2021 WorldCon-DisConIII: PANEL TRANSCRIPT – The Nommo and Other Awards for African SFF

The Nommo and Other Awards for African SFF


Thursday 16th December

This panel will discuss the Nommo Award and other awards and contests that create visibility for speculative fiction writers on the African continent.


Mame Bougouma Diene; Dilman Dila; Stephen Embleton; Mazi Nwonwu


TRANSCRIPT:


DILMAN DILA: WELCOME TO THIS PANEL DISCUSSION ON THE NOMMO AWARDS AND OTHER AWARDS DEDICATED TO AFRICAN WRITING AND IN PARTICULAR, AFRICAN SPECULATIVE FICTION WRITING. MY NAME IS DILMAN DILA. I WILL BE THE MODERATOR FOR TONIGHT. IT’S MORNING IN OTHER PLACES, BUT I’LL BE THE MODERATOR THIS TIME ROUND. I MAYBE WILL START WITH A BRIEF BIO ABOUT MYSELF. MOSTLY I’M A WRITER AND I’M A FILMMAKER AND I’VE BEEN RECOGNIZED IN QUITE A FEW AWARDS. I DON’T THINK I’VE WON ANY LITERARY AWARD AS YET, BUT FROM WAY BACK, 2008 IS WHEN I GOT NOMINATED FOR SOME AWARD, IT WAS CALLED THE MILLION WRITER AWARDS AND UNTIL THIS YEAR WHEN I WAS SHORT-LISTED FOR THE BRITISH SCIENCE FICTION ASSOCIATION AWARDS. SO IN BRIEF, THAT IS ME. I’VE WON MOSTLY THE FILM-RELATED AWARDS, BUT NOT IN FICTION OR IN WRITING. I WILL PROBABLY LET THE OTHER PANELISTS INTRODUCE THEMSELVES BRIEFLY AND TELL US ABOUT THE KIND OF RECOGNITIONS THEY’VE GOT BEFORE WE KICK INTO THE DISCUSSION ABOUT THE AWARDS.


MAZI NWONWU: OKAY LET ME GO FIRST. MY NAME IS MAZI NWONWU. I WRITE SCIENCE FICTION FANTASY. I’M ALSO A JOURNALIST. I WORK WITH BBC LANGUAGE SERVICE IN NIGERIA. I’M ALSO THE COFOUNDER OF A SPECULATIVE FICTION MAGAZINE THAT IS DEDICATED TO WRITERS FROM AFRICA AND THE AFRICAN DIASPORA. I’VE BEEN NOMINATED FOR A COUPLE OF AWARDS, BUT AS OF YET, I’VE NOT WON ANY. I’M MORE PROUD TO SEE THAT I’VE PUBLISHED A BOOK AND A COUPLE OF OTHER PLATFORMS, I’VE HAD THE OPPORTUNITY. SO THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.


STEPHEN EMBLETON: OKAY I’LL GO NEXT. SO MY NAME IS STEPHEN EMBLETON. MY BACKGROUND, SIMILAR TO DILMAN, ALTHOUGH I HAVE GRAPHIC DESIGN. ALSO FILMMAKING BACKGROUND, MAINLY IN DOCUMENTARY AND SHORT-FORM DOCUMENTARY. ALSO, I’VE WON AWARDS IN THE DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKING SECTOR. BEEN ACTIVELY WRITING FICTION SINCE 2006, WHEN I STARTED MY SCIENCE FICTION NOVEL SOUL SEARCHING, WHICH IS ONE OF THE FINALISTS FOR THE NOMMO’S THIS EVENING. AND I’VE HAD TWO SHORT STORIES ALSO NOMINATED IN THE NOMMOS WHICH HAS BEEN GOOD, WE’LL GET TO THAT KIND OF DISCUSSION SHORTLY. AND SO ON THE NOVEL SIDE, MY SECOND NOVEL BONES AND RUINS WAS A FINALIST IN THE JAMES CURREY PRIZE IN THE MIDDLE OF THIS YEAR. AND THEN I WAS AWARDED THE JAMES CURREY FELLOW AT OXFORD WHICH BEGINS IN JANUARY. AND THE POINT OF THAT IS RELAUNCHING THE AFRICAN WRITERS SERIES, WHICH IS QUITE A LARGE THING TO UNDERTAKE, BUT VERY EXCITING AND YEAH. LOOKS TO BE QUITE FUN.


MAME BOUGOMA: I’M MAME BOUGOMA, I WRITE MOSTLY HORROR AND DARK FANTASY. I’M ALSO A COLUMNIST AT STRANGE HORIZONS AND VERY RECENTLY, FRANCOPHONE EDITOR, TRYING TO GIVE A BOOST THERE. SAME AS EVERYBODY HERE, I HAVEN’T WON AN AWARD YET. I WAS SHORTLISTED FOR THE NOMMO’S TWICE AND FOR BRIAN KEEN’S AND JAMES WHITE’S SPLATTER PUNK AWARD FOR EXTREME HORROR AND SPLATTER PUNK IN 2019 FOR MY COLLECTION, DARK MOON RISING ON A STARLESS NIGHT AND BEST NOVELA FOR FISTULAS. THAT’S ME IN SHORT.


DILMAN DILA: THANK YOU FOR ALL THAT. I WILL PROBABLY START WITH A QUESTION AND ALSO MAYBE AN ANECDOTE ABOUT THE PAST -- NOMINATED FOR. IT’S FOR FICTION THAT IS PUBLISHED ONLINE. SO THE FIRST QUESTION WILL BE AWARDS. ARE THEY REALLY WORTH IT? DO THEY DO ANYTHING TO BOOST A WRITER’S CAREER? ARE THEY REALLY JUST TO BOOST THE WRITER’S EGO? MY FIRST AWARD, LIKE 2008, AT THAT TIME, I HAD BEEN WRITING FOR A LONG TIME, AND THEN I WAS NOT NOTICING ANY HEADWAY. AT THAT TIME, AFRICA, YOU KNOW, THE PUBLISHING WAS STILL VERY TRADITIONAL AND P BY THAT I MEAN, THEY FOCUSED MORE ON STORIES THAT WERE NOT SPECULATIVE IN NATURE. AND I REMEMBER I WAS MOVING INTO FILMMAKING AT THAT POINT, AND I THINK AT THAT POINT I THOUGHT, I’M GOING TO STOP WRITING. SO FOR ABOUT ONE OR TWO YEARS, I WAS HEAVILY INVESTED IN FILMMAKING AND PRODUCING FILMS. I PRODUCED MY FIRST PROFESSIONAL FILM IN 2007. I THINK THE FILM IS SOMEWHERE ONLINE, ON YouTube. AND IT HAD A REALLY GREAT RECEPTION THAT I THOUGHT I WAS GOING TO BE A FILMMAKER FROM THAT POINT ON. BUT SURPRISINGLY IN 2008, I GOT AN E-MAIL TELLING ME I HAD BEEN NOMINATED FOR THE MILLION WRITERS AWARDS. I THINK IT’S AN AWARD FOR SHORT STORY WRITING THAT IS ONLINE, AND I THINK EDITORS KIND OF NOMINATE WHAT THEY THINK IS WORTH IT IN ONLINE WRITING OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT. AND I REMEMBER AT THAT POINT IT MADE ME THINK TWICE ABOUT THIS POSITION, NOT TO PURSUE WRITING ANYMORE, AND HERE I WAS NOW THINKING WOW, SOMEBODY ACTUALLY THINKS MY WRITING IS WORTH SOMETHING, AND I DIDN’T COMPLETELY GIVE UP ON WRITING AT THAT POINT. I KNOW IT’S REALLY A VERY SMALL AWARD AND PROBABLY NOBODY HAS EVER HEARD OF IT, BUT THERE’S JUST THAT THING THAT, YOU KNOW, I DON’T KNOW. JUST LIKE YOU BEING PUBLISHED FOR THE FIRST TIME, YOU KNOW. THE WAY YOU FEEL, YOU FIND YOUR NAME IN PRINT, YOU HOLD YOUR FIRST BOOK AND YOU FEEL HMM, I AM SOMEBODY, I’VE WRITTEN SOMETHING WORTH IT.


