Sponsored and organized by:
The Organization of Women Writers of Africa (OWWA)
New York University Institute of African American Affairs

Hosted by:
Mbaasem Foundation

Lead Partner:
Fundación Mujeres por África/The Women for Africa Foundation

Supported by:
New York University Africa House
New York University Accra
New York University Africana Studies Program
The Haiti Illumination Project

Collaborating Organizations:
The Pan-African Writers’ Association
The Ghana Association of Writers
The Writers Project of Ghana
Centre for Popular Education and Human Rights – Ghana
Witness Tree Literary Arts Education

There are no supporting structures for writers apart from their own resources, and very few African writers can say that they are the sole beneficiaries of even those meager resources…All this works out worse for women writers. Because in most situations where care and nurturing is needed, women are not only the last to be considered as worthy recipients, but they are actually expected to forget about themselves and take care of others! However, writers, especially women writers too have a right to live, plus some time and peace to work.”

Ama Ata Aidoo, Ghanaian writer and poet

Click here for original full program


In Accra, Ghana, between the 16th and 19th of May 2013, more than 60 women and men from more than 20 countries came together to participate in Yari Yari Ntoaso: Continuing the Dialogue, an international conference on literature by women of African descent.  They presented creative and scholarly perspectives on topics such as: literature and activism, the publishing process, the use of technology, and the act of writing. Public attendees came from around Ghana and from more countries than the speakers, including places as far away as South Africa, China, and the UK.

True to its title –  Yari means the future in the Kuranko language of Sierra Leone, and Ntoaso means understanding and agreement in the Akan language of Ghana – this conference continued the dialogue begun at previous Yari Yari conferences at New York University in 1997 and 2004 (page 7 in the full program), while presenting fresh perspectives with an eye to the future. Throughout the 29 panels, readings, performances, and interactive workshops in the program, the life and work of renowned poet and OWWA (Organization of Women Writers of Africa) co-founder Jayne Cortez (1934-2012) was remembered and honored. For the first time, Yari Yari hosted events specifically for children and youth, explicitly engaging cross-generational dialogue. Children from all over Ghana attended, including from the Youth Institute of Science and Technology in the Asante region — a four-hour drive from Accra!

In addition to dozens of well-known and emerging authors, scholars, and artists  notable attendees included three ministers of the Ghanaian cabinet, as well as Samia Nkrumah, a politician and the daughter of Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of Ghana. Scholar and activist Angela Davis spoke during the opening plenary and attended much of the conference. Her comments about political engagement and the importance of writing were an excellent start to Yari Yari Ntoaso, and were covered by all of Ghana’s major TV networks and newspapers. The conference was also covered by Ghana’s most popular radio stations and television morning shows, as well as by several media outlets in Nigeria.  

Yari Yari Ntoaso was the result of true international collaboration. NYU’s Institute of African American Affairs, NYU Accra, Africa House, Africana Studies Program, along with the Organization of Women Writers of Africa (OWWA) and the Haiti Illumination Project provided key financial and/or administrative support. Lead partner Fundación Mujeres por África/The Women for Africa Foundation, in addition to providing generous support chose to announce their major new initiative, a prize for literature in Spanish written by African women. Planning support was provided by The New York Council for the Humanities, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. The Mbaasem Foundation, the host organization founded by highly-acclaimed writer Ama Ata Aidoo considered by many the “mother of African literature,” facilitated the logistics within Accra, including the live streaming of most events online—another Yari Yari first. Local organizations such as the Pan-African Writers Association, the Ghana Association of Writers, and the Ghana Writers Project all participated in and contributed to the conference. Please see pages 4 – 5 and page 26 in the full program for more details.

For the first time Yari Yari took to the streets, presenting and taping performances in and outside of the official venue. The African premieres of the film Audre Lorde: The Berlin Years and the photography series “Her Word as Witness: Women Writers of the African Diaspora” were met with excitement. More than 30 mini-interviews were recorded with creative women who were participants or attendees from all over the world and from all walks of life.

As was the intention of this conference, important information and best practices were shared across genres, countries, cultures, and languages. International alliances and friendships were formed. The collaborators and partners, as well as the participants and attendees of Yari Yari Ntoaso, will certainly continue to dialogue for many years to come.



