PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Chenjerai Hove, a fellow in Brown University’s International Writers Project and a leading figure of post-colonial Zimbabwean literature, will speak as part of Under the Tongue: A Festival of Literature from Africa, a conference sponsored by Brown’s Program in Literary Arts and the Watson Institute for International Studies.
The readings, discussions and other events at the conference, which runs April 15 and 16, 2008, are free and open to the public.
Hove’s novels, poetry, essays and newspaper columns have earned him numerous awards. Hove was forced from his homeland seven years ago by the government of President Robert Mugabe. He watches the current post-election upheaval not surrounded by friends and neighbors but through a computer screen a world away.
The Zimbabwe government first noticed Hove for his political writings, his novel Masimba Avanhu? (which translates to Is This the People’s Power?), and his play Sister Sing Again Someday, both of which address the situation of women in Zimbabwe. Hove’s home was burglarized and his unpublished writings were stolen, both by the police.
After constant surveillance and threats to his family, Hove left Zimbabwe in 2001. International writers refuge groups found him a temporary placement in France, then in Stavanger, Norway, before Brown brought him to Providence in 2007 for a year-long International Writers Project fellowship.
“Not only does the fellowship provide needed support and sanctuary to an individual writer, it also signals a commitment to the principle of freedom of expression and, through its associated cultural programs, seeks to heighten awareness of that principle’s vulnerability and the need for international solidarity in its protection,” Robert Coover, director of the International Writers Project, has said.
“When I take up my pen to write, I feel the strength of standing up and refusing to be silent,” Hove has said. “In an oppressive situation, silence is death.”
Hove and other African writers will share their stories at a forum titled: “Warning: Writing May Be Hazardous to Your Health: Present-Day Threats to Freedom of Expression.” The forum will be held April 15 at 3:30 p.m. in the Joukowsky Forum at the Watson Institute for International Studies, located at 111 Thayer St.
Other award-winning writers will be on the panel: Somalian novelist Nuruddin Farah, winner of the Neustadt International Prize for Literature; poet and novelist Jack Mapanje of Malawi; and playwright and 2005 International Writer’s Program fellow Pierre Mumbere Mujomba of Congo. Joanne Leedom-Ackerman of PEN International and Larry Siems, director of the Freedom to Write program at the PEN American Center, also will participate.
Additional readings and discussions and other events will take place April 15 and 16 featuring acclaimed African novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie of Nigeria and playwright Charles Mulekwa of Uganda.
The William H. Donner Foundation and the Department of Africana Studies and the Office of the President at Brown are funding “Under the Tongue.” See http://www.brown.edu/underthetongue for details.
Under the Tongue: A Festival of Literature from Africa
Tuesday, April 15
3 p.m., Joukowsky Forum, Watson Institute for International Studies, 111 Thayer St.
“Swimming in Troubled Waters”: a talk by Nuruddin Farah
3:30 p.m., Joukowsky Forum
“Warning: Writing May Be Hazardous to Your Health: Present-Day Threats to Freedom of Expression”: Panel including Nuruddin Farah, Chenjerai Hove, Joanne Leedom-Ackerman, Jack Mapanje, Pierre Mujomba, Larry Siems.
8 p.m., McCormack Family Theater, 70 Brown St.
“New Writing from Africa: Night I,” Readings by Chenjerai Hove and Jack Mapanje
Wednesday, April 16
11 a.m., Joukowsky Forum
“Under the Tongue and Onto the Page: A Conversation on New Literature from Africa”
Nathalie Etoke (Cameroon/visiting assistant professor of French studies, Brown University), Nuruddin Farah, Chenjerai Hove and Jack Mapanje. Moderated by Anthony Bogues, chair and professor of Africana studies, Brown University.
3 p.m., George Houston Bass Performing Arts Center, Churchill House, 155 Angell St.
Staged readings from new plays by Pierre Mujomba and Charles Mulekwa, with post-performance conversations with the authors.
8 p.m., McCormack Family Theater
“New Writing from Africa, Night II,” readings by Chimamanda Adichie and Nuruddin Farah
The International Writers Project
Brown University has a long history of providing support to international writers facing persecution and suppression of their work. The University has welcomed dozens of exiled writers at past festivals on campus, and has hosted fellows from Cuba, China, the Congo, Somalia and Iran. Brown is a member of the International Academy for Scholarship and the Arts, a consortium of 20 colleges and universities committed to providing support for writers facing political oppression. Through its faculty and alumni, Brown has links to Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and PEN.
Since 2003, the International Writers Project Fellowship at Brown University has provided institutional, artistic and social support to writers who face personal danger, oppression and/or threats to their livelihood in nations throughout the world. The fellowship, sponsored by a grant from the William H. Donner Foundation, is awarded annually to a writer who is unable to practice free expression in his or her homeland. In addition, the IWP sponsors festivals such as “Under the Tongue” that celebrate the cultural heritage of each fellow and seek to increase awareness of the situation of international writers worldwide and in the IWP fellow’s homeland.
For press credentials, interview requests, photo requests or more information, contact Elaine Beebe, Office of Media Relations, at (401) 863-2478 or Elaine_Beebe@brown.edu.