SO THAT IS REALLY THE QUESTION: WHAT DO AWARDS REALLY DO? DO THEY REALLY ADVANCE WRITERS’ CAREER OR ARE THEY JUST THERE TO SOOTHE THE EGOS? OF COURSE, WHEN WE TALK ABOUT THE BIG AWARDS LIKE HUGOS AND STUFF LIKE THAT, THEY DO HAVE AN IMPACT ON CAREER, BUT WE HAVE REALLY A PLETHORA OF AWARDS. EVERY OTHER MONTH I SEE SOMEBODY BEING NOMINATED FOR SOMETHING. ANYBODY WANTS TO GO FIRST WITH PERSPECTIVE ON THAT?


MAZI NWONWU: I THINK THERE ARE TWO KINDS OF WRITERS. THERE ARE WRITERS WHO WRITE TO WIN AWARDS AND THERE ARE WRITERS WHO FEEL I AM NOT GOING TO GO ALL-OUT TO GET THIS AWARD, BUT IF IT COMES, GOOD. SO I THINK FOR EVERY WRITER, EVERYBODY WANTS TO WRITE FOR AWARDS AND SAY OKAY, I GUESS IT COULD, EVERYBODY IS HAPPY TO WIN AN AWARD. EVERYBODY IS HAPPY. AND DO AWARDS MAKE WRITERS BETTER? I WOULDN’T SAY YES TO THAT, BUT I THINK IT GIVES WRITERS A GOOD FEELING THAT YEAH, MY WORK IS RECEIVED NICE. ESPECIALLY IF IT’S AN AWARD YOU GET, WHERE YOU DON’T HAVE TO CANVASS FOR VOTES. THOSE ONES, I DON’T THINK IT’S GOING TO MAKE ANYBODY FEEL LIKE -- MAYBE THEY COULD STILL FEEL LIKE YEAH, MY WORK IS GOOD FOR ME, BUT YES, I THINK AWARDS DO HELP THE WRITER IN TERMS OF WE TALK ABOUT THE EGO, BUT ALSO IN TERMS OF STABILITY, WHICH IS A VERY, VERY HUGE THING. BEFORE NOMMO AWARDS, IT WAS A STRUGGLE FOR WRITERS OF SPECULATIVE FICTION IN AFRICA TO GET RECOGNITION THAT THEY DESERVE OR THAT THEY DESIRE, BECAUSE THE MAINSTREAM AWARDS WEREN’T NECESSARILY PAYING MUCH ATTENTION TO SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY AND ALL OF THAT KIND OF GENRES. I SAY THIS ALL THE TIME. WE ARE SO KEEN ON FICTION, NO -- IT HAS CHANGED NOW. I MENTIONED A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO WE HAD A TIME WHEN -- (AUDIO MUFFLED, CUTTING IN AND OUT) -- SPECULATIVE FICTION, BUT THAT WAS -- THE NOMMO BEING INTERNATIONAL, BEING AFRICAN, IS A VERY, VERY GOOD PLATFORM FOR THE AFRICAN WRITER. EVERY WRITER I KNOW WHO HAS BEEN NOMINATED FOR THE NOMMO IS ACTUALLY DOING WAY BETTER THAN BEFORE THEY WERE NOMINATED. SAME, TOO, WITH THE KING PRIZE. IN NIGERIA, IT’S THE ALMIGHTY OF PRIZES. PEOPLE REGARD IT BIGGER THAN THE NIGERIAN LITERATURE NLNG PRIZE FOR LITERATURE THAT COMES WITH A PRIZE OF $100,000. PEOPLE STILL REGARD THE KING PRIZE, WHICH DOESN’T EVEN HAVE A PRIZE LIKE THAT, MORE THAN THAT, BECAUSE IT’S INTERNATIONAL, IT PUTS YOUR NAME OUT THERE IN WAYS THAT THE NLNG IS NOT GOING TO. SO I THINK THAT’S ONE KEY BENEFIT OF AWARDS. IT GETS YOUR NAME OUT THERE. MILLIONS OF PEOPLE WHO ARE WRITING FROM YOUR COUNTRY OR FROM YOUR CONTENT, YOUR NAME IS THE ONE THAT HAS BEEN MENTIONED THAT HAS WON THIS AWARD. PEOPLE KNOW TO LOOK FOR YOU. IT’S EASY TO FIND YOU, IT’S EASY TO REMEMBER YOUR NAME BECAUSE THEY CAN ATTACH THAT AWARD TO YOUR NAME. AND IT’S ALSO LIKE A SYMBOL OF, I USE THE WORD -- I’M LOOKING FOR THE RIGHT WORD TO USE, NOT A SYMBOL OF SUCCESS, BUT A SYMBOL OF TALENT. IF HE OR SHE COULD WIN THIS AWARD, IT MEANS THEY WERE WORTH AWARDING IT TO. THAT’S WHAT I THINK ABOUT AWARDS. THEY DO HAVE A USE.


DILMAN DILA: BEFORE YOU GO, MAYBE JUST YOUR PERSONAL THING. WHAT AWARDS HAVE YOU, AS A PERSON WON?


MAZI NWONWU: I’M ONE OF THOSE WHO DON’T GO OUT LOOKING FOR AWARDS. I’M KIND OF -- I’M KIND OF VERY, VERY UNSURE OF THE WORK I PUT OUT. AND I ALSO FEEL IF I STRUGGLED THIS HARD TO WRITE THIS STORY, I SHOULD NOT BE THE ONE ASKING FOR AWARDS FOR IT. IF IT GETS NOTICED, FINE. THAT’S MY OWN PERSONAL VIEW. I DON’T GO OUT LOOKING FOR AWARDS. I DON’T THINK I’VE EVER SAID I WANT THIS WORK TO BE FOR THIS AWARD, EXCEPT BY CHANCE SOMEBODY NOMINATED, AND I’M LIKE OKAY, LET’S SEE HOW IT DOES. SO THAT’S MY VIEW ABOUT AWARDS. I’M NOT CRAZY ABOUT IT, BUT I KNOW IT’S -- MAYBE PAUSE I’M ALSO -- WRITING IS NOT A MAJOR -- THAT’S JUST -- IT MAY BE IF LITERATURE WAS THE ONLY THING I DO, MAYBE I WOULD BE MORE FOCUSED ON GETTING AWARDS, I WOULD KNOW THAT IF I GET AN AWARD, I CAN GET AHEAD FASTER. SO THAT’S MY VIEW ON IT.


