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Crossing Borders


Crossing Borders is an exciting new initiative that uses information technology to link young writers in Africa with experienced mentors in the UK. The project is funded by the British Council in London, designed and managed by the Department of English and Creative Writing at Lancaster University and enabled by a network of British Council offices in Africa.

Participants in the project are drawn from Uganda, Kenya, Cameroon, S. Africa, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Ghana and Southern Africa. Our mentors represent a wide range of cultural backgrounds and writing practice, creating a project that is rich in cultural exchange as well as practical strategies for writing development. Crossing Borders is creating a new, international community of writers who communicate through the development of new writing to share their knowledge and experience.

The Crossing Borders website provides information about the background to the project and features profiles of some mentors and participants. It will develop new educational resources as writers discuss writing practice and technique. It will also feature the work of participants who have taken part in the programme. Links and chat facilities will enable writers to share the unique problems and opportunities of writing in English, creating a cultural crossroads on the information super-highway.


Read and listen to new collaborative poem produced for the
Crossing Borders Open Day: "Sing Like a River".


Crossing Borders Writer from Uganda wins Macmillan Prize

It was officially announced on Monday that Glaydah Namukasa, a Ugandan Crossing Borders participant of 3 years standing, won the Macmillan Writers' Prize for Africa 2005 with her story Voice of a Dream. The book will be published by Macmillan. The prize award ceremony will be held in September this year when the book will be launched. The judge's comments on Glaydah's book are copied below:

'A sincere and well-structured story, taking on the real issue of a teenage girl coping with the fallout from AIDS in her family, and resolutely following her dream. Namukasa demonstrates a warm understanding of teenage frustrations; the courage of her heroine shines through.'

Click here for more about Glaydah Namukasa.


Graham Mort on Crossing Borders

An extract from the Crossing Borders website

‘I could hear my voice in the distance; I could identify it.’ Ugandan Crossing Borders participant

Crossing Borders is a cross-cultural distance learning scheme linking young African writers to experienced UK mentors and developing their work through e-mail tutorials. We try to get them to hear, identify and develop their voices as writers. We operate in Uganda, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Southern Africa, Ghana and Cameroon. Over one hundred African writers are enrolled, working in poetry, fiction and children’s literature with around 30 mentors drawn from a wider range of cultural backgrounds in the UK.

The idea began as a pilot scheme in Uganda in 2001, the product of a residency I undertook for the British Council at the University of Makerere. Even before that residency, I had become seriously interested in the relationship between mentors and students in distance learning programmes, especially the way text exchanged electronically becomes a shared and intimate space. Spatial and temporal distance can be overcome at a keystroke, but what of perceived cultural distance? In pursuit of that question the pilot project has grown into something much more significant, finding a home in Lancaster University’s department of English and Creative Writing where I run postgraduate programmes in writing.

My introduction to Africa had been a crash-landing into the turbulent politics and social conditions of the continent. I met a generation of writers working in English, but cut off from their own literary roots through years of social upheaval. Like many African countries, Uganda was an emergent democracy wrestling with the problems of economic development, post-colonial dependencies and a huge AIDS/HIV epidemic. But it was exciting to meet young African writers who saw writing as a means of social change as well as personal expression.

Report on Radiophonics Kampala Radio Writing Workshops

Issue 118 of the Edinburgh Review highlights work by emergent African writers from 'Crossing Borders'. The launch of Voices of Africa will be on Thursday 28th October at Blackwell's Bookshop, 53-62 Southbridge, Edinburgh at 6.30. Click here for more information on this issue of the Edinburgh Review.

Writers on Writing: Click here for Crossing Borders section featuring commissions from contemporary writers, including their creative work plus a discussion of cultural background, genesis, structure, technique and the literature that has inspired and influenced them.

Crossing Borders Gallery

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