Shailja Patel selected Guest writer for 2009

Kenyan poet, playwright and theatre artist, Shailja Patel, has been named the 2009 Guest Writer at the Nordic Africa Institute. She will be in residence at the Institute, in Uppsala, Sweden, from April to June 2009, and will be hosted by the ‘Cultural Images in and of Africa’ research programme.

Shailja Patel. Photo: D. Ross Cameron.

The ‘Cultural Images in and of Africa’ programme has previously hosted two guest writers, Ama Ata Aidoo from Ghana, and Gabeba Baderoon from South Africa. The Nigerian writer Tolu Ogunlesi is the 2008 Guest Writer, and will be at the Nordic Africa Institute in Uppsala from September through November this year.

The raison d'être behind the guest writer grant is the conviction that knowledge of Africa is not gained only from social science analysis and facts. Literature and the arts can significantly add another language and meaning, and illustrate the diversity of the continent. The purpose of the grant is three-fold:

  • Firstly, to provide an opportunity to sit and write, away from daily chores, teaching or other (the Nordic Africa Institute is also not a teaching institution);
  • Secondly, to make possible readings to audiences in Sweden, and one or two other Nordic countries by visits to those countries;
  • Thirdly, to add by their presence to the intellectual and cultural atmosphere of the Nordic Africa Institute with its researchers and other staff, guests, guest researchers and scholarship students.
If you want to familiarise yourself with Shailja Patel's artistic and political work, visit her website:

Shailja Patel will perform on 29 June at the opening of the big WALTIC conference (Writers and Translators International Conference) in Stockholm. She has previously performed with her major work, Migritude, among other places, at the Social Forum in Nairobi.

Mai Palmberg (June 2008)
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