MAME BOUGOMA: UNLESS THERE’S SOMETHING YOU WANT TO SAY, DILMAN?


DILMAN DILA: GO AHEAD.


MAME BOUGOMA: THANKS FOR THE OPPORTUNITY AND THIS IS A REALLY TIMELY CONVERSATION. THE FUNNY THING FOR ME, JUST TO ANSWER THE QUESTION, DO AWARDS DO ANYTHING FOR YOU? I THINK THE BIGGEST SURPRISE WAS WHEN I WAS NOMINATED FOR THE SPLATTER PUNK IN 2019. I FOUND OUT ABOUT IT, I WAS IN THE CAFETERIA AT WORK GETTING SOME ICED TEA, AND THEN I FIND OUT ON TWITTER THROUGH THE EDITOR’S TWEET THAT I’M NOMINATED FOR THE SPLATTER PUNK. AND I HAD NO IDEA WHAT THE SPLATTER PUNK WAS, OR THAT I WAS EVEN CONSIDERED FOR A NOMINATION OR ANYTHING, AND I ALMOST DROPPED THE ICED TEA AND WENT STRAIGHT TO MY COMPUTER TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT IT, JUST BECAUSE THE SHOCK OF THE THING. AND ALSO BEING IT’S JUST SO OUT OF LEFT FIELD FROM WHAT I CONSIDERED MYSELF AS AN AUTHOR. I AGREE I READ A LOT OF HORROR, BUT I DIDN’T THINK I WOULD BE NOMINATED FOR ANYTHING CALLED SPLATTER PUNK IN MY LIFE. SO THAT WAS INTERESTING. AND THEN I FOUND OUT MORE ABOUT BRIAN, I KNEW WHO BRIAN KEEN WAS, I REALIZED HE WAS BEHIND IT, AND JAMES WHITE WHO IS ALSO EXCELLENT. THAT WAS REALLY INTERESTING TO SEE THAT MY WORK WAS GETTING SOME RECOGNITION OUTSIDE OF A BUBBLE OF AFRICAN LITERATURE. LIKE ALL OF A SUDDEN, IT WASN’T, YOU KNOW, OKAY SO AFRICAN AWARD, I’M NOT TRYING TO DENIGRATE THE AFRICAN AWARD BUT THE WAY AS AFRICAN AUTHORS WE ARE POSITIONED IN THIS LARGELY WESTERN SETTING OF PUBLISHING IS THAT WE’RE ALWAYS THE NEW THING OR UPCOMING THING. IT CREATES A BUBBLE. IT WAS INTERESTING TO SEE OUTSIDE THAT BUBBLE THAT THE WORK COULD GET RECOGNITION. AND THEN THE EFFECT WAS ACTUALLY IMMEDIATE. I WENT FROM, LIKE, $5 OF ROYALTIES TO $25. FINANCIALLY, IT’S NOTHING, BUT STATISTICALLY IT IS PRETTY SIGNIFICANT. SO THERE’S DEFINITELY SOMETHING THAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU GET YOUR NAME OUT THERE. BUT WHAT I DO THINK IS, YOU KNOW, IT’S REALLY A MATTER OF SPACE VERSUS JUST THE FACT OF AN AWARD IN AND OF ITSELF, LIKE YOU WERE SAYING AND LIKE MAZI WAS SAYING, YOU GET THE HUGO’S, THE NEBULAS. IF YOU’RE NOMINATED FOR ONE OF THOSE, YOU ARE GOING TO GET MORE RECOGNITION. NOW, WHEN YOU’RE NOMINATED FOR A NOMMO, YOU’RE STARTING TO GET THAT RECOGNITION, BUT THAT’S ALSO BECAUSE, YOU KNOW, THERE’S ALSO THE AFRICAN SPECULATIVE FICTION SOCIETY BEHIND IT THAT CONNECTS THE CONTINENTS TOGETHER. SOME OF US HAVE ACHIEVED ENOUGH SUCCESS THAT THERE’S ATTENTION DRAWN TO IT FROM SPACES THAT WE PROBABLY WOULDN’T GET ANY KIND OF PLAY OTHERWISE BECAUSE IT WOULD BE TOO SMALL OR THERE WOULDN’T BE A BIG NAME ATTACHED TO IT BECAUSE THERE’S A NUMBER OF OTHER AWARDS, OTHER CONTINENTS, I THINK SHORT STORY DAY STILL DELIVERS AN AWARD EVERY YEAR, AND THEY DO REALLY GREAT WORK. THEY DO REALLY GREAT WORK. THE STORIES ARE AMAZING, THE ANTHOLOGIES THEY PUT OUT ARE AMAZING. BUT, YOU KNOW, THE STEP MOVING TOPROMOTE THOSE SOCIETY IN THOSE SPACES, THAT’S WHAT MAKES A BIG DIFFERENCE, IN MY OPINION, AS TO HOW FAR YOU CAN GO. BUT IT IS AN INTERESTING TIME FOR AFRICANS AND AWARDS OUTSIDE OF THE SPECULATIVE FICTION AWARD. THE NOBEL PRIZE FOR LITERATURE -- AND I’M ACTUALLY READING THE BOOK RIGHT NOW AND IT HAS A LOT OF ELEMENTS OF MAGICAL REALISM TO IT, OF TRADITIONAL AND CREATIONAL MYTHS. SO YOU KNOW, MAYBE IT’S THE RIGHT TIME FOR THE NOMMO TO REALLY SHOWCASE WHAT’S GOING ON IN AFRICA. AND, YOU KNOW, I HOPE IT’S A BIT MORE THAN JUST THIS BUBBLE OF INTEREST AND 10 YEARS FROM NOW, WE’RE GOING TO GO BACK TO HEY, LOOK THERE’S AFRICAN SPECULATIVE FICTION OUT THERE BECAUSE WE’VE BEEN AROUND FOR A WHILE SO LET’S HOPE WHAT WE’RE ACHIEVING NOW AND BEST OF LUCK TO YOU, STEPHEN, TONIGHT, IS GOING TO MAKE A SIGNIFICANT AND LASTING DIFFERENCE TO THE SCENE.