  • Ama Ata Aidoo (Ghana) at Pan-African Ghanaian Writers Reception -Yari Yari Ntoaso 2013 Ghana (Fungai Machiori photo 1)

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(Please note the schedule below subject to change)

Yari Yari NTOASO: Continuing the Dialogue
Accra, Ghana 2013
Main Venue:
Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons
No. 54 Independence Avenue
Near Ridge Roundabout

Thursday, 16 May 2013

10:00am-4:30:  Registration

10:00am-4:30pm: Book Tables & Vendors

10:30-11:00: Welcome & Orientation
Welcome from representatives of the conference sponsors and collaborating organizations.

11:00-1:00pm:  Master Translation Class This class is first-come, first-served; please arrive a few minutes early. Led by Wangui wa Goro (Kenya)

1:00-3:00pm: Performance Art Workshops Workshops are first-come, first-served; please arrive a few minutes early. Led by Gabrielle Civil (USA/Haiti) and Wura-Natasha Ogunji (Nigeria/USA)

3:15-4:30pm – Identity & Creativity
How authors’ and characters’ identities affect the creative process.
Gladys Francis (Guadeloupe); Yolanda Arroyo Pizarro (Puerto Rico); Mamle Kabu (Ghana); Cheryl Sterling (USA); Helen Yitah (Ghana)

4:45-6:15pm – Opening Plenary
Greetings from representatives of The Republic of Ghana & Conference Organizers
Plenary Speakers: Ama Ata Aidoo (Ghana), Sapphire (USA), Angela Davis (USA),
Rosamond S. King (The Gambia/Trinidad & Tobago/USA)

6:30-8:00pm – Opening Reception Sponsored by NYU Accra

8:00-9:00pm – Open Mike

Friday, 17 May 2013

9:00am-5:00pm:  Registration

9:00am-5:00pm: Book Tables & Vendors

9:30-11:00am: Roundtable: Getting the Work out (for emerging authors)
Writers, editors, and administrators discuss the many venues through which emerging authors can put their work in front of readers.
Doreen Baingana (Uganda); Latasha N Nevada Diggs (USA); Kadija George (Sierra Leone/UK); Nana Ayebia Clarke (Ghana/UK); Writers’ Project of Ghana representative Moderator: Tara Betts (USA)

11:00am-12:15pm: Ghanaian Writers & Scholars in Conversation
Authors and scholars discuss their work and the current literary scenes in Ghana.
Amma Darko (Ghana); Faith Ben-Daniels (Ghana); Ruby Yayra Goka (Ghana); Famia Nkansa (Ghana), Naana Opoku-Agyemang (Ghana)
Moderator: Ghana Association of Writers representative

12:15-1:30pm – Lunch – Visit the book tables and vendors, and network!

1:30-1:45pm – Author Portrait Slide Show Presentation: “Her Word as Witness: Women Writers of the African Diaspora” – African Premiere!
Laylah Amatullah Barrayn (USA)

2:00-3:15pm: African & Diaspora Children’s & Young Adult Literature, Now & in the Future
Deborah Ahenkorah (Ghana), Ayo Ayoola-Amele (Ghana); Akachi Ezeigbo (Nigeria), Michelle Martin & Rachelle Washington (USA), Esi Sutherland-Addy (Ghana)

3:30-4:45pm: Authors & Action
How authors respond to environmental and man-made disasters.
Angelique Nixon (Bahamas/USA); Tess Onwueme (Nigeria); Hermine Pinson (USA); Eintou Pearl Springer (Trinidad & Tobago); Dzodzi Tsikata (Ghana)
Moderator: Ira Dworkin (USA/Egypt)

5:00-6:30pm: Tribute to the Life, Writing, & Activism of Jayne Cortez (1934-2012)

7-8:30: Pan-African Writers Association and Ghana Association of Writers Reception, Reading & Open Mic
at PAWA House
Address: Roman Road, Roman Ridge, Accra
Hosted by PAWA Secretary General Atukwei Okai, featuring Natalia Molebatsi, Angelique V. Nixon, Hermine Pinson, & Ghanaian authors TBA

