The Short Story Day Africa Editing Mentoring Programme is now in its second year, and is currently in full swing. What’s it all about? We explain why we at SSDA, along with our friends, collaborators and funders, consider this so important in this post here.
In a nutshell, sensitive, context-appropriate, intuitive and meticulous editors are vital to keep our writers and writing industry growing – and while this is true of all writing, everywhere, it’s especially pertinent to the African continent. Too many writers from Africa and the diaspora are under-edited, expected to manage without an editor, or handed over to Western editors, who are sometimes blind to the context, nuances and idioms of authors from the continent. Inexperienced editors are also more likely to judge written work that displays less than perfect management of English syntax and idiom as “weak”, and thus to discard gems that just need a little polishing to make them shine.
So we believe it’s vital to build editing capacity on the continent. But there are precious few courses available, most training is costly, and in any case, most experienced publishers and editors know that the best – and sometimes the only – way to learn is on the job.
This is why for the past two years, we’ve used the SSDA anthology as a double platform: to showcase the best writing from Africa and to develop hot new talent; but also to develop editors in Africa who have the potential for long, productive and hopefully illustrious careers in publishing and similar fields ahead of them.
This year’s SSDA Editing Mentorship Fellows are Otieno Owino and Nebila Abdulmelik, and we’re proud to introduce the team.
Otieno has been an Assistant Editor at the Kenyan literary publisher Kwani Trust since 2015. At Kwani, he has been part of the editorial teams on the Kwani? Manuscript Project and the Kwani? journal. He was the junior editor for Safe House: Explorations in Creative Nonfiction, an anthology put together by Commonwealth writers, in which he worked with renowned editor Ellah Wakatama Allfrey. Otieno recently completed an MLitt in Publishing Studies at the University of Stirling, UK, as a Commonwealth Scholar. He lives in Nairobi. Find out more about him here, and follow him on Twitter: @ otieno_owino.
Nebila is a pan-Africanist and a feminist who is passionate about social justice, as well as the power of storytelling. She uses photography and writing, including poetry, to document life for the coming generations. Nebila has an MA in African Studies, with an emphasis on Gender and Development from UCLA. She is based in Addis. Find out more about her here, visit her blog , and follow her on Twitter: @aliben86.
They have been working closely with Helen Moffett, the Editing Mentor. Helen is a writer, freelance editor, feminist activist and recovering academic. She’s written university textbooks, a book on cricket, erotica, compiled several anthologies, pieces for print and online media, academic articles, and is an award-winning poet. She loves collaborating on writing projects, and wishes there was some way she could download or upload for posterity what she’s learned in nearly three decades of editing some of Africa’s finest writers and academics. Programmes like the Editing Mentorship are the next best thing.
She blogs at https://www.helenmoffett.com/, and you can follow her on Twitter @heckitty.