STEPHEN EMBLETON: BEFORE I GET ONTO MY EXPERIENCE WITH WHAT AWARDS HAVE ACTUALLY DONE, THE FOUR OF US ARE ALL PART OF THE ORIGINAL AROUND ABOUT 58 CHARTER MEMBERS OF THE AFRICAN SPECULATIVE FICTION SOCIETY AND GETTING THAT WHOLE NOMMO AWARDS INITIATIVE GOING. SO WE ALL HAVE AN UNDERSTANDING OF HOW IT’S GROWN, WHERE IT STARTED. NOW, WE’RE SITTING AT -- WE WENT TO AKI FESTIVAL, WHO WERE KIND ENOUGH TO HOST US FOR THE LAST FEW YEARS, AND NOW, WE’RE SITTING AT WORLD CON. SO IT’S BEEN A ROAD. AS MAME SAID, WE FEEL LIKE WE’VE BEEN IN THIS BUBBLE AND AS FAR AS I’M CONCERNED, WE’VE HAD THIS BONFIRE GOING, WE’VE GOT THIS LIGHT GOING, AND NOW, THE WORLD IS REALLY ACTUALLY TAKING NOTICE OF WHAT’S COMING OUT OF THE CONTINENT. AND THE OTHER THING THAT MAZI MENTIONED WAS FROM A LITERARY POINT OF VIEW, SPECULATIVE AND FANTASY HAVE NEVER REALLY BEEN CONSIDERED PART OF THAT LITERARY COMMUNITY. AND WITH MY INVOLVEMENT WITH THE JAMES CURREY SOCIETY AND THE AFRICAN WRITERS SERIES, WHAT I’VE LOOKED AT QUITE EXTENSIVELY -- I MEAN, THERE’S LIKE 300 TITLES, BUT THE ONE THING THAT COMES OUT -- A COUPLE OF THINGS THAT COME OUT IS THE RANGE OF GENRES THAT ARE IN THOSE ORIGINAL LITERARY WORKS FROM THE 1960’s. THE MOST COMMON THINGS THAT ARE IN THERE ARE FANTASY, FOLKTALES, SPECULATIVE ELEMENTS, TRADITIONAL BELIEFS, ALL THAT KIND OF THINGS THAT WE ALL WRITE ABOUT AS A SPECULATIVE GENRE AND SO PART OF WHAT WE’RE DOING, ALL OF US, IS WRITING WHAT WE WANT, AND IT’S SLOWLY BECOMING MORE MAINSTREAM AND MAINSTREAM IN A GOOD WAY, MAINSTREAM IN THAT MORE PEOPLE ARE CONSIDERING IT TO BE LITERARY THAN BEFORE. SO THEN THE THINGS LIKE THE NOMMO’S FINALLY START TO GAIN TRACTION AS WE’VE BUILT UP THE MEMBERSHIP BASE, AS WE’VE BUILT UP THE CREDIBILITY OF THE WORK. SO WE ARE THE WRITERS WHO ARE ACTUALLY VOTING FOR THE WORK THAT GOES INTO THE NOMMO’S. SO IT’S THAT VOTE OF CONFIDENCE FROM OTHER WRITERS THAT PUTS YOU IN THAT RUNNING. SO THEN TO MY EXPERIENCE GETTING PUBLISHED OBVIOUSLY IS FANTASTIC AND MY FIRST WORKS THAT WERE PUBLISHED WERE ALL SHORT STORIES AND I CAME UP DOING THE SHORT STORY. AND JUST GETTING YOUR FIRST STORY PUBLISHED MEANS A HELL OF A LOT. AS DILMAN SAID, IT GIVES YOU THAT CONFIDENCE; IT MEANS THAT SOMEBODY ELSE OUT THERE, IT COULD BE ONE PERSON, HAS SAID THAT YOUR WORK IS WORTH PUTTING ONTO PAPER, BECAUSE WE KNOW ALL THAT’S INVOLVED IN PUBLISHING AND THE EFFORT THAT GOES INTO THAT. THE NEXT STEP WITH AN AWARD, GETTING JUST NOMINATED, HAS THAT SAME BOOST. FOR A LOT OF US, PARTICULARLY ON THE CONTINENT WHERE THERE’S NOT NECESSARILY A LOT OF PUBLISHERS AVAILABLE, IT JUST GIVES US THAT VOTE OF CONFIDENCE TO KEEP AT IT. EVEN IF YOU’RE GETTING A FEW CENTS A WORD, YOU’RE GOING TO DO IT AND MOST OF THE TIME, IT’S PART TIME. SO NOW, I’VE HAD TWO SHORT STORIES NOMINATED IN THE NOMMOS THAT DIDN’T BECOME FINALISTS OR ANYTHING LIKE THAT, BUT AGAIN, THAT FELT GOOD, GETTING RECOGNIZED BY YOUR PEERS. SO WHEN THE PUBLIC THEN COMES IN AND LOOKS AT WELL WHO ARE THE PEOPLE IN THE RUNNING? THERE’S ALL THESE PHASES THAT GETS BOOSTED ON SOCIAL MEDIA, THAT THE PUBLIC CAN COME IN AND SEE. WHO’S BEING PUT OUT THERE AS WRITERS OF NOTE? AND I MEAN, EVEN ONE STEP BACK IS THE PUBLISHED LIST -- HE LISTS EVERYTHING THAT HAS BEEN PUBLISHED BY AN AFRICAN WRITER AND PUBLISHER CHRONOLOGICALLY. THAT HAS THAT ABILITY FOR US TO GET SEEN. SO NOW WITH SOUL SEARCHING BEING A FINALIST TONIGHT, IT’S ONE OF THREE, THAT’S GETTING VISIBILITY. AND IT’S ALSO GETTING VISIBILITY FOR THE PUBLISHER. THE PUBLISHER HAS THE OPPORTUNITY TO BE SEEN AND GET THE WORKS FORWARD. AND THAT OBVIOUSLY IS THE ULTIMATE THING TO JUST KEEP THAT CIRCLE GOING, GETTING THE PUBLISHERS FUNDED AND, YOU KNOW, MAZI KNOWS IT’S ONE OF THE DIFFICULT THINGS, WHEN YOU AREN’T A PAID PUBLICATION, LET ALONE PUBLISHERS SELL WORKS. ING WORKS. THAT’S MY EXPERIENCE. AND WITH THE JAMES CURREY PRIZE, ALTHOUGH I DIDN’T WIN, I WAS IN THE TOP 10. THAT GAVE ME VISIBILITY. I WAS IN THE TOP FIVE, I DIDN’T WIN, BUT THEN I’M APPROACHED BY PUBLISHERS. SO THAT’S PART OF WHAT I UNDERSTOOD WAS GOING TO BE THE PROCESS. EVEN IF I WASN’T GOING TO WIN, I KNEW THAT THAT HAD ENOUGH VISIBILITY FOR THAT WORK, THAT UNPUBLISHED WORK, TO GET PUBLISHERS INTERESTED. AND THAT’S DONE THE JOB.


