Short Story Day Africa is celebrating the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year in the Southern Hemisphere, with a gift of African short fiction.
For the next five days (from 22 June—26 June 2019) SSDA’s 2018 anthology ID: New Short Fiction from Africa will be available for free as an ebook for readers in African territories.
In a blog post to mark the occasion, Helen Moffett, SSDA’s mentoring editor, casts her mind back to Short Story Day Africa’s origins, and reflects on how far it has come. Moffett now runs the SSDA Editing Mentorship, in which experienced editors train and mentor young up-and-coming editors by working on the SSDA anthologies. The mentorship is now in its third year, and as Moffett says, editing is ‘not for the faint-hearted’.
It involves erasing one’s own voice to honour the voice of the story (which itself is not always quite the same thing as the author’s voice). Yet it also involves the courage to stand one’s ground, the diplomacy to negotiate that ground, an ability to see the broader picture, to envisage all the potential ripples spreading out—and in many African countries, this means considering not just literary merits but the political and moral implications of a piece of writing. […]
This sounds all very serious. I’m writing this today, as icy winds tug at my doors and the sky darkens, to tell you that editing – and especially editing the SSDA anthologies—is also fun. Huge fun. So much fun, you can’t imagine. That fleeting relationship with your author might be brief, but it’s often deep and intense. It becomes playful and serious. There is pushback and feelings get hurt. It involves coaxing and laughter and amazing trust and mutual respect. The magic is that these interactions are with people you have never met, and may never meet. When that mutual energy crackles across the vastness and multiplicity of the African continent, it’s truly special.Read more: SSDA
Short Story Day Africa needs your help!
As a small non-profit organisation, Short Story Day Africa relies on donations to fund its development projects, including the Editing Mentorship, the annual prize and anthology, and the writing workshops it holds across Africa.
Right now, SSDA’s coffers are particularly dry, and prize organisers have put out a call for donations:
Short Story Day Africa may be tiny, but it is integral to the African literary sphere. Please help us continue our work in nurturing and strengthening literature in Africa by donating. We accept donations of any size. You can become an official sponsor of Short Story Day Africa with a donation of only R1500, or US$110, and we’ll list you on the Sponsors page of our website. Any and all amounts—big or small—will go toward the development of African writers.
Since being founded by author Rachel Zadok in 2011, Short Story Day Africa has published six anthologies (with the seventh in progress) and 122 writers. It has also helped nurture the talent of a number of writers who have gone on to win or be shortlisted for some major awards, including the Short.Sharp.Stories Prize, the Commonwealth Writers Prize, the Caine Prize for African Writing, the African Speculative Fiction Society NOMMO Awards, the Brittle Paper Awards, and others.
Just recently, 2018 SSDA finalist Cherrie Kandie and winner Tochukwu Emmanuel Okafor were announced on the five-writer shortlist for the prestigious Caine Prize.
And if you are a budding writer, the Short Story Day Africa is currently open for submissions! This year’s theme is Disruption.