Teju Cole | Reading, Harvard Book Store

Every Day Is for the Thief

Teju Cole’s latest literary work.

Harvard Book Store will be welcoming PEN/Hemingway Award–winning author Teju Cole for a reading from his new book Every Day Is for the Thief. The reading will take place on Friday April 4th 2014 at 7PM.  The event is free.

The novella is about a young Nigerian living in New York City who goes home to Lagos for a short visit, finding a city both familiar and strange. In a city dense with story, the unnamed narrator moves through a mosaic of life, hoping to find inspiration for his own. He witnesses the “yahoo yahoo” diligently perpetrating email frauds from an Internet café, longs after a mysterious woman reading on a public bus who disembarks and disappears into a bookless crowd, and recalls the tragic fate of an eleven-year-old boy accused of stealing at a local market. Along the way, the man reconnects with old friends, a former girlfriend, and extended family, taps into the energies of Lagos life—creative, malevolent, ambiguous—and slowly begins to reconcile the profound changes that have taken place in his country and the truth about himself.

Teju Cole

Teju Cole, Illustration by Jillian Tamaki

Every Day Is for the Thief—originally published in Nigeria in 2007—is a wholly original work of fiction. This revised and updated edition is the first version of this unique book to be made available outside Africa.

Every Day Is for the Thief, by turns funny, mournful, and acerbic, offers a portrait of Nigeria in which anger, perhaps the most natural response to the often lamentable state of affairs there, is somehow muted and deflected by the author’s deep engagement with the country: a profoundly disenchanted love. Teju Cole is among the most gifted writers of his generation.

Salman Rushdie

[Teju Cole] casts a spell that’s hard to classify. . . . Open City earned its author comparisons to the German writer W. G. Sebald, whose work wanders and ruminates in a similar way. Every Day Is for the Thief includes photos that Mr. Cole took in Lagos, a Sebaldian touch that is likely to keep the comparisons coming.

The New York Times

Teju cole interview mag

Cole is in the March 2014 issue of Interview Magazine (print only)

Cole was recently interviewed by The New York Times for their Sunday Book Review series where he touched on what he is currently reading, his favourite novelists, reading experiences in his childhood, favourite overlooked writers, poets, art history books and works that made him laugh and cry. Still my favourite exchange is this one,

NYT: What books are you embarrassed not to have read yet?

TJ: I have not read most of the big 19th-century novels that people consider “essential,” nor most of the 20th-century ones for that matter. But this does not embarrass me. There are many films to see, many friends to visit, many walks to take, many playlists to assemble and many favorite books to reread. Life’s too short for anxious score-keeping. Also, my grandmother is illiterate, and she’s one of the best people I know. Reading is a deep personal consolation for me, but other things console, too.

harvard book store

Photo credit: Harvard Book Store.

Tickets: This event is FREE.

Date: Friday April 4, 2014, 7PM

Where: Harvard Book Store, 1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Follow Teju Cole at his official Twitter (where you can read his Small Fates series) and website (where you can also find out more about his photography).

Kwani at 10 | Book and Art Party


Kwani Trust are celebrating their 10 year anniversary with a programme of special events. On Friday 29th November, Kwani? present a lecture titled Contemporary African Writing in the context of 50 years by renowned author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie from 2.30pm – 4.00pm at the 844 Building, University of Nairobi (please note change of venue from Taifa Hall)
Free entry (by Pre-registration ONLY) Register here.

Also on Friday, there will be a joint launch of Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor’s Dust and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah at the Marshall’s Service Workshop/ Warehouse from 8.00pm.


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Storymoja Hay Festival, 19 – 22 September 2013


The Storymoja Hay Festival is organized in collaboration with Storymoja and the Hay Festival (UK). It will be held on the 19th to 22nd September at Nairobi National Museum, Nairobi. This year, author, art historian and distinguished writer in residence at Bard College Teju Cole is also participating.

This year’s festival theme is: Imagine the World! Waza Dunia!

Founded in 2008 The Storymoja Hay Festival is a four day celebration of stories, ideas, writing and contemporary culture through storytelling, books, live discussion forums, workshops, debates, live performances, competitions, mchongoano and music. This year, there are over 60 events. The festival attracts the most exciting local and international writers and thinkers.
The Schools Programme and the Storyhippo Children’s Village offers exciting activities and sessions for children ranging from creative writing classes, dance and theatre camps, publish your own book session and fun science experiments.

Meet with the brightest thinkers from home & abroad; literature, technology, innovation, self-development, wealth creation, art and music.


