10 Days of Unravelling: What the Farafina Trust Workshop Taught Me – Ama Asantewa Diaka

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Ama Asantewa Diaka

When Ghana-based Nigerian singer, Villy, told me that taxi drivers in Ghana are ready to cheat you the minute they detect foreignness in your voice, I didn’t believe him. I remember telling him Ghanaians and Nigerians are siblings, and all he needs to do is speak pidgin. He laughed at my naivety and told me that the only reason they couldn’t cheat him was because he knew his way around.

I didn’t know my way around. I landed at Murtala Muhammed Airport in Lagos, my ignorance obvious.

A woman in a grey suit and flats rushed to help me with my luggage before asking if I needed a cab. I told her I needed to make a phone call first. She whipped out an old Nokia and I read Okey Adichie’s number for her off my phone. After a few seconds of talking to Okey she announced that we were going to Lekki.

“You get naira?”she asked as she wheeled my bag behind her.

That was when I made my first mistake: I replied in fine fine English instead of pidgin. My second mistake was not converting my cedis to naira before getting on the plane. The woman told me it would cost 200 cedis to take me to Lekki. I told her it was too expensive.

“You’re lucky o!” she said. “Some people, we charge them plenty dollars.”

I knew I was being cheated but I also knew there was nothing I could do about it. I had to get to Lekki.

The drive to Lekki took almost two hours. After getting lost twice, the cab driver, who kept calling me aunty and apologizing for his bad cough, finally found Lekki Waterside Hotel.

I was here.

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I had applied for the Farafina Trust workshop last year. I didn’t get in, but I got an email informing me that I had made the shortlist of 70 from which the final 25 were chosen, and encouraging me to keep writing. It was the kind of confidence boost that gave me the right to admit to myself that I was a writer.

And so this year, when I got the email saying that I had been selected as a participant, I let out a loud shriek and did a 10-second dance.

And so even though Arik Air had stressed me out, even though I was overcharged for the cab ride, I was here.

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On the first day of the workshop we met Chimamanda, and I watched her with quiet wonder. We took turns introducing ourselves and it was beautiful listening to everybody gush over her. When it was my turn I had few words, not because I wasn’t blown away by her presence, but because I wanted the taste of her influence to linger in my mouth longer.

The next 10 days were an unravelling.

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Farafina Trust 2016 workshop participants, with facilitators Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Eghosa Imasuen

You can often taste the sweetness of alasa right from the first suck. But until you have eaten out the flesh and chewed it into gum, you cannot truthfully judge how good the fruit is. This is what the people I met at the workshop were like. In the first few days, I knew I had met people I could call nice; but by the time we left the workshop, I had bonded with people I wouldn’t mind being stuck on an island with. (I refuse it IJN by the way. Already struggling with dumsor, I don’t need to be stuck on an island to test my level of madness.)

Sometimes you idolize someone from a distance, and then when you meet them their humanness further confirms their godliness – not the distant memory of a god kind of godliness, but the kind that sits in your head and feels familiar – the kind you discover in yourself. Chimamanda rolled her eyes, laughed the most, loved the hardest, offered herself as a safe space and taught us what she knew with all the badassness her being could contain. She recognized bullshit and called it as it was.

We had three facilitators in addition to Chimamanda – Aslak, Binyavanga and Eghosa. What struck me most about Aslak was the passion with which he spoke of words. His love for literature was so evident in his speech and his clear blue eyes that at the end of the class I was fired up to write something so good that it would elicit a similar emotion from others.

There was something about the way Binyavanga appraised your work that made you want to give your very best. He didn’t need to dissect a story before you knew it was flawed; he let you know if a piece of writing made him fall in love or if it bored him to death.

I hope every writer has someone like Eghosa in their life: to critique, to jest, to gently insult, to praise, to encourage and to let you know how silly you look using a font an editor can barely read.

Halfway through the workshop I was overwhelmed by all I was learning and I wished there were more workshops like that of Farafina Trust, in Ghana and in Africa as a whole.

The workshop taught me to go where it hurts, because it is only then that it matters. It taught me that as a writer my responsibility is first to the story; not to society, not to friends, not to family, but to the story.

