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Langaa Scholarly and Creative Writing Workshops

Monday 6 December 2010

Writing is a way to express culture, share interpretations of the world, and build knowledge. Writing is also an integral part of education and research processes. Words are a powerful tool. They can make or mar depending on how they are used. Those who employ words should be skilled in how to harness them.

Langaa Publishing and Research Common Initiative Group (Langaa RPCIG) works on the African continent to boost opportunities for learning, practicing, and sharing writing. Langaa contributes to the cultural development and renaissance of Africa. This is achieved by conducting research, providing training in research and writing, and publishing and promoting African scholarship and creative writing. Since 2006, Langaa has published 150 fiction and non-fiction books.

Many African writers lack the freedom and solidarity to explore and defend their creativity fully. Work and even research environments are not conducive to writing. There are few training opportunities and incentives. This calls not only for significant investment in publishing but also for writing workshops to nurture and guide African writers in their creativity and collective interests.

To support Cameroonian cultural production in particular, Langaa provides training in research methodologies and in creative and scholarly writing. This includes training and development for teachers, researchers, writers and artists as consciences of society who propose lenses, challenge misrepresentations, and provide alternative narratives in complex, negotiated and nuanced ways.

The writing workshops organised by Langaa have as their main aim to introduce those, for whom writing is part of their profession, to contextually informed, socially relevant, and accessible writing that meets the generally accepted standards of “good” writing. Writing is a skill that that can be acquired through training and practice, even if some people are admittedly naturally more talented than others.

As a group that promotes and publishes both scholarly and creative writing, Langaa designs its writing workshops to accommodate both types of writers. Journalists, novelists, playwrights, poets, students and academics are amongst those targeted by the Langaa Writing Workshops, which are sufficiently flexible and adaptable to suit the needs of particular groups of people. Civil servants, municipal workers, employees of nongovernmental and civil society organisations who need to deepen their writing skills to fulfil their missions also find the Langaa Writing Workshops relevant and adaptable to their needs.

Designed to take place at the Langaa RPCIG centre (www.langaa-rpcig.net) in Bamenda or Buea, each Writing Workshop can accommodate 10 to 20 participants. Resource persons are drawn from amongst established Cameroonian women and men and other African and non-African academics, writers, journalists and teachers of English and French. As cities with so many schools and colleges, universities, several newspapers, and radio and television stations, Bamenda and Buea are peopled by professional and budding writers constantly in quest of acquiring or improving their writing skills. While it is possible for resource persons to be identified from the various schools, universities and media institutions in Bamenda and Buea, Langaa does not hesitate to look beyond for resource persons, depending on the needs of those seeking training.

The workshops are both theoretical and practical and based on the research and writing aspirations of the participants. They are highly participatory and interactive, include individual and group work, and can be run in English and/or French. In some instances, participants are requested to submit in advance outlines or drafts of work in progress. It is preferable to have a good balance of male and female participants in each workshop. In some instances, workshops are organized for women only, in recognition of the particular constraints they face when it comes to scholarly and artistic production, and the need for a safe environment to explore their creativity. Special workshops can also be designed for elementary and high school students and/or teachers.

Good food, music, poetry and nature can stimulate or support good writing, so these aspects of life, creativity, and scientific rigour are integrated into the workshop programme. See a sample programme below as well as a list of possible modules. Please complete and return the information sheet below as the first step in designing with Langaa the workshop you envision.

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