Celebrating Africa’s creative economy

Meet the African writers and visual artists chosen to help celebrate 20 years of the African Union

November 4, 2022
AU20 Artists and Writers Residency Programme

The 10 creatives were selected through an Africa-wide call on social media platforms and asked to submit their ideas in response to the theme of “Our Africa, Our Future”.

UNDP Regional Programme for Africa

Addis Ababa, 4 November 2022 -- Ten (10) African writers and visual artists who will contribute their creative ideas to the African Union’s 20-year celebrations have been selected as part of the AU20 Artists & Writers Residency Programme.

Following an Africa-wide call, 10 successful applicants were selected for the Residency Programme which received close to 1,000 submissions in response to the open call for applications under the AU20 theme “Our Africa, Our Future”. 392 applications were received for the Writers Residency and 602 submissions for the Artists Residency.

The five winning writers will be hosted by the Library Of Africa and The African Diaspora (LOATAD) in Accra, Ghana, while the five visual artists will be based at the Loman Art House in Dakar, Senegal.

The residencies will allow the artists the time and space to develop and complete their projects while being supported by mentors, workshops, resources and curated activities. The visual artists will take part in a three-week residency at the Loman Art House in Dakar, with a public showcase of their completed artwork on 19 November. The writers will take part in a digital residency followed by a two-week physical residency in Accra. They will showcase their poems and short stories at LOATAD on 26 November.

The selected artists and writers represent 10 different African nationalities from all 5 regions of Africa, making the AU20 Residency Programme a true intra-Africa experience. The open call for applications received almost 1,000 submissions over a 3-week period, including 392 applications for the Writers Residency and 602 applications for the Artists Residency. This demonstrates a high level of interest among Africa’s creative community for platforms to produce and share their skills and talents.

Meet the writers-in-residence:

  • Nour Kamel is an Egyptian poet and editor passionate about exploring her country’s relationship with the continent. Her poetry will explore the different and differing facets of identity and how Africans intertwine across nation states.
  • Sukoluhle Nyathi is a Zimbabwean creative writer, editor and data analyst whose short story will engage with Africa’s economic liberation as a unifying goal for the continent.
  • Kenyan fiction writer and journalist, Tony Mochama, wants to tell a compelling futuristic African short story that cuts across generational and national boundaries on the continent.
  • Nigerian born TJ Benson is an award-winning novelist whose short story will interrogate alternative structures that sprang up across the continent in response to COVID-19 and how they can provide relief in anticipation of future global events.
  • Award-winning Cameroonian writer Musih Tedji Xaviere’s short story is a futuristic piece that features Africa as a global superpower.

Meet the artists-in-residence:

  • Eza Komla is a Togolese multidisciplinary artist whose work explores climate change and upcycles waste into artistic masterpieces.
  • Award-winning Ugandan artist Ronald Odur will use aluminum printing plates, copper wires and acrylics to create a sculpture that expresses the complexities of social and political interactions in Africa.
  • Ethiopian visual artist Natnael Ashebir will use painting, digital art, drawing and photography to explore urbanization and social structures.
  • South African Lerato Motaung is a fine artist whose work will weave the familiar and the imagined together to create a personal and intuitive evocation of the continent’s history.
  • Senami Donoumassou, from Benin, will explore identity, memory, heritage and history through photography and drawings.

The AU20 Residency Programme is supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) who have partnered with the African Union to support various initiatives aimed at celebrating the implementation of the mandates and programmes of the African Union during the 20 years of the organization’s operations. The Residency Programme is being implemented in partnership with Africa No Filter (ANF).

Ms. Leslie Richer, Director of Information and Communication at the African Union, said: “The AU20 Artists & Writers Residency Programme is an exciting component  of the celebration of our organization’s history as it brings to the fore the voices of those that society has charged with preserving, celebrating  and amplifying the diversity our African culture and heritage through their creative talent and skills, and likewise ensures their inclusion in promoting Aspiration 5 of Africa’s development framework Agenda 2063, which envisions 'an Africa with a strong cultural identity, common heritage, shared values and ethics'."

Mr. Jide Okeke, Regional Programme Coordinator at UNDP Africa, said: “Storytellers and creatives contribute to socio-economic development. They remind of us of our collective history, mirror current realities and inspire the future. We therefore welcome creative voices as part of the AU20 celebrations. By developing creativity, we are also creating sustainable development for Africa.”

The AU20 Artists & Writers Residency Programme will culminate in a published anthology and an exhibition at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia creating a platform for their work to be seen by African Heads of States and Government as well as other African and international dignitaries, citizens and visitors who frequent the AU headquarters.


Janet Faith Adhiambo Ochieng, Communications Officer-Agenda 2063, African Union



Michelle Mendi Muita, Regional Programme Communications Specialist, UNDP


About the African Union

The African Union is a continental body that leads Africa’s development and integration in close collaboration with the 55 Member States, the Regional Economic Communities and African citizens. The vision of the African Union is to accelerate progress towards an integrated, prosperous and inclusive Africa, at peace with itself, playing a dynamic role in the continental and global arena, and effectively driven by an accountable, efficient and responsive Commission.

Learn more at: https://au.int/.

About UNDP

UNDP is the leading United Nations organization fighting to end the injustice of poverty, inequality, and climate change. Working with our broad network of experts and partners in 170 countries, we help nations to build integrated, lasting solutions for people and the planet. UNDP’s Regional Programme for Africa contributes to regional development by addressing challenges facing the continent and amplifying opportunities related to the priorities and aspirations defined by the African Union and other regional entities.

Learn more at undp.org/africa or follow @UNDPAfrica.