The African Literature Association will meet April 11-15, 2012, at SMU and Dallas’s Adolphus Hotel to explore human rights issues in Africa.
The association’s 38th annual meeting will feature 10 writers, journalists and performers from various countries in Africa and is expected to draw more than 400 participants from all over the world, including Japan, Australia, Great Britain, France, Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States and various African countries.
Participants will explore the theme of human rights in current African art, literature and the visual arts, as well as in the areas of health and political freedom.
Campus events, which are free and open to the public, include the following:
- A special screening of the film Quartier Mozart will take place at 7 p.m. Friday, April 13, in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Theater. Based on African folklore, it tells the story of a mischievous young girl who wants to know what it’s like to be a boy and has her wish granted by a witch. The film was shown at Cannes, and went on to critical acclaim, winning awards at FESPACO, the Montréal Film Festival, and the Locarno Film Festival, and receiving a nomination for a British Film and Television Award. Jean-Pierre Bekolo, the film’s director, will be on hand to answer questions.
- The 70th birthday of award-winning Ghanaian writer and playwright Ama Ata Aidoo (pictured right) will be celebrated with a staged reading from her two plays at 2 p.m. Saturday, April 14, in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Theater. The readings are being organized in cooperation with the SMU Theatre program and adapted by Professor Gretchen Smith, head of theatre studies in SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts.The readings will be followed by the launching of her newest book of short stories, Diplomatic Pounds and Other Stories, as well as the launch of a festschrift in her honor, Essays in Honour of Ama Ata Aidoo at 70. Works by Aidoo, former Education Minister of Ghana, often depict the role of the African woman in modern society. Her acclaimed prose works include No Sweetness Here (1970), a collection of short stories; the semi-autobiographical novel Our Sister Killjoy (1979); and Changes: A Love Story (1991), which won the 1993 Commonwealth Writers Prize for the Africa region. Aidoo has noted that the idea of nationalism has been used by new leaders as a tool to keep people oppressed, according to her biography. One of the most respected and prolific writers from the African continent, her central issues are the legacy of the slave trade, the impact of neo-colonialism on the educated Ghanaian elite, and the notion of exile and African diasporic identity.
Participating SMU faculty members and conference supporters include Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, the Department of World Languages and Literatures, Department of English, the Embrey Human Rights Program, the Scott-Hawkins Lecture Series, and the Honors Program.