The Washington Post

The Library of Congress starts series on African writers

A new series on modern African writers starts October 7 at the Library of Congress.

The idea began with discussions at the Library about collecting writers who had emerged in the post-Colonial decades. “We had been talking about creating an archives of African poets and writers, both in Africa and the diaspora. In addition to the known names, we also wanted the new writers, the new thinkers, the new generation,” said Mary Jane Deak, the chief of the library’s African and Middle Eastern Division.

That project expanded into a structured series, which begins with Ali Mazrui, the well-known scholar and writer. Most of the talks will be held at noon.

Mazrui was born in Kenya and has taught in Uganda and several U.S. universities. He will give an overview of the general topic of “Post-Independence African Literature.” He now teaches at Binghamton University, State University of New York.

Deak said Mazrui will “be addressing the larger question--can we speak of an African literature. How does that fit in with Africa today?” She said one goal of the series would be to answer questions about recurring themes and influences of other cultures. “Who are the young poets and who is shaping their thinking? is it the new media or the global music scene?” she asked.

The programs were coordinated with the library’s Poetry and Literature Center and the Africa Society of the National Summit on Africa.


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