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I've Been Nominated for a Nommo Award!

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It's nomination season once again! The African Speculative Fiction Society  (ASFS) has been operating since 2017, when it created the esteemed Nommo Awards, recognizing contributions by African writers in the genres of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and magical realism. The categories are: Novel Novella Short Story Graphic Novel First, works are nominated for the long list, then there are 2 rounds of voting for the short list and winners respectively.  Well, my short story (flash fiction really) made it to the long list for 2020! It is titled The Blue Ball , and I wrote it in response to a word prompt challenge. I had never written flash fiction before, which is a story that is approximately the length of a page at most. The story could have gone in any direction, any genre or topic, but the title had to be "The Blue Ball". I took a science fiction approach to it, since it's one of my favourite genres. Give it a read, and check out the other stories

Description Practice: Zomba Plateau, Emperor's View

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Happy Easter from The Inside! A lot of firsts in the world including the first Easter in most of our lifetimes where the whole world will be spending it indoors. Rather than get massive FOMO about not being able to go anywhere, I would like to spend the time practicing my descriptions as I have done in previous posts .  This time I will be describing the view from Zomba mountain, the key tourist feature of the former capital of Malawi. Zomba has protected forestry, which gives it a feel that's closer to nature than the other towns in Malawi. The trees are allowed to grow to massive breadth and height, giving a feel that humans are very much visitors in a natural world.  When you get to the top of the mountain, there is quite a sight to behold. A View from the Top of the World The first thing you notice is how the landscape suddenly unfurls like the most high-definition live Google map image you have ever seen. Emperor's View is the very seat of the world - you ca

Covid-19 Social Isolation Effects: Daring to Look Beyond the Abyss

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Everything is changing. That is clear to everyone on the planet at the moment, and no one but God knows what the world will look like, what the new normal will be. But we have definitely been tested as a generation. Many of the changes are happening at an individual level. As gradually all nations are requiring their citizens to remain indoors for the safety of the entire society, there are unforeseen side effects. People are struggling to maintain their sanity. Most people do not normally spend so much time in isolation,   and there is a reason why it is used as a disciplinary measure in prisons. But one would think that being in your own home should not feel like prison isolation, with all your comforts. It is fascinating to see celebrities and social media personalities struggle to cope without a daily dosage of attention and validation, because everyone else has been focused on Covid-19 news.   When makeup artists and stylists have to stay home, you see images of famo

Old Book Review: Lioness Rampant

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Having a passion for reading means inevitably you get to a stage where the number of books you own overtake your ability to read them all. I decided for my next read to pick up something old instead of hunting for something new. I dusted off Lioness Rampant, which has followed me since I was a teenager, from Lilongwe to Johannesburg, where it stayed in a box of other books 3 more years after I left for Blantyre before I had them sent to me. It was secondhand to start with and is still in decent condition. Lioness Rampant is a fantasy adventure written in (1988), and it centres around a female knight who also happened to have magical abilities. It is the 4th in a series, which took some getting used to since I didn't have the first 3 books and there were a few blanks to fill in. However, the book did a good job of keeping the new reader informed about plot-relevant details, using call-backs and memories. The first in the series was about her becoming a knight while pretendin

Coronavirus: A View From Malawi

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CDC Map of Coronavirus spread It's almost hard to remember what on earth we talked about before coronavirus took over literally everything... emails from website hosts are even informing customers what they are doing as a response. So as a blogger with an audience, I suppose I have to make a statement of sorts. Crazy times, huh? Alright, not as poignant as you'd expect a from a writer, but we're all off our game a little, aren't we? As I write, I am fortunate enough to look outside my window and see that my community hasn't drastically changed... yet. There are precautionary measures and regular monitoring of ports of entry. Though testing has been done, there hasn't been any have have tested positive. Regardless, I can't help but to think of the scifi stories I have read and watched, where one gets to see the future through some story McGuffin or other, and decide if they will act to change that future or not. Though Malawi is currently in a pol

