Literary Column:Sixty years after the landmark Conference of African Writers of English Expression' held at Makerere University, Kampala

Jul 8, 2022, 11:58 AM | Article By: Dr. Cherno Omar Barry

Sixty years after the landmark Conference of African Writers of English Expression' held at Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda, the second Pan-African writers' meeting took place from 23rd t 25th June 2022 at the Conference Centre, the University of Ibadan. The organizers are the Pan African Writers Association (PAWA), Nigerian Academy of Letters (NAL) and Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA).

It is themed 'Literature Since Makerere 1962: The African Writers' Pan-African Agenda for Peace, Security and Cultural Development' and will feature writers, academics and diplomats from 40 African countries.

In a statement on behalf of the event's organisers, PAWA Secretary-General Dr. Wale Okediran explained that the conference, among other things, examined the progress of African literature since Makerere and forged a meaningful path for its future.

"The Conference also examined the role of African Writers in a Pan-African Agenda for Cultural Development, Peace, and Security against the backdrop of a continent gripped by insurrections, wars, and coups. The conference could not have occurred at a better time in a world plagued by wars, insecurity, human displacement, coups, and insurgency.

"The Conference was conducted in Arabic, English, French, Portuguese, and Swahili, which are the five working languages of PAWA, per Article 9 of PAWA's aims and objectives - to promote peace and understanding in Africa and the world through literature. The event resulted to the release of a communique and an action plan, designed to address the issues that were discussed, will follow suite. The PAWA members will distribute these documents to political, community, religious, and civil society leaders in their respective nations during advocacy visits, according to the statement.


Professor Bernth Lindfors, a renowned expert on African literature, and Ashraf Aboul-Yazid, an award-winning Egyptian journalist and poet, delivered keynote addresses and the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria delivered the launching statement. Other eminent academics and writers presented lead papers. These are Prof. Femi Osofisan of Nigeria, Prof. Virginia Phiri of Zimbabwe, and Prof. Sarah Agbor of Cameroon. Following their presentations, there were panel discussions, followed by other conference activities such as a welcome cocktail, book exhibition, excursion, a Festival of Life where authors read from their works, and an Awards/Dinner Night.

The first event by African Writers happened 60 years ago. Congress for Cultural Freedom and the Mbari Club, in conjunction with Makerere's Department of Extramural Studies, co-sponsored the June 1962 landmark event that the current event commemorates.

Wole Soyinka, John Pepper Clark, Obi Wali, Gabriel Okara, Christopher Okigbo, Bernard Fonlon, Frances Ademola, Cameron Duodu, Kofi Awoonor, Ezekiel Mphahlele, Bloke Modisane, Lewis Nkosi, Dennis Brutus, and Arthur Maimane were among the featured African authors. Ngugi wa Thiong'o (then known as James Ngugi), Robert Serumaga, Rajat Neogy (founder of Transition Magazine), Okot p'Bitek, Pio Zirimu (credited with coining the term "orature"), Grace Ogot, Rebecca Njau, David Rubadiri, Jonathan Kariara, and Langston Hughes were among the others.

Below is the communique of the conference:





The Conference and the General Assembly of the Pan African Writers Association (PAWA) took place at the Conference Centre of the University Of Ibadan, Nigeria, on June 24 and 25, 2022.

While the Conference on June 24 2022, under the Theme; LITERATURE SINCE MAKERERE 1962; The African Writers' Pan African Agenda For Peace, Security And Cultural Development, was held in collaboration with the Nigerian Academy Of Letters (NAL) and the Association Of Nigerian Authors (ANA) and was open to the public, the General Assembly on June 25, 2022, was restricted to PAWA delegates from National Writers Associations.

The General Assembly, which would be the first to take place in 28 years, was attended by National Writers Organizations from; Liberia, Togo, Congo, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Ghana, Gambia, Zambia, Niger, Mozambique, Equatorial Guinea, Namibia, Malawi, Egypt, Sudan, Mauritania, Cote D'Ivoire, Uganda, Gabon, Cameroun, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Chad, Benin, Guinea, Burundi and Mali.

Apologies were received from National Writers Organizations from; Somaliland, Djibouti, South Africa, Morocco, Burkina Faso, Botswana, Angola, Tunisia and Lesotho.

The General Assembly (GA) commenced with a symbolic one-minute silence in honour of the departed former PAWA Secretary General, Professor Atukwei Okai, for his meritorious achievement during his time in office.

Professor Okai had earlier been recommended for a Post Humous Noble Patron Of The Arts Award by the PAWA Council.

PAWA also conferred the Noble Patron of the Arts Award to 13 distinguished African Leaders, while 11 outstanding  Writers received the Esteemed Patron Of The Arts Award in appreciation of their support to PAWA.

During the GA, the interim Secretary General, Dr Wale Okediran, gave his report, followed by an audited Financial Report presented by the PAWA Accountant, Mr Louis Mensah.

After exhaustive and highly intellectual discussions at both the Conference and General Assembly, the following decisions were taken;

  1. Appreciation to the Government of Ghana for effectively hosting the PAWA Headquarters in Accra, Ghana, for the past 30 years.
  2. Appreciation to the Ford Foundation, MTN Nigeria, McArthur's Foundation, UBA Nigeria, the NAL, ANA and all those who made the Conference and General Assembly a success.
  3. PAWA remains committed to the following ideas and principles;
  4. The defence of freedom of expression for all Africans and the material and spiritual interests of African writers and their Associations
  5. Promotion of literacy and the eradication of illiteracy in Africa
  6. The encouragement of the inclusion of African literary works in the curriculum of educational institutions:
  7. Promotion of African languages and the translation of African literature into African languages
  8. The promotion of research into recording and retrieving of lost or undiscovered African heritage, whether on the Continent, in the diaspora or museums and libraries of the world
  9. The promotion of peace and understanding in Africa and the world through literature
  10. Inclusion of Literary activities for young writers in all PAWA's activities.
  11. The urgent need for Governments of African Countries to fulfil their financial obligations to PAWA enables the Association to actualize its mandate as laid down by its founding fathers.

The following Writers were elected as members of the PAWA Council for the next three years

  1. Hon John Rusimbi (Rwanda) President
  2. Dr Wale Okediran (Nigeria) Secretary General
  3. Mr Mustapha Hamadto (Sudan) Vice President (North Africa)
  4. Madam Imela Oyono Anyigono (Equitorial Guinea) Vice President (Central Africa)
  5. Prof Koumealo Anate (Togo) Vice President (West Africa)
  6. Prof Egara Kabaji (Kenya) Vice President (East Africa)
  7. Ms Monica Mpambawashie (Zimbabwe) Vice President (Southern Africa)



As part of strategies to strengthen the Association, the following members were appointed to the Constitutional Review Committee for six months.

  1. Mr Eric Joel Bekale (Gabon) Chairman              
  2. Mrs Hilda J Twongyeirwe (Uganda)
  3. Mr Baseim Abdelazeim Abdelkader (Egypt)
  4. Dr Cherno Omar Barry (The Gambia)
  5. Prof Egara Kabaji (Kenya)
  6. Mr Carlos Paradona (Mozambigue)


 Hon John Rusimbi (President)