“I’m involved mostly in making people more aware of the different kinds of books that are out there. When I say African literature, I mean literature from all over the world that’s written by people of African descent. So, we know that people were stolen from Africa hundreds of years ago who are still producing content in the Caribbean and in the Americas. We know that there are Africans living everywhere in the world now as well, and they are also producing content. But, there are also people on the African continent itself who are producing content. And even though, when we think of literature often people think “oh it’s just books” and I’m like, yes I started off with “just books”, but I’m also a spoken word artist and a storyteller, and a lot of our books were written as a way of preserving our oral traditions, so you know….you can’t limit it to the just the written word, you also have to include the spoken word.”
Sista Zai Zanda was interviewed as a part of our Creative Lives project, highlighting the work of CALD artists. She is a storyteller, educator and radio producer. She hosts and curates the Pan Afrikan Poets Cafe, which holds performances by African and First Nations poets, singers, emcees, writers and actors. This project celebrates Africa’s rich literary legacy, and simultaneously pays respect to First Nations peoples. She talks about this project, and what it means for an environment to truly be diverse.
Learn more about Sista Zai here.
Video by Maylei Hunt, a social documentary photographer specialising in dance and portraiture with a community and arts focus.
Interview by Margaret Mayhew, Melbourne-based academic and artist. She has a PhD in Gender and Cultural Studies as well as undergraduate degrees in Science, Visual Arts and Art History. She is a teacher, trainer, speaker, and community engagement expert.