MAZI NWONWU: THANK YOU, STEPHEN. DILMAN, I WANT TO JUMP IN HERE BEFORE WE MOVE ON. THERE WAS SOMETHING THAT STEPHEN SAID THAT I FOUND VERY INTERESTING, AND I WANT TO TALK ABOUT THE HISTORY OF THE NOMMO’S, HOW IT STARTED. IN TERMS OF AWARDS IN THE CONTINENT OF AFRICA, I DON’T THINK WE HAVE ANY OTHER LITERARY AWARD THAT IS AS COMPREHENSIVE AS THE NOMMO’S. WE DON’T JUST GIVE AWARDS FOR THE BEST NOVEL, OR FOR THE BEST NOVELLA, THE BEST SHORT STORY, THE BEST ANIMATION. SO FOR ME, THE NOMMO’S OVER THE YEARS HAS BEEN LIKE A WAY OF WHO TO LOOK OUT FOR ACROSS THE GENRE IN AFRICA. WE ARE LOOKING FOR WHO ARE THE UPCOMING NAMES IN ANIMATION? YOU FIND PEOPLE WHOSE WORK HAS BEEN NOMINATED IN THE NOMMO’S. FOR COMICS, THE SAME THING. FOR GRAPHICS, THE SAME THING. THEN FOR PEOPLE WHO HAVE WRITTEN THE BEST NOVEL IN SPECULATIVE FICTION OVER THE LAST YEAR, YOU FIND IT. SAME THING WITH THE SHORT STORIES. SO I THINK IT’S SOMETHING THAT IS VERY, VERY IMPORTANT FOR PEOPLE TO TAKE NOTE OF AND TO UNDERSTAND THAT IT’S NOT A ONE COUNTRY THING; IT IS ACROSS THE WHOLE OF AFRICA. IT’S WIDELY PRESENTED. AND I DOUBT THAT IF SOMETHING WRITTEN BY AN AFRICAN SPECULATIVE IN NATURE WOULD NOT BE CAPTURED BY THE NOMMO’S, IF NOT BY THE AWARD PROPER, BUT AS PART OF THE PROCESS THAT STEPHEN MENTIONED, WHICH I THINK IS VERY COMPREHENSIVE. IT GOES AS FAR BACK TO THE EARLY 2000s TO PICK STORIES THAT ARE SPECULATIVE IN NATURE BY WRITARDS WRITERSIN AFRICA. I THINK IT’S VERY IMPORTANT TO PUT THAT OUT THERE. THANKS.


DILMAN DILA: OKAY. SO THE NOMMO’S. THE WAY IT IS MODELED OR THE WAY IT WORKS, IT’S BY NOMINATION. IT’S NOT A JUDGE-BASED AWARD, YEAH? BUT THERE IS ALWAYS -- I MIGHT BE MISTAKEN, BUT I THINK IT’S THE ONLY LITERARY PRIZE THAT DOES THIS IN THE CONTINENT. WE’VE HAD RECENTLY A SIMILAR AWARD IN UGANDA, BUT IT WAS MOSTLY FOR UGANDAN STUFF, AND IT WAS NOT SPECIFICALLY FOR LITERATURE, BUT EVERY KIND OF ART AND CULTURE. BUT WHAT THIS THING DOES, IT INVITED FANS TO NOMINATE AND TO VOTE FOR THEIR FAVORITE WORKS. AND, OF COURSE, THIS RUNS INTO THE QUESTION. SOMEBODY CAN VOTE FOR A WORK EVEN IF THEY HAVE NOT READ THE WORK. AND SO IF I FIND A WORK -- THE BEST CAMPAIGNER WINS, LIKE POLITICS. AND ON THE OTHER HAND, YOU HAVE THE JUDGES KIND OF THING WHERE IT’S ONLY TWO OR THREE PEOPLE READING A COLLECTION, YOU KNOW, LIKE ALL SUBMISSIONS. AND THEN, OF COURSE, IT MAY NOT BE WHAT PEOPLE ACTUALLY LIKE, BUT IT’S JUST BECAUSE MAYBE TWO OF THESE THREE JUDGES LIKE THE STORY. AND IT MAY BE AGAIN NOT HUNDREDS OR THOUSANDS OF READERS’ CHOICES. I DON’T KNOW WHAT YOUR OPINIONS ARE ON THIS KIND OF THING. VOTING-BASED PRIZES VERSUS JUDGE-BASED PRIZES?


MAME BOUGOMA: I’M GOING TO TRY TO START WITH THIS ONE. AND ALSO A REMINDER THAT THE NOMMO ACTUALLY GIVES A FINANCIAL PRIZE FOR THE WINNERS AND A LOT OF THE INTERNATIONAL AWARDS DO NOT DO THAT AND FOR A LOT OF PEOPLE, IT’S IMPORTANT TO GET THE TITLE, BUT IT’S ALSO IMPORTANT TO GET THE MONEY AND ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU’RE IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES, ESPECIALLY WHEN SOME OF THAT MONEY GOES TOWARDS SUPPORTING THE SMALL PRESS THAT YOU’RE RUNNING, IT REALLY MAKES A DIFFERENCE IN ADDITION TO THE VISIBILITY. LOOK, HONESTLY I’M KIND OF ON THE FENCE ABOUT WHAT IS THE BEST MODEL, WHETHER IT’S THROUGH VOTING OR WHETHER IT’S THROUGH JUDGING. WHAT I’VE SEEN WITH THE NOMMO OVER THE COURSE OF THE YEARS IS THAT THE DIVERSITY OF AUTHORS HAS BEEN, YOU KNOW -- DIVERSITY OF AUTHORS IN TERMS OF GENDER, THE COUNTRIES THAT THEY COME FROM, THE FACT THAT YOU DON’T ALWAYS FTE SAME ESTABLISHED GET THE SAME ESTABLISHED AUTHORS YEAR AFTER YEAR. A LOT OF UPCOMING PEOPLE RISE UP, OUT OF THE BLUE, THE NEXT THING YOU KNOW THEY’RE SHORT-LISTED FOR THE NOMMO. AT LEAST IN TERMS OF WITHIN THE SOCIETY, PEOPLE ARE SELECTING THEIR STORIES IS LESS OF A POPULARITY CONTEST A THAN AN HONEST APPRECIATION OF THE WORK. BUT IT WAS SOMETHING THAT WAS DISCUSSED EARLY ON AND THE REASON WHY WE DECIDED TO KEEP IT SMALL AND NOT OPEN IT LIKE THE LOCUS AWARDS TO EXTERNAL VOTING IS BECAUSE THEN IT DOES BECOME A POPULARITY CONTEST, THEN IT DOES TURN INTO, YOU KNOW, WHO SHOWCASES THEMSELVES THE BEST ON THE INTERNET AND ON TWITTER? AND IT MIGHT NOT EVEN BE LITERARY-RELATED. IT’S PERSONALITY, IT’S CHARM, ALL THOSE THINGS THAT CREATE THE INFLUENCERS OF TODAY. BUT, YOU KNOW, THERE ALSO IS SOMEWHAT OF A DRAWBACK TO HAVING A CLOSED CIRCUIT. IT’S JUST THAT YOU DON’T GET AS MUCH VISIBILITY; YOU DON’T DRAW IN AS MUCH ATTENTION AND, YOU KNOW, YOU KIND OF LIMIT YOURSELVES WHEN YOU COULD REACH OUT TO HAVE MORE DONORS. THEN IT BECOMES TRICKY AND THE WAY YOU BALANCE THINGS. I’M NOT EDUCATED ENOUGH ON THE TOPIC TO REALLY HAVE A DEFINITIVE OPINION. LIKE I SAID, I’M A BIT ON THE FENCE, BUT, YOU KNOW, THERE IS VALUE TO BOTH MODELS. THEN I THINK STEPHEN CAN PROBABLY SPEAK TO THAT A LITTLE BIT BETTER. WE HAD OUR OWN LITTLE SAD PUPPIES A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO WHERE PEOPLE WERE TRYING TO RIG NOMINATIONS. AND IT WAS CAUGHT EARLY ON. SO MAYBE THE ANSWER IS NOT SO MUCH IN THE MODEL BUT IN THE ATTENTION AND THE WORK YOU PUT INTO TRIAGE AND SELECTING EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS AND MAKING SURE YOUR PROCESS IS AS FAIR AS POSSIBLE.


