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Ethiopia ToHostThe 4th Eastern African Literary &Cultural Studies Conference Scholars from across Africa and the globe arrive in Lalibela!

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Estern AfricaBy Ayele Addis Ambelu ([email protected])

The Eastern Africa Literary and Cultural Studies Conference, an unprecedented global academic event, will be held in partnership with the Amhara Region Media Association in Lalibela,a center of world heritage.The international conference encourages academics and scholars to meet and exchange ideas and views in a forum of stimulating respectful dialogue. The event will afford an exceptional opportunity for renewing old acquaintances, making new contacts, networking, and facilitating partnerships across national and disciplinary borders.

Since its founding in 2013, EALCS has brought people and ideas together in a variety of events and platforms to promote and celebrate interdisciplinary study, and underline the importance of such research. The academic association has engaged in many cross-sectoral projects, including those with universities, government institutions and other organizations.

This year it is the turn of Ethiopia to host the eminent gathering. Lalibela is experiencing a unique, exciting first-of-its-kind cultural festival through this week and will conclude with the celebration of Ashendeye on the 22nd August.

African literary and cultural scholars and performers, authors, poets and artists have travelled into the Lastamountains to gather for a festival of ideas, and spend three days in historic Lalibela. In an environment, rich and vibrant with heritage and history, scholars from all around the world will be celebrating East Africa’s finest cultural practitioners.

The scholarly platform, Eastern Africa Literary and Cultural Studies series has endeavored, since 2013, to be a platform for stimulating engagement between the region’s scholars and colleagues/institutions across Africa and beyond. The first conference was held  inNairobi, the second in Uganda, the third in Tanzania.  Held every two years, this year’s edition is the fourth in the series and is being held in Lalibela, Ethiopia. The site of the conference is an area of the historic town that has become a scholarly ‘campus’ for three days, enabling a creative setting for intellectual and academic learning and exchange.

The theme of EALCS 2019 – East Africa’s Elsewheres – has been chosen to resonate with both local and regional scholarly interests. Broadly, it will cover popular culture, popular literature and popular music, and how these forms shape East African communities.  The conference will be attended by highly regarded African and international authors, poets and scholars.  Scholars from Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya will be joined by counterparts from the United States and Europe for the three day creative ideas fest. The two yearly event is recognized as a flagship meeting space for Africa’s finest human sciences thinkers. Keynote speakers at the event are: LemnSissay, poet, Chancellor of Manchester University, and well known friend of Ethiopia; BarakaSakin, author in exile;Maurice Vambe,  scholar of African literature; and YikunnoamlakMezgebu, director of the Ethiopian National Archives and Library.

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LemnSissay quote:        “The mountains of Lasta beckon….I am soon traveling to Lalibela where the best of East African and African literary and cultural writers and scholars will be gathering. What a tribute to the great works of St King Lalibela and his wife St Queen Mesquel.”

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Short description:

EALCS  is designed to be a platform for those who share a passion for Eastern African Studiesto stimulate scholarly engagement between indivualsand institutionson the continentand beyond.

Interviews with press can take place after the event where LemnSissaywill conduct a reading from his recently published book – My Name Is Why (Canongate Books, 2019). Please make sure to approach delegated public relations staff from the organizing team upon arrival.

Reviews of My Name Is Why:

‘Hugely enjoyable, inventive, funny and touching.’ Author: Guardian

‘His gift as a writer – of plays, poetry, documentaries – is for turning life’s base metal into gold.’ Author – The Observer

‘His name is magic, his poems are songs on the street’ – Independent

‘Fans of his writing will have been waiting for this memoir. He has an extraordinary story to tell’ – The Sunday Times

‘One of the most original, challenging poets writing in Britain today, and his extraordinary, heart-breaking, courageous life story is the stuff of legend… Full of light and hope… A prodigious talent.’ – The Daily Mail

‘No Government Inquiry could ever expose the inhumanity of our nation’s care system more effectively than this memoir. The evidence is all here. I wept at the sheer monumental cruelty of it. The racism.The crushing, degrading absence of respect and encouragement.The simple yearning for love and a sense of self.LemnSissay is triumph of human survival. Shame on all of us that this happens in our midst’ – Helena Kennedy QC

‘LemnSissay the person shines through it all, his unflinching honesty, his attention to detail, his humour and bravery’ – Kit de Waal

‘I read My Name Is Why in one sitting, crying and crying and smiling and shaking, gobsmacked at how LemnSissay was treated and what he went through. I am in awe of him and his strength and kindness, and the true gentleness that shines through him. What a book. Heartbreaking and raw and stark and beautiful’ – Lisa Faulkner

‘Inspirational… My Name Is Why shows how resilience, determination and courage can be used to drive yourself forward to make a difference’ – Floella Benjamin