Accordingly, a pilot
distance learning scheme, Crossing Borders, was developed in 2001,
linking Ugandan writers to a multi-cultural group of mentors in
the UK, all of whom were professional writers and experienced
writing workshop leaders. A framework for email exchange was devised
and guidelines written to enable the submission of work to mentors
and facilitate their response. A series of live workshops was
held at the end of the distance learning scheme, culminating in
a public performance of new writing before an invited audience
of Ugandan writers.
Feedback from mentors and participants showed that the pilot
scheme had worked well and it was consolidated and expanded to
include 18 participants in 2002. Results from this expanded pilot
scheme were also overwhelmingly positive.
Consultation and writer’s visits began to show that similar
restrictive conditions prevail in a number of other English-speaking
African countries in which the British Council is active. The
current (2003/4) project is therefore a significantly extended
scheme based on the successful pilot schemes in Uganda.
The project has found a new UK base at Lancaster University under
the leadership of Graham Mort. As well as existing as a dynamic
action-research project, Crossin gBorders will become the subject
of academic research at Lancaster, where the project archive will
We have greatly expanded our team of mentors to include around
30 writers who wish to be involved with the scheme. We have also
appointed a project manager, Tara Duce, and a mentor coordinator,
Sara Maitland, to facilitate this expansion and provide a secure
and efficient administrative framework.
The British Council UK have increased their core funding and
assigned Hannah Henderson, from the Department of Film and Literature,
as their UK Project Leader. Kate Ewart-Biggs and Sandra Hook from
the British Council office in Kampala offer leadership in East
Africa, based on their experience of the scheme so far. In the
coming year, Nigeria will assume a similar leadership role in
West Africa under the guidance of Denise Waddingham.
September 2003 the expanded scheme was re-launched in Uganda,
Kenya, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe. In April 2004, a new development
will be launched in Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon and South Africa.