Emtithal ‘Emi’ Mahmoud is a Sudanese poet and an activist who won the 2015 Individual World Poetry Slam championship. In 2018, she became an UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador. Mahmoud was born in Darfur, Sudan and moved with her family to Yemen when she was a toddler.
Mahmoud first encountered spoken word poetry as an undergraduate at Yale University. She joined ¡Oyé!, a spoken-word group affiliated with the Latino Cultural Center on campus, then the Yale Slam Team. Mahmoud was chosen as one of the BBC’s 100 Most Inspirational Women in 2015, and wrote the poem ‘The Things She Told Me’ to mark the honour. She published her debut poetry collection, ‘Sister’s Entrance’, in 2018.
George Lilanga was born in southern Tanzania in around 1934 into the Makonde tribe, a indigenous group renowned for their rich sculptural traditions and ritual dances. He began his career as a carver and sculptor, and hosted his first international exhibition in 1978 to much critical acclaim. His paintings draw on his Makonde heritage, showcasing the culture and mythology of his tribe, and also serve as a social critique on contemporary African culture. All his works are whimsical and underscored with a sense of humour, and include vibrant colours and mythical figures. Lilanga’s art has found its way into private collections and exhibitions all around the world.
Ladan Osman was born in Somalia. She earned a BA at Otterbein College and an MFA at the University of Texas at Austin’s Michener Center for Writers. Her chapbook, Ordinary Heaven, appears in Seven New Generation African Poets (Slapering Hol Press, 2014). Her full-length collection The Kitchen-Dweller’s Testimony (University of Nebraska Press, 2015) won the Sillerman First Book Prize. Her work has appeared in Apogee, The Normal School, Prairie Schooner, Transition Magazine, and Waxwing.
Osman has received fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center, Cave Canem, and the Michener Center. She is a contributing editor at The Offing and lives in Chicago.
Liyou Libsekal is an Ethiopian poet living in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She grew up travelling and living mainly in East Africa. Her poems were featured in the 2015 African Poetry Book Fund's New Generation African Poets series. In 2014, Libsekal was the winner of the Brunel University African Poetry Prize.
Libsekal briefly moved to the United States, where she obtained a BA in Anthropology from George Washington University in 2012. Her poetry explores themes of home, identity and displacement. Her work has been included in Missing Slate Magazine, Badilisha Poetry and Cordite Poetry Review.
Ngwatilo Mawiyoo is a Kenyan Poet and editor. She has a BA in Music from St Lawrence University, and her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia. In her previous life, Ngwatilo was as an actress for theater, TV and film and she credits this background for her distinctive spoken word/performance poetry style, though she's the happiest creating work for the page.
A Callaloo Fellow, and twice shortlisted for the Brunel University African Poetry Prize, Ngwatilo has been a Bundanon Trust Residency recipient through The Africa Centre. She is currently at work on her full-length manuscript in poetry, Witness & Dream. The collection explores the lived experience of the diverse rural Kenyan communities with whom she lived between 2012 and 2013. Ngwatilo's poems have appeared in Transition, Poetry is Dead, Obsidian, Kwani?, and One Throne Magazine among other journals. She works for a digital lifestyle magazine in Nairobi, following a period of time in advertising.
Hope Wabuke is a Ugandan American poet, essayist and writer. She is the author of the chapbooks Her, The Leaving, and Movement No.1: Trains, a contributing editor for The Root, and has published widely in various magazines, among them The Guardian, The Sun, Creative Nonfiction Magazine, The Daily Beast and many more elsewhere.
Hope has received fellowships and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Book Critics Circle, The New York Times Foundation, the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund for Women Writers, the Awesome Foundation, Yale University’s THREAD Writer’s Program, and the Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation (VONA). She has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Best New Poets, and Best of the Net Awards, and was a finalist for the 2017 International Poetry Award.
Loyce Gayo is a Tanzanian-born creative, activist and teaching artist. Her work is influenced by her experience in the African Diaspora and celebrates the journey of a people dispersed. Gayo was the slam champion of the UT Spitshine poetry slam team, which won the 2014 College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational (CUPSI). Her poems have been featured by Button Poetry, Write About Now, Badilisha Poetry, Fields Magazine and PBS. She teaches for Writers in the Schools and founded Paza Sauti, a creative writing and performance initiative for East African youths.
MAAZA MENGISTEWRITER /AUTHOR
Maaza Mengiste is an Ethiopian-American writer and author of the 2010 novel ‘Beneath the Lion's Gaze’. Mengiste was born in 1974 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, but left at the age of four when her family fled the Ethiopian Revolution. She spent the rest of her childhood in Nigeria, Kenya, and the United States. She later studied in Italy as a Fulbright Scholar and earned an MFA degree in creative writing from New York University. Her debut novel ‘Beneath the Lion's Gaze’ was named one of the 10 best contemporary African books by The Guardian. Mengiste’s upcoming novel, ‘The Shadow King’, is set to release this upcoming autumn.
Jamila Osman is a writer and educator living in Portland, Oregon. Her work spans a broad range of issues, ranging from the tension between place and identity, to immigration and border justice, to education and race. Her essays and poems have appeared in numerous literary and news publications, including Al Jazeera, Boaat Press, Catapult and Teen Vogue. She has received fellowships and residencies from Caldera, Djerassi, the Macdowell Colony and other places.
More recently, Osman was shortlisted for the 2019 Brunel International African Poetry Prize and was named as a winner alongside Nadra Mabrouk of Egypt. She is also currently working on a memoir chronicling her parents' displacement from Somalia, and the death of her sister Ayan in 2014. It is a meditation on the way trauma and memory are passed on across geography and between generations.
Sulaiman Addonia is a novelist who fled Eritrea as a refugee in childhood. He spent his early life in a refugee camp in Sudan following the Om Hajar massacre in 1976, and in his early teens he lived and studied in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. He arrived in London as an underage unaccompanied refugee without a word of English and went on to earn an MA in Development Studies from SOAS and a BSc in Economics from UCL. The Consequences of Love was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and was translated into more than 20 languages. Sulaiman Addonia currently lives in Brussels where he has launched a creative writing academy for refugees and asylum seekers. Silence is My Mother Tongue is his second novel.
Dalia Elhassan is a Sudanese-American poet and writer by way of Miami and lives in NYC. Her work has placed in several competitions in the past and is featured in a number of publications, including The Kenyon Review, the Sierra Nevada Review, The Oakland Arts Review, and Rattle #59. She is the recipient of the Hajja Razia Sharif Sheikh Prize for nonfiction and was shortlisted for the 2018 Brunel International African Poetry Prize. Dalia has spoken and performed at venues including the 2017 Justice Speaks! Conference at Seattle Pacific University.