Saturday, 18 May 2013

8:45am-5:00pm:  Registration

9:00am-5:00pm: Book Tables & Vendors

9:00-10:45am: Screening of Audre Lorde: The Berlin Years – 1984-1992 – African Premiere!
Discussants: Gina Dent (USA) & Olumide Popoola (Nigeria/Germany/UK)

9:00-10:30am: Children’s Storytime (boys and girls welcome!)
Ayo Ayoola-Amele (Ghana); Ruby Yayra Goka (Ghana); Akachi Ezeigbo (Nigeria); Eintou Pearl Springer (Trinidad & Tobago); Elizabeth-Irene Baitie (Ghana)

9:00-10:30am: Writing Workshop for Youth (young men and young women ages 13-19 welcome!) Workshops are first-come, first-served; please arrive a few minutes early.
Poetry workshop led by Natalia Molebatsi (South Africa) Fiction workshop led by Deborah Ahenkorah (Ghana)

11:00am-12:15pm: The Creative Process
Writers discuss craft and the creative process in written and oral literature.
Camille Dungy (USA); Rashidah Ismaili (Benin/USA); Natalia Molebatsi (South Africa); Monica Arac de Nyeko (Uganda/Ghana); Wanguri wa Goro (Kenya)
Moderator: Madhu H. Kaza (India/USA)

12:15-1:45: Lunch – Visit the book table and vendors, and network!

2:00-3:15pm: Writing Sexuality
Samiya Bashir (Somalia/USA); Virginia Phiri (Zimbabwe); Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah (Ghana); Lola Shoneyin (Nigeria); Anita Cobbinah (Ghana)
Moderator: Kuukua Dzigbordi Yomekpe (Ghana)

3:30-4:45: Youth Open Mike
Writers under 20, whether or not they attended the workshop, are invited to read short pieces
– everyone else, cheer them on!

5:00pm-6:30pm: Writing Through the Body: Performance Art
Gabrielle Civil (USA/Haiti); Rosamond S. King (USA/Trinidad/The Gambia); Wura-Natasha Ogunji (USA/Nigeria)

6:00-7:30: SABLE Reading
Hosted by SABLE Editor Kadija George & Featuring Nana Akosua, Yolanda Arroyo Pizarro,
Khadija Ibrahim, Mamle Kabu, Lola Shoneyin, & Dorothea Smartt

Sunday, 19 May 2013

9:30am-1:00pm: Registration

9:30am-6:00pm: Book Tables & Vendors

10:00-11:15am – Configuring the Past & the Future
Zetta Elliott (Canada/USA); Lucía Charún-Illescas (Peru/Germany); Gina Athena Ulysse (Haiti/USA), Ishraga Mustafa Hamid (Sudan/Austria) Moderator: Dorothy Randall Tsuruta (USA)

11:30am-1:00pm – New Venues, New Audiences; Literature and Technology
These speakers discuss editing, publishing, distribution, and the use of other media to network and communicate
Joanne Braxton (USA); Khadija Ibrahiim (UK); Fungai Machirori (Zimbabwe); Wana Udobang (Nigeria) Moderator: Jason King (USA)

1:00-2:00pm – Lunch – Visit the book table and vendors, and network!

2:15-3:30 – Continuing the Dialogue: Keeping Our Work in the World
Editors and arts administrators discuss the logistics of keeping women’s writing available.
Janet Badjan Young (The Gambia); Bibi Bakare-Yusuf (Nigeria); Margaret Busby (Ghana/UK); Roshnie Moonsammy (South Africa); Ghana Writers Association representative Moderator: Maureen Ngozi Eke (Nigeria/USA)

3:45-5:00pm – Closing Plenary
Doreen Baingana (Uganda); Tess Onwueme (Nigeria); Véronique Tadjo (Cote d’Ivoire); Évelyne Trouillot (Haiti); María Teresa Fernández de la Vega (Spain) Closing remarks by OWWA members Rashidah Ismaili & Rosamond S. King

5:00-6:15 – Closing Reception