2018 writers' workshop - RWANDA

Twelve writers representing eight African countries convened at the Musanto Hotel in Gisenyi, Rwanda for thirteen days (19 March – 1 April) for the sixteenth Caine Prize writers’ workshop. At the workshop the writers wrote, read and discussed work in progress. The workshop was facilitated by award-winning author Damon Galgut (South Africa) and literary agent Elise Dillsworth (UK/Sierra Leone), and was coordinated by Vimbai Shire who travelled with the group.

This year’s participants included previously Caine Prize shortlisted writers Arinze Ifeakandu (Nigeria, 2017) and Bongani Kona (Zimbabwe/South Africa, 2016). They were joined by   Heran Abate (Ethiopia),  Paula Akugizibwe (Rwanda),  Dilman Dila (Uganda),  Lucky Grace Isingizwe (Rwanda),  Nsah Mala (Cameroon), Caroline Numuhire (Rwanda), Awuor Onyango (Kenya), Troy Onyango (Kenya), Eloghosa Osunde (Nigeria) and Bongani Sibanda (Zimbabwe).

Top row (L-R): Bongani Kona (Zimbabwe/South Africa), Paula Akugizibwe (Rwanda), Awuor Onyango (Kenya), Troy Onyango (Kenya), Lucky Grace Isingizwe (Rwanda), Vimbai Shire (workshop coordinator), Heran Abate (Ethiopia), Eloghosa Osunde (Nigeria), Damon Galgut (workshop facilitator) and Elise Dillsworth (workshop facilitator).

Bottom row (L-R): Bongani Sibanda (Zimbabwe), Caroline Numuhire (Rwanda), Nsah Mala (Cameroon), Arinze Ifeakandu (Nigeria) and Dilman Dila (Uganda).

The participants met in Kigali on the morning of 19th March 2018 and made their way by bus to Gisenyi, 95 miles northwest of Kigali to Gisenyi, located in Rwanda’s western province of Rubavu, the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. Musanto Hotel overlooked the stunning views of Lake Kivu and is home to abundant birdlife and wildflowers.

During the workshop, the writers wrote their short stories for the 2018 Caine Prize anthology, which will be published by New Internationalist in the UK and Interlink in the US. The anthology will be co-published with partners in sixteen African countries; ‘amaBooks (Zimbabwe), Gadsden Publishers (Zambia), FEMRITE (Uganda), Huza Press (Rwanda), Jacana Media (South Africa), Kwani? (Kenya), Mkuki na Nyota (Tanzania), Lantern Books (Nigeria), Sub-Saharan Publishers (Ghana) and Redsea Cultural Foundation (Somaliland, Somalia, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, South Sudan and UAE).

Midway through the workshop, the group took a guided excursion which included a tour of Gisenyi, a stop at the Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo border, a poignant visit to Gisenyi’s Genocide Memorial Park and a boat ride across Lake Kivu to see the area’s famous hot springs near two active volcanos: Nyiragongo and Nyamulagira.

The group visited students at the Teachers’ Training College (TTC) in Gisenyi. Two classes with students aged between sixteen and nineteen participated in workshops run by the writers, who taught the students about the rudiments of short-story writing and set them a fun flash-fiction short story challenge.

School visit to Teachers' Training College (TTC). Image credit: Dilman Dila

School visit to Teachers' Training College (TTC). Image credit: Dilman Dila

A public event, ‘The Caine Prize Writers’ Workshop 2018’ was held at Shokla, a beautiful space filled with books, a café and with views across the city of Kigali. Donnalee Donaldson moderated a lively discussion with the writers and the audience, which included readings from Arinze Ifeakandu, Bongani Kona and Paula Akugizibwe. Louise Umutoni, founder and director of Huza Press was in attendance to answer questions about writing and the literary scene in Rwanda.

2018 Caine Prize workshop participants Awuor ,   Bongani, Caroline and Troy posing with Louise Umutoni (founder of Huza Press). Image courtesy of Huza Press.

2018 Caine Prize workshop participants Awuor, Bongani, Caroline and Troy posing with Louise Umutoni (founder of Huza Press). Image courtesy of Huza Press.


2018 caine prize workshop group captured BY dilman dila