how to make cassava bread, are (or were) being collected and archived online; of my own efforts to collect and archive online the literary history of Antigua and Barbuda; and other scattered efforts to make our history accessible online (and the gaps – online Carnival Hall of Fame anyone?… anyone?), and so on, including how much more could be done as far as connecting programmes like the laptop and tablet giveaway to students and the need for active archivists.

“The archive is not the building…not the three or four government workers…it’s all of us beginning to build not only the images but the deep interpretation of our own narrative,” Lake said.

Rounding out the panel was Bernadette Farquhar, the presentation I had the least interest in going in to be honest but that does not mean that it was uninteresting, far from it. She gave a careful history of the bamboula (the food, not the dance ), though the latter was referenced by both Lake and Farquhar how it links us to Africa (the food, not the dance…though really both, I suppose), how it illustrates our innovation, and sometimes, frankly, our lack of vision. On the last point, she made the point about the opportunities missed to sustain the local palate’s interest in this ancient food and create a taste for it among the visitors to our tourism-focused islands. It would, she said, create a linkage between Agriculture and Tourism, reducing the import bill in the process. But that’s a song that’s been sung and sung, right?

So is this… why don’t more of us turn out to these things?

Actually, I know part of it, as in my case, is time. There are sessions – like yesterday’s Arts and the Growth of Self Knowledge with presentations by Adlai Murdoch and Hazra Medica that I really wanted to catch but couldn’t to today’s Issues in Contemporary Politics with presentations on Reparations by Dorbrene O’Marde, Gender by Ermina Osoba, and Entrepreneurship by Harland Henry that more of us need to catch. Will they be broadcast? posted online? or is it a case of if you missed it, you missed it… and many of us missed it. In some cases, it’s a case of when you na know you just na know. But some of it is our distraction by shiny things at the cost of opportunities for discourse on our situation, or maybe the discussion needs to be held somewhere else – online spaces perhaps? The venue this year was the University Centre and the Youth Enlightenment Academy. And depending on your definition of youth, not many or any to be found.

Kudos though to the organizers for sustaining this annual conference for 10 years.

Here’s the full conference schedule. It wraps with tonight’s keynote which begins at 7 p.m.