Nuruddin Farah and Lewis Nkosi
in conversation with ACHILLE MBEMBE at the Time of
The Writer Festival, Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre in
Durban, South Africa on 15 March 20031
A CHILLE MBEMBE (AM): I would like to welcome you to this final session of the 2003 Time of the Writer Festival – over the last few days we have had ample opportunity to think about the political dimensions of the times we live in. In this closing session, with the quality of the writers we have at hand, it seems appropriate to return to the time of writing itself, knowing very well that the time of the political, the time of the social and the time of writing are intricately connected – that they might even be connected in ways each generation will always be excavating, sometimes with totally unexpected tools, as we have just witnessed during the first session. Now, what do we mean by the time of writing? By the time of writing, it seems to me, we mean one of two things. One, the tales, the plots, the shapes and the forms writers invent, and, God knows, both Lewis and Nuruddin have invented tales, plots, forms and shapes – shapes and forms they invent to tell those stories of our time which are peculiar to our age. And in finding the forms that they do, the question therefore is: what new dimensions do they bring to language itself; what new dimensions do they bring to voice? Language and voice as two of the ultimate expressions of our being human in the world, and in this case our being Africans in the world. So let this set off issues that I hope both Nuruddin and Lewis will pick up on and run with.
1 This interview was transcribed by Litzi Lombardozzi. Permission to print the tran-
scribed interview was granted by Lewis Nkosi and Nuruddin Farah; and the Director
of the Centre for Creative Arts, University of KwaZulu–Natal, Mr Peter Rorvik. Minor
changes have been made to the transcription in the interest of fluency of reading.