If you've ever been in a bank queue, in a bar or at a braai, you know that Namibia is a nation of storytellers. It's a country where tall stories are transferred in taxis and scandals are submitted with extra spice.
In a bid to nurture and support the best of Namibia's narrators, Goethe-Institut Namibia recently launched their Short-Story Prize.
Inviting local writers to submit one previously unpublished short story in any fiction genre under the theme 'In Times of Pandemic', Goethe-Institut will be awarding the best story N$5000 in prize money.
Set to be an annual short-story contest and workshop, this year's theme encourages writers to be inspired by the times. Stories should be between 3000 and 5000 words long and explore experiences or ideas about the pandemic. Ultimately, Goethe-Institut Namibia hopes to create a publication that draws from these submissions.
"We have an oral culture in Namibia and Namibians enjoy telling stories. It is part of our African heritage, so we would like to tap into that norm and provide Namibians with the opportunity to put their stories on paper and reach an audience wider than family and friends," says Goethe-Institut Namibia press and communications officer Lendl Izaaks.
"The Covid-19 pandemic has affected all of us in many ways, some more than others. This is a great opportunity for Namibians to connect through the similarities and differences of their experiences. Ultimately, we would like to foster a reader and writers' culture in Namibia. Projects which Goethe-Institut was a part of in the past have done the same on a continental level but as this was not possible this year, we would still like to make it possible locally."
Generally, entries for the competition must discuss the circumstances of a subject/person and/or society in times of a pandemic. "This is broad and can be interpreted in many ways when producing a factual or fictional piece," says Izaaks. "The year is almost over and it is a great time for Namibians to reflect on what we have experienced, how it has forced us to change, what we have gained, what we have lost and what we have learnt from the Covid-19 experience which isn't over just yet."
For those feeling unsure about their ability to craft a suitable short story, The Goethe-Institut Namibia short-story prize is launched alongside a free short story workshop which will take place from 19 - 21 November. Spaces are limited and interested parties must submit a short biography and 200-word sample of their original writing to Goethe-Institut by 16 November.
The 3-day workshop will be facilitated by journalism and media lecturer Hannah Tarindwa who will introduce participants to the tools of the writing process. In particular, Tarindwa will focus on producing a piece of creative and fictional writing under a particular theme. Both workshop and short story prize winners will be judged by an independent panel. "We are delighted that the local literary scene is gaining momentum and hope that our efforts are recognised contributions to maintaining that impetus," says Izaaks.
"The Goethe-Institut fosters cultural-exchange and for that to occur, individuals in society should be enabled and able to engage with not only themselves but also others from different locations and cultures. Writing a short story is one way in which Namibia can relate to and reflect on herself for that momentum to gain traction in more than one direction," he says "Namibian stories want to be told."
For more information, to submit your short-story workshop application and short story, email HYPERLINK "mailto:[email protected]" [email protected] by 16 November. Entries for the Short Story Prize may be submitted between 1 - 30 November. Visit goethe.de for the short story contest's strict submission guidelines.
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