Transformative Testimonies: Online Events on Writing and Human Rights

By Wasafiri Editor on May 4, 2021 in

We’re excited to announce a new series of free digital events, Transformative Testimonies: Writing and Human Rights, taking place 17 – 23 May, 2021. All events are free to attend.

In December 2020, Wasafiri launched issue 104: Human Rights Cultures. This special issue explored writing in the wake of political crisis and opened up conversations and connections between literatures, writers, and creatives from four countries: Rwanda, Kenya, Colombia, and Argentina.

Transformative Testimonies will build on this special issue with a multi-country, multilingual, digital programme. It will unite writers from South America and East Africa in eight events that affirm the power of writing for those responding to, remembering, and healing from collective catastrophe.

Guest Editors of the Human Rights Cultures issue, Billy Kahora and Zoe Norridge, have worked with Wasafiri to curate the programme of events alongside such internationally renowned, award-winning writers as Scholastique Mukasonga, Inés Garland, Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor, and Selva Almada, and exciting new names including Leo Boix and Daniel Ferreira.

To celebrate, we’re offering a special Writing and Human Rights Bundle, which includes three past issues of Wasafiri and one anthology all focused on human rights writing, plus a Wasafiri tote bag, for £33.


Programme Highlights

Click here to view the full programme

Voices of Testimony
17-23 May | various times
Wasafiri‘s Editor and Publishing Director Malachi McIntosh will introduce the event: a collection of curated readings on remembrance, catharsis and renewal. Each work will be read in its original language by the author, subtitled in English, and videos will be released throughout the week.

More info |

Human Rights & Testimonio: Poems of Resistance and Rebellion with Leo Boix
Wednesday 19 May | 18:00-21:00 BST

What makes literature so necessary in times of flagrant human right violations, and how can poetry respond in their wake? In this workshop we will look at poets and writers who take as their subjects human rights abuses, injustices, and oppression, and at the form of testimonio as a means of defiance and rebellion.

More info |

Boundaries of Reality
Tuesday 18 May | 19:00-20:00 BST

Many modes of storytelling can be used to trace the story of a life. How do writers find the right shape for their story, and where does the boundary between truth and imagination lie? Novelist and journalist Selva Almada (Argentina), actor and filmmaker Ery Nzaramba (Rwanda), activist and documentary filmmaker Liliany Obando (Colombia) and poet and filmmaker Ngwatilo Mawiyoo (Kenya) discuss the many ways of writing a life.

Translation for this event is supported by UKRI Arts and Humanities Research Council.

More info |

The Future of Human Rights Writing
Sunday 23 May | 16:00-17:00 BST
To close the programme, Billy Kahora will facilitate a roundtable discussion between Louise Umutoni-Bower, Founder and Director of Rwanda’s Huza Press, and Carolina Orloff, the Director of UK-based Charco Press. This event will look ahead to the future of writing and human rights, and explore the importance of continuing to publish these works.

More info |

Attendees are invited to submit their questions to the participants of each talk through Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

Funded by British Council Literature’s Working Internationally grant programme. 

Supported by UKRI Arts and Humanities Research Council.