Pilgrimages: Celebrating Africa’s World Cup.

Written by Kwani · June 16, 2010

For one month in 2010, nearly a billion eyes will follow the wayward movement of one small ball, bouncing about haphazardly on a lawn—controlled by the feet of 22 men speaking a language billions understand very well.

As all eyes turn toward South Africa and the 2010 World Cup, Chimurenga and the Chinua Achebe Center will send fourteen prominent writers, among them Chris Abani and Alain Mabanckou, on a guided pilgrimage to thirteen cities in Africa (and Salvador do Bahia). Their experiences will be published as travelogues and will also appear here on the Pilgrimages web site in the form of blogs.

If there is among Africans, ambivalence, confusion, uncertainty, even outright denial that we belong to a common entity—we will be, for this month, all united in wanting to win the World Cup, to celebrate our common hosting of the event. There is no visa requirement for football, no Berlin Conference stranglehold, no arms race, no communist and capitalist, no language barrier, no need for a colonizer’s language, no rich or poor, no election needed. What exists is a functional continental football system that offers us a platform to see each other as part of a common system with common rules.
The Chinua Achebe Center for African Writers and Artists has chosen to celebrate Africa’s first world cup by sending 14 African writers to 14 cities for two weeks during the World Cup. Each writer will produce a book of nonfiction prose, Travel Literature, of 30,000 words, for publication in Africa and abroad.

Using multiple forms of media, the writers will first blog their journeys and create momentum online and on mobile phones while the World Cup is taking place. A media website will be created, with local correspondents introducing their cities to fellow Africans online. The climax of this process will be the launch of this new collection of fourteen books in four African cities in January 2012, during the African Cup of Nations Tournament.

The collection will be the most significant single addition to the continent’s archive of literary knowledge since the African Writer’s Series founded in the 1960s.

At a moment in time when the whole continent is more visible to its inhabitants and to the rest of the world than at any other since independence, PILGRIMAGES will reintroduce Africans to the literary world in the same form that so many outside writers have employed to create a distorted idea of us to the world.

South African writer, Nicole Turner, will spend time in Nairobi’s affluent neighborhoods, getting to the bottom of the bubbly with the Ubabi’s (Barbies…) Kenya’s new black middle class. Touring in the ‘new money’ trail Nicole gets a glimpse of how the Stuyvesant’s came to influence politics in the West as she sits ring side whilst the Government and the Barbies untangle horns.

Her journalism writing has appeared in Adbusters, Y Magazine, SL, Geo, the Mail and Guardian, Business Day and the Sunday Times (Lifestyle). Her fiction has been translated into German, French and Chinese and has been published in English by Chimurenga Magazine where she is an occasional contributing editor. Now based in Cape Town she is working on a trilogy of crime novels.

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