STEPHEN EMBLETON: GOING ON FROM THAT, AS MOST PEOPLE KNOW, ONE OF THE INTERNATIONAL AWARDS HAD THAT SAD PUPPY SITUATION AND WE HAD SOMETHING SIMILAR, WHICH WE NIPPED IN THE BUD QUITE QUICKLY, AND WHAT THEN HAPPENED FROM THAT WAS THEN MORE CHECKS AND BALANCES WERE PUT IN PLACE. THE RULES WERE JUST REITERATED AND MADE A LOT MORE CLEAR IN TERMS OF WHAT YOU CAN AND CAN’T DO. AND THEN THERE HASN’T BEEN A PROBLEM EVER SINCE THEN. SO FROM MY OPINION AND NOT JUST BECAUSE OF THE INVOLVEMENT IN THE NOMMO’S ITSELF, IS THAT IT IS VOTING BY OUR FELLOW WRITERS AND CREATIVES. IT’S NOT AS PUBLIC, BUT I’VE WATCHED CHATTER ONLINE WHICH THE LONG LIST IS RELEASED, YOU KNOW, AND HOW PEOPLE REACT TO THAT. SO I THINK THE MORE THAT THE NAME RECOGNITION GETS OUT THERE, THE BETTER FOR THE VISIBILITY OF THAT. SO, YOU KNOW -- AND THEN THE LISTS THEMSELVES HAVE VALUE FOR EVERYBODY THAT’S INVOLVED, YOU KNOW. YOU GET TO THE SHORT LIST, AND NOW, YOU GET TO THE FINALS. SO THOSE ALL HAVE SIGNIFICANCE. I THINK THE ONE THING THAT WHENEVER WE’VE PUBLISHED ANY OF THOSE LONG LIST, SHORT LIST FINALISTS, IT IS THE DIVERSITY THAT HAS ALWAYS STOOD OUT AS NUMBER ONE. THERE’S NO -- YOU DON’T SEE A PATTERN TO ANYTHING. THAT ALSO GOES TO THE INCLUSION, THE INCLUSIVITY OF WHAT MAKES AN AFRICAN QUAL QUALIFIED FOR THE AFRICAN SPECULATIVE FICTION AND THE WORKS THEMSELVES. SO THAT THEN, IN THOSE LONG LISTS, YOU SEE A REAL RANGE OF PEOPLE, TALENT, STORIES, THEMES, ETC. I THINK IT’S REALLY SOMETHING THAT WE CAN AND HAVE ALWAYS BEEN PROUD OF.


MAZI NWONWU: I THINK FOR ME, THE QUESTION OF WHICH PARTICULAR MODEL WORKS BEST IS A DIFFICULT ONE, JUST LIKE MAME SAID. IT’S DIFFICULT BECAUSE AT THE END OF THE DAY, YOU GET THE SAME RESULT: SOMEBODY IS A WINNER, AND MOST PEOPLE DON’T GO QUESTIONING THE PROCESS. NOBODY ASKS, HOW DID THIS PERSON EMERGE? SO I THINK MODELS DIFFERENT AND WHATEVER MODEL SOMEONE CHOOSES TO USE, JUST TO BE SURE THAT THEY ARE TRUE TO THE TRUTHS, IF I CAN USE THAT WORD, AND MAKE SURE THAT WHOEVER COMES UP CAME OUT BECAUSE THERE WAS AN AUTHENTIC VOTE CAST OR AN AUTHENTIC JUDGMENT OF THE WORKS THAT WE ARE INSERTING INTO THE COMPETITION. SO OVER THE YEARS, I’VE SEEN INSTANCES WHERE LIKE MAME SAID, PEOPLE WIN AWARDS BECAUSE OF THEIR POPULARITY. IT DOESN’T SEEM TO HAPPEN SO MUCH IN LITERATURE BECAUSE GENERALLY, IT’S LIKE A CIRCLE OF PEOPLE WHO ARE WRITERS OR ENTHUSIASTS SO TO SAY, PEOPLE WHO TEND TO WANT TO READ THE WORK. SO YOUR WORK MUST SPEAK FOR ITSELF TO BE A WINNER. SO I DON’T THINK THE MODEL IS MUCH OF AN ISSUE, IF IF IT’S DONE THE RIGHT WAY. AND THEN KATIE HAS A QUESTION.


DILMAN DILA: DO YOU WANT TO ANSWER IT? THERE’S A QUESTION FROM SOMEWHERE. FROM THE AUDIENCE. WHAT CAN BE DONE TO ORGANICALLY PROMOTE THE WORK OF YOUNGER, NEUROANEWER AUTHORS OR AUTHORS FROM NON-ENGLISH-SPEAKING REGIONS? ANY THOUGHTS OR IDEAS OF STEPS TO TAKE? I THINK WE DID TACKLE THIS A BI BIT, BUT MAYBE STREAMLINE YOUR THOUGHTS ON WHAT IS BEING DONE WITHIN THE AFRICAN SPECULATIVE FICTION REALM, THE NOMMO AWARDS, WHAT IS BEING DONE TO INCLUDE NON-ENGLISH-SPEAKING REGIONS? BEFORE YOU GO, AND I THINK RECENTLY THERE WAS AN AWARD IN KENYA THAT WAS SPECIFICALLY FOR SWAHILI WORKS. I FORGET THE NAME OF THE AWARD, BUT IT WAS FOR SCIENCE FICTION WORKS WRITTEN IN SWAHILI. I HAVEN’T READ THE WORKS YET, BUT IT LOOKS LIKE A REALLY COOL CONCEPT BECAUSE THERE WERE AWARDS IN SCIENCE FICTION THAT ARE NOT IN ENGLISH, AND IT’S NORMALLY STRANGE TO THINK, GIVEN OUR COLONIAL HISTORIES, IT’S REALLY STRANGE TO THINK OF STORIES BEING WRITTEN IN LANGUAGES OTHER THAN EUROPEAN LANGUAGES, STORIES ABOUT TECHNOLOGY, ABOUT THE FUTURE. SO THAT’S ONE OF THOSE AWARDS THAT’S BEING DONE. BUT WHAT CAN WE SAY ABOUT THE NOMMO, THE AFRICAN SPECULATIVE FICTION, AND HOW THEY ARE DOING? WHAT’S BEING DONE TO DO THIS?