Description Practice: Aerial View of Blantyre City

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A couple of weeks ago, I did an exercise to practice my description writing skills in a post called  Practice Writing Descriptions for Fiction . In that post, I described a beach at Nkhata Bay, and today  I will be describing an urban setting in this post, specifically the city of Blantyre from an aerial perspective... From Splash Restaurant at Amaryllis Hotel   Seated on the brightly coloured cozy deck furniture, there is a sense of serenity, like you're floating above the city. There's at least a 200 degree view of the heart of the banking district, all the multiple storied buildings are in this span of land. You can see how the city is in a wide bowl, whose edges are the mountains and hills on the horizon. They sit like silent guardians surrounding the citizens. Grey clouds roll over lazily, refusing to commit to either raining or not. The balcony itself has a pool which wraps itself around the corner of the building. If you take a dip in the pool, it would feel li

John Chilembwe Play: A Polished Performance

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History is not everyone’s favourite subject, and certainly has been given a reputation through years of international media as being boring - a long droning list of dates and facts. If the reality truly reflects this, perhaps an alternative teaching method would be to turn history lessons into theatre performances. That is exactly what YDC Theatre did when they brought to life the story of Malawian historical figure John Chilembwe, in a play titled  Operation Mandala: 1915 . The play is written and directed by Fumbani Innot Phiri Jr ( Chimmy the Chambo Has 3 Wishes, YDC Theatre's Macbeth ), whose invisible touch is responsible for the cohesive strength of the production.  The first impression when watching the play is observing the level of teamwork and synchronicity amongst the cast. The timing of the dialogue was perfect, alternating between group chants and solo monologues in a seamless, harmonic manner. Though the main character of John Chilembwe was naturally k

Practice Writing Descriptions for Fiction

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The rolling hills of the African Rift Valley Whenever I travel around Malawi I see these breathtaking landscapes which spark my imagination. The rainy season is my favourite time, since I adore the natural blues and greens - you see plenty of those when you're travelling as far up as the northern region.  I took the opportunity to work on the areas of my fiction writing I have always wanted to improve: descriptions. I get excited writing plots, characters, and action, but what suffers in the end is my settings and descriptions that immerse readers into the place the character is located. So why not use real settings for practice? So here goes: Nkhata Bay, Northern Region ~~~ Nkhata Bay had its own energy; unlike Mzuzu, Lilongwe, or Blantyre, something about the northern lakeside town gave the feeling of a holiday frozen in time. Although the season was not quite right for a holiday, with overcast skies that oscillated between pouring rains and breaks of b

Jember: An Ethiopian Kickstarter Comic Book

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Meet Jember, the Ethiopian Superhero I had the privilege of chatting with an African comic book creator who is breaking out in a big way. Using the power of Kickstarter , he is raising funds to produce and distribute his brand new comic book from scratch. Since the popular Black Panther  movie, the doors have been opened for African superheroes (which have existed for years) to garner more global attention than ever before.  The strategic release of this creator's project duringUS Black History Month cannot be overlooked... The young man's name is  Beserat Debebe , and we discussed his brainchild;  Jember . Read more to find out more about the Ethiopian Superhero, and how you can be a part of bringing this exciting project to fruition. UPDATE: The Kickstarter fund surpassed its funding goals in just 4 hours! You can still contribute for the remaining days until the 4th of March for their stretch goal to do an epic comic book tour across Africa ... My Interview w

How I Started Writing

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Image Credit: Property of Disney - but aren't we all? I grew up in what I now consider a unique period, as I was really a member of one of the last generation to have no internet, and our options for recreation after school were "limited" to radio, CDs, the outdoors, and books. Between my twin sister and I, I was by far the introvert. So while we could play pretend together for hours (don't ask about the Blanket Fort, that's another post on its own), and listen to CDs on repeat until we knew all the wrong lyrics by heart, when it came to playing outdoors, I'd be more of the "Hmmm, how dirty is that though" inclination. So at times, when my sister decided she wanted to roam about to discover new trees to climb in the back yard, and wouldn't let the fact that I thought it was a terrible idea hold her back, I shrugged and retreated to the glorious, dry, clean indoors for my own adventures. With 5 bookshelves w e were never short of so