African Writers Conference call for papers open

Submissions are open for the eight annual Africa Century International Writers Conference!

19 March 2019 - 10:19

The eighth annual Africa Century International African Writers Conference (ACIAWC) invites papers and panel proposals, interpreting the theme:

“Africa Writing in Tongues: Towards Social, Political, Heritage and Culture Justice”
Celebrating UNESCO’s International Year of Indigenous Languages (IY2019)

7th November 2019

University of South Africa (UNISA), Muckleneuk Campus. Preller Street, Muckleneuk, Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa

Abstract Submission Opens: February 25 2019
Deadline for Abstract Submissions: June 10 2019
Deadline for submission of full papers for accepted abstracts: September 23 2019

The conference is an imbizo of authors, poets, literary critics, language practitioners and historians from across Africa, the Diaspora and the globe. Every year these role-players meet to explore the role of writers in society and hoping to influence the ongoing debates on languages and African identity, culture, heritage and embellishment of African values.

The Conference theme for 2019 is a sequel to that of last year (2018) - Unifying Africa: Writing and Reading African Languages. Presentations focused on the role of language in society and how Africa can advance herself through a sustainable future.

Prof Professor Mandla Stanley Makhanya, Principal and Vice Chancellor of the University of South Africa, who is the 8th Africa Century International African Writers Conference (2019) Keynote Speaker, will deliver the 8th International African Writers Day Lecture, under the Conference theme “Africa Writing in Tongues: The Writer, Social and Political Justice, Heritage and Culture”.

The Conference is in line with the United Nations (UN) declaration that 2019 is the International Year of Indigenous Languages (IY2019). The UN wants to raise awareness of indigenous languages not only to benefit native speakers of these languages, “but also for others to appreciate the important contribution they make to our world’s rich cultural diversity”.

The UN explicates: 
Languages play a crucial role in the daily lives of people, not only as a tool for communication, education, social integration and development, but also as a repository for each person’s unique identity, cultural history, traditions and memory.

Despite their immense value, languages around the world continue to disappear at an alarming rate. Indigenous languages struggle for survival around the world as they exist in danger of extinction.

Languages have become part of social justice, human rights and identity. The dominance of some western European languages threaten the existence of indigenous languages and we all need a planetary system where all languages should be able to live side by side.

However, colonialism has ensured that the indigenous languages are marginalised, hence Sabelo Ndlovu-Gatsheni (2018) speaks of linguicides and how the provincialisation of Europe is necessary whilst we deprovincialise Africa. Ndlovu-Gatsheni, in his latest work, Epistemic Freedom in Africa, writes about Africa as an epistemic site that experienced not only colonial genocides but also theft of history. Furthermore, Ndlovu-Gatsheni (2018) posits that colonisation included epistemicides (killing of indigenous people’s knowledges), and linguicides (killing of indigenous people’s languages).

“Therefore, African people’s epistemic struggles are both old and new. They are old in the sense that they emerged at the very time of colonial encounters. They are new in the sense that they are re-emerging within a context of a deep present global systemic and epistemic crisis” (Ndlovu-Gatsheni 2018:3).

Using indigenous languages in Africa can help break the alienation that indigenous language speakers usually experience, it can help empower communities and close achievement gaps in learning institutions, thus bringing closer the ideal of a decolonised society. Chief among these is the ideal of nation building.

The ability to foster sustainable development needs indigenous language speakers to be confident with a raised self-esteem. Language is also related to poverty alleviation. However, for people to participate in development initiatives, they have to be empowered linguistically for “linguistic inclusion is directly linked to mother tongue/language.

Philosophers in Africa such as Hountondji have argued that philosophers in African philosophy will be ineffective if they continue thinking in Western techniques, using Western languages, then translate these as African philosophy. African philosophers need to think in their own languages to be effective. Oruka (1991:17) contends that research needs to “help substantiate or invalidate the claim that traditional African peoples were innocent of logical and critical thinking”.

Presentations for the conference may include, but are not limited to the following sub-themes:

• Children’s Literature and African Indigenous Languages

• The Role of Indigenous Languages and Nation Building

• The Role of Indigenous Languages in Economic Development and Sustainability

• Harmonisation of Indigenous African Languages

• Schools and the Utilisation of Indigenous Languages

• Language, Culture, Beliefs and the Land Question

• The Influence of Language, Culture and Heritage in Addressing Gender Inequality

• The Role of the African Writer in Society

Prospective presenters should, please, submit chapter proposals or abstracts of between 200-300 words with a short biographical note, as well as contact details.

Email all abstracts (MS Word) and queries to:

Abstracts will be adjudicated anonymously and notification of acceptance/rejection will be sent by email by June 24 2019.

The Conference’s Intellectual Committee will select the best papers for those who send full papers for inclusion in a book that will come out in November 2021, at the 10th Africa Century International African Writers Conference.

A full paper will be 6000 words minimum but not more than 8000 words. The book will be peer reviewed to meet the DHET requirements for peer reviews.

Important Dates

Abstract submissions open: 25 February 2019

Deadline for abstracts submission: 10 June 2019

Notification of abstracts acceptance: 24 June 2019

Full paper submission: 23 September 2019 (please note this is compulsory and the deadline should be adhered to)

Programme finalised: 30th September 2019

Conference date: 07 November 2019

South African Literary Awards (SALA): 07 November 2019 (evening)