Highlights | Film screenings:

The Global Seminar – Documentary Filmmaking in Kenya: The Art of Science Storytelling

Saturday 21st, 11:00, Ford Hall

Film screenings of The Matriarch, Curse of the Gazelle King, Nature’s Nurturers, Re-alignments: A Zebra’s Story, The Lost Boys of Laikipia.
Followed by a Q&A with the filmmakers; Muhinza Bushoki, Kevin Midigo, Loise Njagi, Maryanne Wangui Njuguna, Victor Oloo and teaching assistant Karim Kara. Presented by Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, the Princeton Atelier &the Program in Visual Arts of the Lewis Center for the Arts, & by the Princeton Environmental Institute

New Year’s Eve

Saturday 21st, 17:00, Discovery Hall
The Kenyan premiere screening of the Commonwealth Short Film New Year’s Eve. As a New Year’s Eve party plays out, Baraza is forced to find the courage to come clean. He risks shattering an entire way of life. Followed by a Q&A with filmmaker Wanjiru Kairu.


Highlights | Talks:

Voicing The Unspoken

Saturday 21st, 11:00, Storymoja Amphitheatre

Warsan Shire, Dr Neal Hall, Mongane Wally Serote and Njeri Wangari
Warsan Shire (Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth) won the Brunel University African Poetry Prize. Dr. Neal Hall (Nigger for Life) has won over 10 prizes for poetry in book festivals around the world. Mongane Wally Serote (Yakhal’Inkomo) has won the Ingrid Jonker Poetry Prize, the Noma Award for Publishing in Africa and was a Fulbright Scholar. These multiple-award-winning poets read from their work and talk to Kenyan Poet, Njeri Wangari (Mines and Mindfields) about asylum, war, love, loss, borders, insanity, race, identity and inequality.

Teju Cole in conversation with John Sibi-Okumu | Open City

Saturday 21st, 13:00, Louis Leakey Auditorium
This story of a young Nigerian-German psychiatrist in New York City five years after 9/11 was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and won both the PEN/Hemingway Award and the Internationaler Literaturpreis. ‘A powerful and un-nerving inquiry into the human soul. Open City is

a profoundly original work, intellectually stimulating and possessing of a style both engaging and seductive.

– Time Magazine.

John Sibi-Okumu is a Kenyan playwright (Role Play and Minister Karibu) journalist and actor best known internationally for his role in The Constant Gardener.


The Commonwealth Writers Conversation: The Untold Story

Saturday 21st, 13:00, Ford Hall
The first in a global series of conversations invites writers, artists and thinkers to discuss the subjects and themes that are sometimes met with silence in societies around the world. This is the place to talk about how to communicate the difficult and the unsayable, whether through words or other forms of expression. Panelists include Chief Nyamweya and Keguro Macharia. Tell us on email or twitter what you’d like to discuss with the panel.



Saturday 21st, 15:00, Kanga Tent

Ng’endo Mukii, Tazim Elkington, Zukiswa Wanner, Renee Mboya
The film-maker of Yellow Fever, Ng’endo Mukii chats with Tazim Elkington, Zukiswa Wanner and Renee Mboya about the shades of discrimination arising from our convoluted ideas around beauty and skin colour.


Black Identity

Sunday 22nd, 11:00, Kanga Tent

Dr Neal Hall, Mongane Wally Serote and Binyavanga Wainaina
Mongane Wally Serote was arrested by the apartheid government and spent nine months in solitary confinement. His poems explore themes of political activism, the development of black identity, and violent images of revolt and resistance. Dr. Neal Hall’s award winning book Nigger For Life, reflects his painful discovery that in ‘unspoken America’, race is the one thing by which he is first judged, by which he is first measured and against which his life and accomplishments are measured. Binyavanga Wainaina is the founding editor of Kwani? literary journal. His no-holds-barred Granta essay How to write about Africa drew wide-spread international attention. His memoir One Day, I Will Write About This Place made Oprah Winfrey’s list. In a free ranging discussion, these three powerful writers explore black male identity.


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Call for Submissions | Nollywood Free Zine



This November Film Africa is planning a series of film screenings and events to celebrate 21 years of Nollywood. They are compiling a free ‘zine that shares stories about, and insights into, the last 21 years of Nigerian video film. They are looking especially for texts discussing Nollywood consumption and production in the UK.



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Call For Papers | International Society for the Oral Literatures of Africa


Theme: Oral Literature and Education

Deadline: October 15, 2013


The 10th Conference of the International Society for the Oral Literatures of Africa (ISOLA) will take place at University of Cocody, Abidjan, Ivory Coast  on June 11-15, 2014. ISOLA is committed to the promotion of excellence in scholarship. Proposed papers should have a clearly defined thesis, show familiarity with research trends, and address the conference theme, highlighting Africa and the African diaspora. The working languages of ISOLA are English and French.
Abstracts should be of no more than 500 words, in both languages, bearing the author’s name, institutional affiliation and a brief bio.

