PREVIOUSLY held at the University of Nairobi in 2013, the second Eastern African Literary and Cultural Studies Conference will on Thursday kick off at Makerere University Main Hall
By Gloria Nakajubi
PREVIOUSLY held at the University of Nairobi in 2013, the second Eastern African Literary and Cultural Studies Conference will on Thursday kick off at Makerere University Main Hall in Kampala.
Bringing together literary and other cultural studies researchers, scholars and cultural producers, the conference is intended to generate debate around the East African region on such issues as nationalism, trans-nationalism, regionalism, trans-culturalism, globalism and other cultural processes evolving in the region.
According to Dr James Ocita, a lecturer at Makerere University’s Literature department and a member of the organizing committee, the objective of such discourse is to steer debate on cultural issues that are specific to the region but also by the people from the region.
He said such debate has been going on but not directed by those that experience these different dynamics and therefore hosting it in the region guides the conversation to focus on the real issues.
With at least 120 participants expected from 15 countries across the different continents, the debate as revealed by the organizers is expected to yield fundamental ideas for not only Uganda but the region.
An amalgam of writers and critics from the region and beyond, the conference as Ocita explained is key to grooming but also a platform for local voices who are well versed with regional issues.
“Your location shapes your perception. This is therefore intended to grow the local creative and critic field and eventually shape debate around Eastern African issues,” he said.
The conference is also intended to draw a link between literary and other artistic works in tackling the tensions and crises that have dogged the greater Eastern African region in the last decades especially Somali land, Ethiopia, Eritrea and South Sudan.
As Onen explained, the first major international conference for writers and critics of African literature on the continent was also held at Makerere University in June 1962 coinciding with the independence of most African countries. But since then no major dialogue has taken place, a trend that has affected the level of debate from within.
Makerere University boasts of an enviable literary heritage with great writers such as Okot P’ Bitek, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, David Rubadiri, Robert Sserumaga, Elvania Zirimu, Taban Lo Liyong, Timothy Wangusa, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, H.E Benjamin Mkapa among others traced to its name.
The three day conference will have presentations from literary experts from universities and institutions across the continent punctuated by screening and reviews of different African literary works.
Makerere hosts regional literary dialogue