b. 1949, Tunisia
novelist and short story writer
The Tunisian writer Mohammed Aziza publishes his fiction under the name Chams Nadir, Arabic for "radiant sun." His best-known work is a widely translated collection of short stories entitled The Astrolabe of the Sea (L'Astrolabe de la mer) (1980) and prefaced by Léopold Senghor. It uses the framing device of an astrolabe, an ancient navigational instrument in this case endowed with speech, which tells a series of stories criticizing Western materialist values. Nadir is also the author of Silence des sémaphores (Silence of the Semaphores) (1979), Le Livre des celebrations (The Book of Celebrations) (1983), and Les Portiques de la mer (The Portals of the Sea) (1990). Under his given name, Aziza has also published a number of works on Arab theater and, in conjunction with his work in public affairs for the Organization of African Unity and Unesco, several books on African and Islamic art.
b. 1938, Uganda
poet and critic
As one of the first group of students to study literature at Makerere University College in the early 1960s, the Ugandan poet and critic John Nagenda was one of the pioneers of writing in East Africa and was closely associated with the "Makerere school" of writing which was to produce important figures like David Rubadiri and Ngugi wa Thiong'o. At Makerere, Nagenda was editor of Penpoint and his early poems and stories appeared in this journal and other regional publications, including Transition. In his early poems and short stories, Nagenda's work is located at the transitional moment in East African literature in English, when writers educated in the British tradition were trying to adopt the forms of prose and poetry learnt in the colonial school and university to represent the African landscape, to find local substitutes for Wordsworth's Lake District, as it were, and to account for their own coming into being as subjects caught between old and modern ways. These two tendencies are pronounced in poems such as "Gahini Lake" and the short story "And This, At Last," both published in the pioneering Makerere anthology, Origin East Africa, edited by David Cook (1965). During Uganda's turbulent history in the 1970s and most of the 1980s, Nagenda lived in exile in Britain and did little writing during this period. He returned to