by: Gina Athena Ulysse on March 12th, 2013 |
|Members of the Organization of |
Women Writers of Africa Inc's Board of Directors. Credit: OWWA.
As stated on their website, OWWA is a nonprofit literary organization concerned with the development and advancement of literature of women writers from Africa and its Diaspora. It is associated with the United Nations Department of Public Information In 1991, the legendary activist-poet Jayne Cortez together with Ghanaian writer Ama Ata Aidoo founded OWWA. The Founding Board members of the organization are: J.e Franklin, Cheryll Y. Greene, Rashidah Ismaili, Renee Larrier and Louise Meriwether.
OWWA's late co-founder and president Jayne Cortez. Credit: OWWA.
Since their inception, OWWA’s emphasis has been on creating opportunities for exploration and exchange. They promulgated the conversation, over fifteen years ago with “Yari Yari: Black Women Writers and the Future” in 1997 and “Yari Yari Pamberi: Black Women Writers dissecting Globalization” in 2004. These conferences were held in the U.S. at NYU co-sponsored in part by the Institute of African-American Affairs. Yari Yari events have all been documented and are available for viewing in their archives at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York City.
Previous attendees often describe Yari Yari as empowering and welcoming. Cornell University Professor Carole Boyce Davies (Trinidad/U.S) who participated in both states, “Yari Yari provides affirmative space always for black women writers worldwide to show again that we speak, think, write, theorize, imagine, create. From the start this has always been a space for creative encounters with writers from all corners of the Black World.” Susquehanna University Assistant Professor Angelique V Nixon (Bahamas/US) recalls her first symposium, “I went to the Yari Yari conference in New York in 2004 – and it was a life changing experience. It was incredibly affirming and supportive to my writing/poet self in ways that I had never experienced before. And I am forever blessed and grateful for that beautiful experience. This is why I’m so honored to be included as an invited writer this year!”
The dialogue slated to continue in Accra this spring will congregate an international group of writers of multiple genres (ranging from children’s literature, fiction to playwright), scholars, organizers, publishers and visual artists from the African diaspora to share their various work. Contributors are bloggers, editors, filmmakers, journalists, novelists, poets, performers and academics in the humanities, self-proclaimed feminists and womanists alike from Africa, the Caribbean, North America and the U.K. including but not limited to: Ama Aita Aidoo (Ghana); Yolanda Arroyo-Pizzaro (Puerto Rico); Sokhna Benga (Senegal); Tara Betts (U.S.); Gabrielle Civil (Haiti/U.S.); Angela Davis (US); Alison Duke (Canada); Philo Ikonya (Kenya); Kadija George Sessay (U.K./Sierra Leone); Jason King (U.S.); Kinna Likimani (Ghana); Natalia Molebatsi (South Africa); Virginia Phiri (Zimbabwe); Tess Onwueme (Nigeria); Sapphire (U.S.); Veronique Tadjo (Cote d’Ivoire/South Africa) among others. For a draft of the program and list of participants, see here.