It taught me that my normal is enough.

That writing makes me god.

That detail gives my text credibility.

That there are no rules if I can get away with it.

That you can find safe spaces in people.

And that there are stories everywhere, all you have to do is look closely.

 

Selected Participants: 2016 Farafina Trust Creative Writing Workshop

The following applicants have been selected to participate in the 2016 Farafina Trust Creative Writing Workshop:

1. Chisom Sunny-Eduputa
2. Akintunde Aiki
3. Pamela Naaki Tetteh
4. Ige Abimbola
5. Chinaza Attama
6. Miracle Adebayo
7. Lesley Agams
8. Ama Diaka
9. Munachim Amah
10. Osayuware Obaigbo
11. Grace Saleh
12. Fatima Mohammed
13. Olakunle Ologunro
14. Chioma Okolo
15. Tobore Ovuorie
16. Amy Woluchem
17. Aishat Abiri
18. Funmi Unuajefe
19. Ifeoluwa Nihinlola
20. Onwuasoanya Chika
21. Nnamdi Anyadu
22. Umar Turaki
23. Nneoma Ike-Njoku
24. Chinaza Ezeoke

The workshop will run from June 21 to July 1, at the end of which there will be a Literary Evening open to the public.

Congratulations to the selected participants!

2016 Farafina Trust Creative Writing Workshop

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Farafina Trust will be holding a creative writing workshop in Lagos, organized by award-winning writer and creative director of Farafina Trust, Chimamanda Adichie, from June 21 to July 1, 2016. The workshop is sponsored by Nigerian Breweries Plc. The Caine Prize-winning Kenyan writer, Binyavanga Wainaina, Aslak Sira Myhre and others will co-teach the workshop alongside Adichie.

The workshop will take the form of a class. Participants will be assigned a wide range of reading exercises, as well as daily writing exercises. The aim of the workshop is to improve the craft of writers and to encourage published and unpublished writers by bringing different perspective to the art of storytelling.

Participation is limited only to those who apply and are accepted.

To apply, send an e-mail to udonandu2016@gmail.com. Your e-mail subject should read ‘Workshop Application’. The body of the e-mail should contain the following:
1.Your Name
2. Your Address
3. A few sentences about yourself
4. A writing sample of between 200 and 800 words. The sample must be either fiction or non-fiction.

All material must be pasted or written in the body of the e-mail. Please DO NOT include any attachments in your e-mail. Applications with attachments will be automatically disqualified.

Deadline for submission is May 20, 2016. Only those accepted to the workshop will be notified by June 10, 2016. Accommodation in Lagos will be provided for all accepted applicants who are able to attend for the ten-day duration of the workshop. A literary evening of readings, open to the public, will be held at the end of the workshop on July 1, 2016.

Good luck!

 

2015 Farafina Trust Creative Writing Workshop

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Farafina Trust will be holding a creative writing workshop in Lagos, organized by award-winning writer and creative director of Farafina Trust, Chimamanda Adichie, from June 16 to June 26, 2015. The workshop is sponsored by Nigerian Breweries Plc. Guest writers who will co-teach the workshop alongside Adichie are the Caine Prize Winning Kenyan writer Binyavanga Wainaina, National Librarian of Norway Aslak Sira Myhre, and others.

The workshop will take the form of a class. Participants will be assigned a wide range of reading exercises, as well as daily writing exercises. The aim of the workshop is to improve the craft of Nigerian writers and to encourage published and unpublished writers by bringing different perspectives to the art of storytelling. Participation is limited only to those who apply and are accepted.

To apply, send an e-mail to Udonandu2015@gmail.com. Your e-mail subject should read ‘Workshop Application.’ The body of the e-mail should contain the following:

  1. Your name
  2. Your address
  3. A few sentences about yourself
  4. A writing sample of between 200 and 800 words. The sample must be either fiction or non-fiction.

All material must be pasted or written in the body of the e-mail. Please DO NOT include any attachments in your e-mail. Applications with attachments will be automatically disqualified.