MAZI NWONWU: LET ME SAY SOMETHING ABOUT THAT. ONE OF THE KEY THINGS WE TRY TO DO IS LOOK FOR NEW VOICES. SO EVERY EDITION, WE ARE ACTIVELY LOOKING FOR PEOPLE WHO HAVE NEVER BEEN PUBLISHED FOR, PEOPLE WHO ARE JUST PUTTING OUT THEIR VERY FIRST WORK, AND BECAUSE WE HAVE THIS SYSTEM WHERE WE DO EDITS WITH THE WRITERS FOR THINGS SUBMITTED, IT TENDS TO ALLOW THE BEST THAT MOST OF THE WRITERS HAVE TO GET OUT THERE TO THE PUBLIC. AND WE’VE DISCOVERED A LOT OF YOUNG WRITERS WHO SOME OF THEM -- A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO ENDED UP WINNING THE NO NOMMO --


[INAUDIBLE]


SO WE’RE ALWAYS ACTIVELY LOOKING FOR YOUNG WRITERS, AND I THINK THAT WAS ONE OF THE BENEFITS OF THE AFRICAN SCIENCE FICTION AND SPECULATIVE SOCIETY, BECAUSE ONE THING THAT I KNOW OVER THE YEARS IS WHENEVER WE HAVE NEW WRI WRITERS -- (AUDIO MUFFLED) TO BECOME MEMBERS AND ALSO ENCOURAGE THESE WRITERS TO JOIN AND BECOME MEMBERS AND THEN -- BECAUSE SOME OF THEM DON’T EVEN KNOW SOMETHING LIKE THAT EXISTS. THEY JUST HEARD ABOUT THE AWARD AND -- AGAIN AT THE MOMENT, I WAS WORKING WITH MAME A COUPLE OF MONTHS AGO, A FRENCH VERSION -- EVERY EDITION, WE HAVE A COUPLE OF STORIES IN FRENCH BY WRITERS FROM FRANCOPHONE AFRICA OR THE DIASPORA AND SUBMIT AND PUBLISH THEM ALONG WITH OTHER STORIES IN ENGLISH. SO AFRICAN LANGUAGES, IT’S A LITTLE BIT MORE DIFFICULT BECAUSE THERE IS THE QUESTION OF TRANSLATION. SO ACROSS AFRICA, WHERE DO THEY SPEAK ENGLISH, FRENCH, PORTUGUESE, OTHER LANGUAGES THAT IF SOMEBODY IS GOING TO WRITE IN THEIR NATIVE LANGUAGE, YOU HAVE TO GET SOMEBODY WHO CAN SPEAK THEIR LANGUAGE TO TRANSLATE IT INTO ENGLISH AND MOST TIMES, WRITERS ARE NOT WILLING TO TRANSLATE THEIR WORK, . THAT I THINK IS A CHALLENGE FOR USING AFRICAN LANGUAGES. I’M PRETTY SURE AS TIME GOES ON, WE’LL GET TO THE LEVEL WHERE IT WON’T BE -- IT WOULDN’T BE A RARE THING. IT’S GOING TO BE MORE OF A NORM FOR EVERY EDITION, THEY’RE PROBABLY GOING TO HAVE ONE AFRICAN LANGUAGE, BUT THERE GOES THAT QUESTION, WHERE ARE THE READERS OF THESE STORIES? IS IT GOING TO BE ONLY LOCAL PEOPLE, BECAUSE THE TRANSLATION, IT’S EASY TO TRANSLATE FROM FRENCH TO ENGLISH, AND IT’S NOT THAT GOOD IF I WORK FOR A LANGUAGE SERVICE, IF I WRITE THEN WRITE SOMETHING IN IGBU, TO TRANSLATE IT IN ENGLISH, IT’S GETTING BETTER BUT THE TRANSLATION IS ALWAYS OFF. SO A LOT WILL BE LOST IN TRANSLATION. SO I THINK IN TIME, AS THE -- GET BETTER WITH THE LANGUAGES, FOR SURE. SO WE ARE DOING THINGS ABOUT YOUNG WRITERS. AND WE’RE ALSO DOING SOMETHING ABOUT PUBLISHING IN OTHER LANGUAGES.


DILMAN DILA: STEPHEN?


STEPHEN EMBLETON: SO TWO PARTS TO WHAT I WANT TO SAY. FIRST IS THE NOMMO’S AND THEN SECONDLY IS THE PUBLISHING. SO THE NOMMO’S IS REALLY RELIANT ON THE PUBLISHED WORKS AND THE WORKS THAT ARE BEING VOTED AND NOMINATED. SO WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE PUBLISHING SIDE AS MAZI JUST MENTIONED, GREAT WORK IN GETTING OTHER LANGUAGES OUT THERE AND WITH FRANCOPHONE STORIES. SO IT’S REALLY ABOUT -- IF THERE’S ANY PUBLICATIONS THAT PUBLISH IN AN AFRICAN LANGUAGE, THEN THE VOTERS CAN VOTE FOR THAT AND THAT WILL GO INTO THE NOMMO’S. SO IT FEEDS THROUGH. SO THERE’S NO EXCLUSION, IF YOU HAVE THE QUALIFYING CRITERIA, NUMBER OF VOTES TO NOMINATE AND GET SOMEBODY INTO THE FINALISTS LONG LIST. SO THEN FROM THE PUBLISHING SIDE, PARTICULARLY IN AFRICAN LANGUAGES MUNYAO KILOLO IS INVOLVED IN LAUNCHING THE ITUĨKA LITERARY PLATFORM, WHICH IS ALL ABOUT TRANSLATIONS OF AFRICAN WRITING AND PUBLISHING AND SUPPORT FOR THOSE WORKS GETTING OUT THERE. SO THERE’S A LOT OF WORK THAT’S BEING DONE IN THAT RESPECT THAT, YOU KNOW, WILL THEN HOPEFULLY, FEED THROUGH TO THE LIKES OF NOMMO’S, IF NOT MORE AND, YOU KNOW, PEOPLE IN THE DIASPORA AS FAR AS THE LANGUAGES OUT THERE. SO ALSO WITH THE RELAUNCH OF THE AFRICAN WRITER SERIES, WE ARE VERY FOCUSED ON GETTING THOSE WRITTEN AFRICAN LANGUAGE STORIES, NOT JUST ENGLISH. YES, THE MAJORITY WILL BE ENGLISH, THE MAJORITY WILL BE PUBLISHED IN ENGLISH BECAUSE THAT’S GOING OUT TO A WIDER AUDIENCE, BUT WE’RE GOING TO BE WORKING WITH TRANSLATORS TO GET ORIGINAL WORKS IN THOSE LANGUAGES TRANSLATED TO LOCAL LANGUAGES WHERE MAYBE THE WRITER RESIDES OR A PUBLISHER INTERESTED IN PUBLISHING IT IN THEIR REGION. SO ONCE YOU GET OVER THAT LANGUAGE HURDLE, THERE’S STILL A WAY TO GO, THEN, YOU KNOW, THE LIKES OF THE NOMMO’S WILL START FEATURING THOSE. AND IT’S ALSO, YOU KNOW, WE’VE GOT THE FOUR CATEGORIES AND THERE’S ALSO BEEN DISCUSSION IN BREAKING THOSE DOWN OR ADDING MORE CATEGORIES, BUT AT THE MOMENT IT’S REALLY ABOUT VOLUME AND THE ADMINISTRATION. SO WHEN WE THINK WE’RE GOING TO HAVE AN INTERMEDIATE BETWEEN A NOVEL, NOVELLA, NOVELETTE, AND WE’RE GETTING THE VOLUME, LET’S SPLIT IT OUT IF WE’VE GOT THE VOLUME COMING IN. SO THE SAME WITH THE LANGUAGE. IF WE CAN -- I MEAN, IT WOULD BE A FANTASTIC THING TO HAVE AFRICAN-LANGUAGE CATEGORY, WHATEVER THE CASE MAY BE. SO THOSE ARE THE TYPES OF THINGS THAT ALL OF US, WE SPEAK VARIOUS LANGUAGES. WE WANT TO GET THAT REPRESENTATION OUT THERE AND WE WANT THOSE WORKS WRITTEN IN THE LANGUAGE THAT YOU’RE USED TO WRITING IN.