For more than a century already, a formal system, originating in a more script-oriented and supposedly universal tradition, meant to open the way to more transcultural values, has been superimposed on this “traditional” oral education. This evolution comes with a challenge: how is it possible to open up to the world without abandoning the specific values at base of the identity of these societies with an oral tradition? How can we preserve this cultural originality by avoiding excessive acculturation?
By examining the question of a fundamental need for balance, certain teachers came to the conclusion that various aspects of the oral tradition could be fruitfully imported into the school system. Consequently, many school handbooks made room for folktales, proverbs, epic or oral poems. In fact, in “modern” education in Africa, from the primary to the tertiary level, an opening was made for the inclusion of the oral literature.

Avenues of “popular” education, originating in the contemporary context, have also been added to the more formal sectors of education. This is a complex phenomenon, and might take the shape of public policy or of a religious institution or national or international NGO initiative. This “popular” education operates within the frameworks of sanitation, health (the fight against the HIV-AIDS, for example), civic education, etc. The various actors involved choose sometimes the recourse to oral literature for a greater impact of their educational message.
Education of members of a community occupies pride of place in the heritage of the societies with oral traditions. Beyond the youth, the education in question targets individuals throughout the course of their lives.

The primary framework is that of the so-called “traditional” operation of  societies. This first context has known various genres which served the purpose of the ethical (transmission of moral values and behaviours), artistic (oral arts training) and practical (suitable community activities and the assorted social behaviours) training of users. The majority of these genres, including the more playful ones, often fulfil an educational function as well. Some target the entire community (the case of the “knowledge” genres, including the proverb, proposing a body of general ethics), while others (marriage and agricultural songs, for example) address a specific group.

This conference proposes that we think about “Oral Literature and Education” following three broad thematic areas.

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Critical Articulations of Race to Class in Committed Cinema | Call For Submissions


The Society for Cinema and Media Studies announces its call for Papers, Panels, and Workshop Proposals for the 2014 conference.

This panel seeks to understand the critical articulation of “race” to “class” in committed cinema, whether documentary, experimental, avant-garde, or narrative fiction. Priority will be given to proposals focusing on films concerning the “Global South” or “Third World,” but attention to the “West,” “Global North,” or “First World” is also welcome. Proposals should indicate a strong foundation in film and/or cultural theory, attend critically to cinematic form and structure as well as to content, and be oriented intellectually toward a critique of political economy.

Proposal submission forms have been made available through the SCMS website. For tips on how the proposal system works, character limits within each form, and other useful information, read SCMS Proposal Tips first. The submission system pages contain detailed guidelines and instructions for how to compose and submit proposals, as well as a lengthy FAQ section which will hopefully answer any other questions you may have.

The deadline for proposals is Friday, 30 August 2013 (5:00 pm Central Time).

The accepted and declined notifications will be emailed in November. 

Conference Date: 19-23 March 2014

With many thanks to our friends over at ContemporaryAnd.

‘Half Of A Yellow Sun’ Trailer Finally Here

A new picture of the adaptation of Half of a Yellow Sun

‘Half Of A Yellow Sun’ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was adapted into a screenplay by playwright Biyi Bandele. This is his feature film directorial debut, with a cast that includes Thandie Newton, John Boyega, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Dominic Cooper, Anika Noni Rose, Joseph Mawle and Genevieve Nnaji.

Adichie is also the author of ‘Purple Hibiscus’, ‘Americanah’ and ‘The Thing Around Your Neck’.

View the wonderful trailer below:


Film Screening | ‘His To Keep’ by Amirah Tajdin


Kuona Trust Art Centre invites you for a copyright & publishing workshop followed by the screening of His to Keep, a short film written and directed by Amirah Tajdin (Walls of Leila, Downtown Tribes, Flourescent Sin) .
Cover charge for the film is Kshs 200

Date: May 26, 2013
Venue: Kuona Trust
Location: Likoni Close, off of Likoni Lane and Dennis Pritt Rd
Time: 2 – 5 pm
Entrance is free

The agenda will be as follows:
– Conventional and Self Publishing: the pros, the cons and how to decide
– Contracts: What you need to think about before you sign
– Self-publishing: What it is, how to do it and why it’s not for everyone
– E-publishing: Why and how you should break free of geographical borders

This will be an interactive discussion specifically for writers, publishers, and anyone interested in writing, publishing and e-books.



Mwangalio Tofauti

25061_large06-Parliament-Clock-Tower-copy Mwangalio Tofaut

This book represents a collection of works by an ensemble of Kenyan photographers who are currently working alongside the dominant Kenyan photography discourse which most commonly displays an inclination towards photojournalism, fashion or the work of development organisations. It is a display of part of what is happening within the independent photography scene in Nairobi.

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African Movies to Look out for in 2013

A new picture of the adaptation of Half of a Yellow Sun

The Guardian‘s Africa Network has collected a list of eight African movies to look forward to this year. From Nigeria they list Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun which was directed by Biyi Bandele, author of Burma Boy, and will star Thandie Newton and Chiwetel Ejiofor. Continue reading