26 has donated suitcase-loads of nice, new books for prizes and school libraries for young people in Zambia. 26’s gift is part of a yearly PEN Zambia writing workshop headed by Nicholas Kawinga. Prize night is on the 28th in Lusaka.
A while ago, some of us 26ers got involved with PEN International. We helped them with their brand language and their literary festival at London’s Southbank. We co-launched some special projects such as 26 Exchanges, a writing collaboration that crossed borders all over the planet, and 26:50, marking 50 years of the Writers in Prison Committee.
Somewhere along the way, I met Nicholas Kawinga, the poet-dramatist-teacher who heads up PEN Zambia. He teaches and inspires people to write. He uses community drama to throw light on HIV and other pressing issues. He writes poetry that makes your heart sing.
Nicholas wrote to me recently about PEN Zambia’s annual creative writing workshop for young people. He was looking for sponsors or prizes. Nothing online, as most of the kids can’t get anywhere near the internet. We agreed on a stash of books for prizes and school libraries. Yes, physical books, the sort that are made of paper and print.
Thanks to generous donations from 26ers and a non-26er writer-friend (you know who you are), we gathered together a heaving box-load of nice new books to send to Zambia. The DHL courier fee was paid by 26.
The books arrived, safe and sound. The gratitude across the seas was palpable. The books will go into various school libraries. And some will be used as prizes. 28th September is prize night in Lusaka.