Friday, April 26, 2013

Yari Yari Ntoaso: Continuing the Dialogue – An International Conference on Literature by Women of African Ancestry


The Organization of Women Writers of Africa (OWWA) and New York University (NYU), in collaboration with Ghana-based Mbaasem Foundation and the Spanish Fundación Mujeres por África (Women for Africa Foundation), will present Yari Yari Ntoaso: Continuing the Dialogue – An International Conference on Literature by Women of African Ancestry. This major conference will put writers, critics and readers from across Africa, the USA, Europe, and the Caribbean in dialogue with each other in Accra, Ghana, from May 16-19, 2013.

More than a dozen emerging and established Ghanaian writers and scholars, including Ama Ata Aidoo, Amma Darko, Ruby Goka, Mamle Kabu, Esi Sutherland-Addy and Margaret Busby will speak about their work on topics ranging from identity, to the craft of writing, to literary activism. These authors will be joined by other international writers such as: Angela Davis (USA), Tess Onwueme (Nigeria), Natalia Molebatsi (South Africa), Yolanda Arroyo Pizarro (Puerto Rico), Sapphire (USA), Veronique Tadjo (Côte d’Ivoire), Evelyne Trouillot (Haiti), and many others (a list of participants is below). Local organizations participating in this exciting gathering include the Pan-African Writers Association, the Ghana Association of Writers, and the Writers Project of Ghana.

Yari Yari Ntoaso will consist of panels, readings, performances, and workshops, and will be devoted to the study, evaluation, and celebration of the creativity and diversity of women writers of African descent. Yari means “the future” in the Kuranko language of Sierra LeoneNtoaso means “understanding” and “agreement” in the Akan language of Ghana. Fifteen years after OWWA’s first major conference, Yari Yari Ntoaso continues the dialogue of previous Yari Yari gatherings, connecting writers, scholars, and readers.

The conference program includes an entire panel devoted to Ghanaian literature, a Saturday morning “storytime” for children, and workshops for adult and youth. All events are free and open to the public, and all Ghanaians interested in literature – whether as readers or as writers, both youth and adults – are encouraged to attend. Register at http://owwainc.org/gettingthere.html. Most events will be held at the lovely facilities of the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons (No. 54 Independence Avenue, near the Ridge Roundabout) in Accra. A draft program is available in the “Gallery” section of www.indiegogo.com/owwa
  
Participants have received national and international awards from Ghana, Sierra Leone, Trinidad and Tobago, England; Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal, the USA, and other countries. They have been poet laureates and are provocative bloggers. They teach at – and have received degrees from – universities in Ghana and around the world; and they have also created and work with grassroots community organizations.

Why now?
So far, the 21st century has witnessed the creation or reestablishment of women’s and writers’ organizations throughout Africa and its diaspora. Often these organizations both support and are staffed by emerging writers or those whose writing has yet to receive international recognition. Yari Yari Ntoaso marks this moment and provides an opportunity for these organizations, as well as individual writers and scholars, to share information and to build international networks.

About The Organizers
Founded in 1991 by African-American poet, performing artist, and activist Jayne Cortez and Ghanaian writer and scholar Ama Ata Aidoo, the Organization of Women Writers of Africa, Inc. (OWWA) establishes connections between professional African women writers around the world. OWWA is a nonprofit literary organization concerned with the development and advancement of the literature of women writers from Africa and its Diaspora. OWWA is also a non-governmental organization associated with the United Nations Department of Public Information (UNDPI).

The Institute of African American Affairs (IAAA) at New York University was founded in 1969 to research, document, and celebrate the cultural and intellectual production of Africa and its diaspora in the Atlantic world and beyond. IAAA is committed to the study of Blacks in modernity through concentrations in Pan-Africanism and Black Urban Studies.

Mbaasem (“women’s words, women’s affairs” in Akan) is a foundation created by Ghanaian writer Ama Ata Aidoo to specifically support African women writers and their works through addressing problems that all Ghanaian and African – but especially women – writers have to struggle with, including the absence of appreciation of the essential role creative writing and other arts play in national development, and women writers’ diffidence in showcasing the results of their creative efforts.

The Fundación Mujeres por África is a private organization. It was founded with the intention of becoming an exemplary body in Spain and internationally with its commitment to sustainable economic and social development, human rights, peace, justice and dignity for people and especially for women and girls in Africa.

Jayne Cortez was the driving force behind the first two Yari Yari conferences. Yari Yari: Black Women Writers and the Future (1997) and Yari Yari Pamberi: Black Women Writers & Globalization (2004) were the largest events of their kind, putting hundreds of women writers and scholars of African descent in dialogue with thousands of people, and resulting in two award-winning documentaries.

In late December 2012, amidst organizing this third conference, Cortez passed away. The conference organizers are presenting Yari Yari Ntoaso in her honor. Described by The New York Times as “one of the central figures of the Black Arts Movement,” Cortez often performed with her band The Firespitters, was identified as a jazz poet, and was honored with the American Book Award and many other accolades.

CONTACTS:
Kinna Likimani, Mbaasem Foundation
klikimani@gmail.com
(233) 027 742 6045

Rosamond S. King, Organization of Women Writers of Africa
OWWAYariYari@gmail.com
718-219-3473

Jaïra PlacideNew York University
Institute of African American Affairs
jp2050@nyu.edu
212-998-2981

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