Story Club FM
8 Jun 2023
"I am a stay-home wife; a writer; a freelance editor - currently book doctoring an autobiographical work for a client; and an occasional tailor." Yanjanani.
Lilongwe, Malawi - Yanjanani L. Banda, a talented writer hailing from Malawi, has been announced as one of the recipients of The Literary Laddership for Emerging African Authors 2023. The prestigious fellowship, established by Nigerian fantasy writer and academic Suyi Davies Okungbowa, aims to support and elevate emerging fiction authors of Black and/or African descent on the African continent.
Banda, along with Gabrielle Emem Harry from Calabar, Nigeria, was selected as this year's winners from a pool of 55 applications spanning several African countries, including Ghana, Kenya, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, South Africa, and Tanzania. The judging panel carefully reviewed the submissions, considering elements such as storytelling, language and structure, style, approach, themes, and genre.
In an exclusive interview with Story Club FM, Yanjanani L. Banda expressed her excitement and gratitude for being recognized for her work. "I follow all kinds of online literary magazines and writers, so [The Literary Laddership] was something under my radar since last year," Banda shared. "When I saw the post on Brittle Paper that applications were open for this year, I figured why not give it a try. I'm always on the lookout for opportunities to learn and perfect my craft. Thank God this one worked out!"
The Literary Laddership Program for Emerging African Authors offers a three-month period of support, during which recipients receive guidance from established authors and publishers to refine their sample manuscripts or pursue other literary endeavors. The program aims to foster growth and introduce writers to a wider community of resources and insights.
Reflecting on the significance of the award, Banda expressed her aspirations to further develop her writing talent. "For me, it is an opportunity to become even just a little bit better at what I consider my God-given talent," she explained. "In writing, there are a lot of times where you are filled with doubt, wondering if the work you are producing is good enough. So, I am proud to have this opportunity, but also nervous because I want to do well."
When asked about the state of the Malawian writing scene, Banda acknowledged its potential for growth. "I think it is quite lacking, which also just means there's a lot of potential," she remarked. "There are platforms like Makewana's Daughters and events such as the competition run by Pemphero Mphande that are bringing alive that spirit of writing. There's great potential here, and as individuals, we must also choose to do our part."
Looking ahead, Banda shared her aspirations as a writer, expressing her desire to publish a novel, a short story collection, and potentially a poetry collection. She also emphasized the importance of perseverance and advised fellow writers in the country to write every day, embrace rejections as learning experiences, and seek honest feedback from trusted sources.
Although Banda has primarily published her work on international platforms, she expressed her willingness to contribute to the local literary landscape. "When I started out in my writing, one of the key things for me was 'Where are Malawian writers on the international scene?'" Banda explained. "I have tried to submit to newspapers here in Malawi a couple of times. Recently, I did submit a poem to a newspaper, but I never even got acknowledgment of it being received, so I guess I moved on."
Yanjanani L. Banda's educational background includes completing her A-Levels and a diploma in Leadership, Entrepreneurship, and African Studies at the African Leadership Academy in South Africa. She holds a BA Degree in Study of Women and Gender & Comparative Literature from Smith College in Massachusetts. Banda also pursued a Master's Degree in Political Science and Diplomacy at Pusan National University in South Korea.
As Yanjanani L. Banda continues her literary journey and represents Malawi on the global stage, she serves as an inspiration to aspiring writers in the country, encouraging them to embrace their unique stories and perspectives. With her talent and dedication, Banda is poised to make a lasting impact on the African literary landscape.