Archive for September, 2014

North East Africa meets North East England

18th September 2014  |  News  |  Comments Off on North East Africa meets North East England

Two internationally acclaimed creative writers are collaborating on a homelessness project spanning the North East of England and Africa, at Northumbria University, Newcastle.
Laura Fish, an Orange Prize-listed author and Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at Northumbria, will work with Billy Kahora, a highly-respected film maker, prose fiction and script writer, on a range of public engagement, research and student activities this October.

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The six week programme – launched during Black History Month – will see the Kenyan-based writer deliver lectures and seminars to BA and MA Creative Writing students. Billy will give readings at Durham Book Festival and there will be a public screening of ‘Soul Boy’, an award winning film that was scripted by him. The film will be shown at Tyneside Cinema – the North East’s leading independent cinema – which Northumbria University is working in partnership with to improve education, support enterprise and entrepreneurship, increase research impact and secure investment. ‘Soul Boy’ will be followed by a Q&A session, led by Laura and Billy.
The research collaboration will include readings and workshops with young homeless people in Newcastle and Gateshead. The findings developed from these activities will generate material for short stories, which will be shared with communities in Newcastle, Gateshead and Kenya.
Themes of home, homelessness, place, and identity run throughout both writers’ creative output and this latest collaboration aims to broaden their research interests and share them with wider audiences.

Laura Fish said: “Billy and I met in 2010 on the Iowa International Writing Programme, USA. Billy is an eloquent and affective writer, deeply political. He deals with reality and his work is felt in the gut. While in the US, I was invited to lead a writing workshop for homeless people in Portland, Oregon. The workshops not only improved the participants’ social skills, increased confidence and motivation, they also increased literary skills.
“I am hoping this new project will reach out to homeless people and provide a forum that will encourage them to create of tell their own stories. The material written by those involved in the workshops can be edited together to produce short stories or longer passages, so that not just one voice will be heard, but many – to assist the homeless to speak for themselves, and to be heard. However hard it may be, it is important for us to listen to those who often go unheard.”
Ahead of October’s events, the two writers will come together in another literary platform. Billy Kahora is editor of Kwani? – a prominent Kenya-based literary journal that reaches a large African, American and European readership. This month the publication will feature Laura’s latest short story, Angry Black Birds, a fictional piece that explores the complexities of interracial relationships and loss.
Laura has more than ten years’ experience in broadcast television and radio. She is a prolific writer, her published work including two critically acclaimed novels, Flight of Black Swans and Strange Music.
Billy Kahora’s planned collaboration with Laura and Northumbria University’s creative writing programmes follows his recent nomination for the Caine Prize for African Writing – the most prestigious literary award in Africa. This is the second time that Billy, who entered his short story, The Gorilla’s Apprentice, has been listed for the prestigious prize. The winner of the £10,000 prize was announced in Oxford earlier this month.
Laura said: “I am delighted that Billy Kahora will come to Northumbria University as Visiting Writer. During his stay I am certain he will make a positive contribution to the University and a number of partner organisations in Newcastle.
“I thoroughly appreciate this opportunity to be able to further develop the collaborative research projects Billy and I have been engaged in.”
Northumbria University’s full-time Creative Writing MA programme is the first of its kind in the North East of England. It is a practical degree, designed for people who wish to become creative writers, as well as for those involved in teaching creative writing, or working in other areas of the writing industry.

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18th September 2014  |  News  |  Comments Off on LADYSMITH BLACK MAMBAZO in Inala – A Zulu Ballet

Wed 24 Sept: The celebrated South African LADYSMITH BLACK MAMBAZO in Inala – A Zulu Ballet, Sage Gateshead.


Ladysmith Black Mambazo is a male choral group from South Africa that sings in the vocal styles of isicathamiya and mbube. They rose to worldwide prominence as a result of singing with Paul Simon on his album, Graceland, and have won multiple awards, including four Grammy Awards. They were formed by Joseph Shabalala in 1960 and later became one of South Africa’s most prolific recording artists, with their releases receiving gold and platinum disc honours. The group has now become a mobile academy, teaching people about South Africa and its culture.

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More great African-Caribbean events in our region

18th September 2014  |  News  |  Comments Off on More great African-Caribbean events in our region

Waka Waka What’s On Sept-Nov 14

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Africa Festival in Sunderland this weekend

18th September 2014  |  News  |  Comments Off on Africa Festival in Sunderland this weekend

Fri 19 Sept and Sat 20 Sept: AFRICAN FESTIVAL Time in Sunderland.


It’s a case of “out of Africa” and “into the North East” this weekend as Sunderland embarks on a celebration of the continent, timed to coincide with the launch of the hit musical, The Lion King, which opens at Sunderland Empire this week. Two days packed with entertainment have been put together by Sunderland Experience It Here, the city’s Business Improvement District, in and around the Minster on High Street West. The festival will kick off at 6pm on Friday with a free performance by The Mighty Zulu Nation Warriors followed by a host of musical entertainment and Discovery Zoo activities for young people, bringing to life the various animals that live in the world’s rain forests.
On Saturday 20th a packed programme of entertainment will take place throughout the day including the Pearl of Africa Choir (at 11am), Pan African drummers, fashion shows, Dance Jam and a number of performances by the Zulu warriors.
Sunderland Football Club’s strong links with Africa will also be evident on the day, with a speed cage and African-inspired tricks and flicks sessions for young people to get involved with.
The Minster will also host drumming sessions on Saturday, open to anyone if booked in advance, followed by an opportunity to play African games.
Throughout the weekend there will be a number of stalls selling snacks, African jewellery and African soul food from Agnes Offiong and Heavenly Manna, while chefs for SAFC will be giving a range of cookery demonstrations of African style dishes.
Anyone wanting to book a place on the Discovery Zoo –Rainforest Workshops or the Hilaire Drumming Workshops can do so by emailing
Visitors to the festival could also win tickets to see Sunderland AFC by bringing unwanted adult boots in good condition to Sunderland Minister on the Saturday in support of Kenyan football team Sunderland SAFC Keroche

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