Deadline for submissions is April 30, 2015. Only those accepted to the workshop will be notified by June 2, 2015. Accommodation in Lagos will be provided for all accepted applicants who are able to attend for the ten-day duration of the workshop. A literary evening of readings, open to the public, will be held at the end of the workshop.

The 2014 Farafina Trust Creative Writing Workshop

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Farafina Trust will be holding a creative writing workshop in Lagos, organised by award winning writer and creative director of Farafina Trust, Chimamanda Adichie, from August 12 to August 22 2014.

The workshop is sponsored by Nigerian Breweries Plc.

The Caine Prize winning Kenyan writer Binyavanga Wainaina, Aslak Sira Myhre and others will co-teach the workshop alongside Adichie. The workshop will take the form of a class. Participants will be assigned a wide range of reading exercises, as well as daily writing exercises. The aim of the workshop is to improve the craft of writers and to encourage published and unpublished writers by bringing different perspectives to the art of storytelling.

Participation is limited only to those who apply and are accepted. All material must be pasted or written in the body of the e-mail. Please, Do NOT include any attachments in your e-mail. Applications with attachments will be automatically disqualified.

Deadline for submission is JUNE 30 2014. Only those accepted to the workshop will be notified by JULY 22 2014. Accommodation in Lagos will be provided for all accepted applicants who are able to attend for the ten-day duration of the workshop. A literary evening of readings, open to the public, will be held at the end of the workshop on August 22 2014.

To apply, send an e-mail to udonandu2014@gmail.com

Your e-mail subject should read ‘Workshop Application

The body of the e-mail should contain the following:
1.Your Name
2.Your Address
3.A few sentences about yourself
4.A writing sample of between 200 and 800 words. The sample may be either fiction or non-fiction.

 

Update. This post has been edited to correct the change in dates for the workshop. Originally slated to start on August the 5, they have been moved by circumstances beyond the organiser’s control to August the 12th 2014. Accordingly, the Literary Evening will hold on the 22nd of August 2014.

2013 Farafina Trust Creative Writing Workshop

Farafina Trust will be holding a creative writing workshop in Lagos, organized by award winning writer and creative director of Farafina Trust, Chimamanda Adichie, from August 6 to August 16 2013. The workshop is sponsored by Nigerian Breweries Plc.
The Caine Prize winning Kenyan writer, Binyavanga Wainaina, and others will co-teach the workshop alongside Adichie. The workshop will take the form of a class. Participants will be assigned a wide range of reading exercises, as well as daily writing exercises.

The aim of the workshop is to improve the craft of writers and to encourage published and unpublished writers by bringing different perspective to the art of storytelling. Participation is limited only to those who apply and are accepted.

All material must be pasted or written in the body of the e-mail. Please Do NOT include any attachments in your e-mail. Applications with attachments will be automatically disqualified.

Deadline for submission is JUNE 12, 2013. Only those accepted to the workshop will be notified by JULY 22, 2013.

Accommodation in Lagos will be provided for all accepted applicants who are able to attend for the ten-day duration of the workshop.

A literary evening of readings, open to the public, will be held at the end of the workshop on August 16, 2013.

To apply, send an e-mail to udonandu2013@gmail.com
Your e-mail subject should read ‘Workshop Application’

The body of the e-mail should contain the following:
1. Your Name
2. Your Address
3. A few sentences about yourself
4. A writing sample of between 200 and 800 words.

The sample must be either fiction or non-fiction

Invitation to Farafina Trust Literary Evening

To mark the end of the 2012 Farafina Trust Creative Writing Workshop, Farafina Trust will be holding a literary evening, which is open to the public.

As always, the literary evening presents an opportunity for writers, literary enthusiasts and lovers of the arts to mingle and interact. This year’s event will feature legendary singer, Onyeka Onwenu, and writers Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Binyavanga Wainaina, Rob Spillman, Jeff Allen, and a host of others.

Date: Friday, 24th August 2012
Time: 5 p.m.
Venue: The Grand Ballroom, Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos

Everyone is invited, so please bring a friend. Your favourite Farafina titles will be available for sale.

See you there!