DILMAN DILA: OKAY.


MAME BOUGOMA: I WOULD OFFER SOMETHING BASED ON MY CONNECTION, NOT TO LOOK AT THE GENERAL CHALLENGES AROUND STRENGTH OF PUBLISHING ON THE CONTINENT VERSUS HOW MUCH A COUNTRY HAS REAPPROPRIATED ITS NATIONAL LANGUAGE AS PART OF THEIR CORE CURRICULUM IN SCHOOL AND THEREFORE PROMOTING MORE WRITING AND MORE LITERACY AND FLUENCY IN AFRICAN LANGUAGES. WHAT I’M SEEING WITH FRENCH AND THE NOMMO AWARD, SOMETHING THAT WAS FLOATED AROUND, NOT JUST FOR ANY OTHER LANGUAGE THAT DOES NOT HAVE AS MUCH VOLUME AS ENGLISH BECAUSE THAT’S ALWAYS GOING TO SKEW THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE WHO ARE GOING TO READ IT BECAUSE EVEN PEOPLE IN FRANCOPHONE COUNTRIES ARE LEARNING ENGLISH NOW BECAUSE IT’S MUCH MORE USEFUL TO THEM WHEN THEY WANT TO TAKE SUPPORT CONSULTS. BUT WHAT WE WERE DOING WAS POTENTIALLY ONCE WE HAVE ENOUGH TEXT TO WORK ON, AS PART OF THE NOM AWARD AND MAYBE THIS ANSWERS PART OF YOUR QUESTION EARLIER, DILMAN, SINCE IT’S GOING TO BE TOO SMALL STATISTICALLY TO HAVE AN AWARD THROUGH VOTING, THEN WE COULD BE OPENING TO HAVE A PANEL OF JUDGES IN SAID LANGUAGE WHO WOULD REVIEW THE STORIES AVAILABLE AND COME UP WITH A WINNER, EITHER SHORT STORIES, NOVELS, NOVELLAS, NOVELETTES OR GRAPHIC NOVELS. PROBABLY A CONVERSATION FOR SUNDAY WHEN WE HAVE A MORE DETAILED DISCUSSION ON PUBLISHING ITSELF, BUT IT’S ALSO A MATTER OF WHERE IT IS WE’RE LOOKING AND WHAT KIND OF MARKETS WE’RE STEERING AT BECAUSE A LOT OF US WRITE IN ENGLISH, ALTHOUGH WE DO WRITE AFRICAN STORIES, WE’RE AIMING AT WESTERN MARKETS. AND SO THE VISIBILITY IS NOT NECESSARILY IN THE AFRICAN SPACE. WHEN I’M LOOKING AT THE FRANCOPHONES, SOME OF THE ONES THAT I’VE MET RAPIDLY IN DAKAR AND OTHER PLACES, THERE’S A LOT OF SELF-PUBLISHING, SO IT DOESN’T GET THAT KIND OF VISIBILITY. THEY HAVE PUBLISHING HOUSES THAT TEND TO BE MUCH MORE LIMITED IN TERMS OF MARKETING. SO THE AUTHORS HAVE TO SPEND THE REVENUE FROM THE BOOKS ON PROMOTING THEIR BOOKS, AND THEY ARE ACTUALLY TRYING TO WRITE TO A LOCAL AUDIENCE. AND I FIND THAT REALLY INTERESTING BECAUSE IT DOES CHANGE THE TYPE OF STORIES THAT WE’RE SEEING AND IT DOES CHANGE THE TYPE OF WRITING, EVEN IF IT’S IN FRENCH. THERE’S SOMETHING A LITTLE BIT DIFFERENT, A LITTLE BIT MORE COLORFUL, MORE LOCAL IN THE WAY THE STORIES ARE WRITTEN, THAN WHAT YOU EXPECT TO SEE PUBLISHED IN FRANCE, BELGIUM OR CANADA, BECAUSE EVEN THOUGH THEY’RE WRITING IN A COLONIAL LANGUAGE, THEY’RE STILL AIMING AT A CULTURALLY LOCAL AUDIENCE. SO IT’S A WORK IN PROGRESS. IT’S A WORK IN PROGRESS, BUT IT IS SOMETHING THAT WE DID CONSIDER AT THE NOMMO. AND I DO HOPE THAT WITHIN THE NEXT YEAR OR SO AS WE PROGRESS AND GENERATE ENOUGH MASS TO HAVE SOMETHING TO LAUNCH A NOMMO AWARD IN FRENCH, TOO, AND OTHER LANGUAGES, TOO. WHY NOT?


DILMAN DILA: I LOOK FORWARD TO THAT KIND OF FUTURE BECAUSE I WAS IN SOUTH AFRICA UP TO LAST WEEK AND I WAS AMAZED BY HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE WRITING IN XHOSA, I DON’T KNOW HOW TO PRONOUNCE THAT PROPERLY AND IN ZULU AND ALL THE LOCAL LANGUAGES. IT MADE ME FEEL PROUD THON LIKE LIKE UGANDA WHERE PEOPLE STILL WRITE IN ENGLISH, SOUTH AFRICANS, THEY KIND OF -- THERE’S A WHOLE PUBLISHING INDUSTRY IN ZULU AND ALL THESE. SO IT WOULD BE NICE TO HAVE CATEGORIES WITHIN THE NOMMO AWARDS FOR WORKS WRITTEN AND JUDGED IN THEIR LANGUAGE RATHER THAN TRANSLATED, BECAUSE AT SOME POINT, WE HAVE -- WE HAVE TO TRANSLATE BECAUSE NOT EVERYBODY WILL SPEAK THAT LANGUAGE, BUT IT WOULD BE NICE TO JUDGE A WORK FROM ITS ORIGINAL WRITING, RATHER THAN IN ITS TRANSLATED VERSION, WHICH IS WHAT I THINK OTHER AWARDS DO. YOU CAN SUBMIT TO THE PRIZES, BUT IT HAS TO BE

Popular posts from this blog

MBILO: A Winter Storm

Published Works

Our Looted Lives