Let us protect our rights, says Pen International


Pen International has called on its centres, including Malawi, to stand together to protect their rights.
Pen International Deputy Executive Director, Romana Caccioli, said this on Tuesday at Blantyre Sports Club during a reception for the week-long training workshop in project management for African Pen centres involved in its civil society programme.
“We need to stand together to protect our rights. Pen is an important movement which has, among others, writers, bloggers, poets, publishers and translators. We need to stand together to protect each other no matter where we are,” Cacchioli said.
She called on centres to come out and offer their support whenever they are asked to take action.
“There are writers, poets, bloggers, translators and publishers who are in countries where the situation is not healthy so we need to stand together. In Malawi, the situation is different but you never know,” she said.
Cacchioli hailed Pen Malawi for hosting the workshop.
“We are happy to be here and we thank Pen Malawi for making us feel at home and this is really the Warm Heart of Africa,” she said.
Cacchioli said Pen International has grown, adding that, in three years’ time, it will be celebrating its centenary.
The week-long workshop in project management for African Pen centres involved in its civil society programme started on Tuesday and ends on Saturday.
Cacchioli said Pen International promotes literature and defends freedom of expression around the world.
The body was founded in 1921 and its global community of writers spans more than 100 countries, with 150 Pen centres worldwide.
Some of Pen’s members have included renowned writers such as Chinua Achebe, Margaret Atwood and Wole Soyinka.
The facilitators of the training have been drawn from Pen International headquarters in London and participants include Gambia, Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Kenya, Uganda and Malawi.
Pen Malawi President, Alfred Msadala, who was last Sunday decorated with a Lifetime Achiever Award during the inaugural Warm Heart Poetry Festival held in Blantyre, said the reception was organised to promote interaction.
“Pen Malawi is happy to host the training workshop. We want the international delegates to feel the friendship of Malawians,” Msadala said.
Councillor Getrude Chirambo, who represented Mayor of the City of Blantyre Wild Ndipo, welcomed international delegates and asked them to network with writers in the country.
“I would like to congratulate Pen Malawi for hosting this international workshop. To international delegates, [I say] feel at home and enjoy the beauty of this oldest city as well as share experiences. We all know how mightier the pen is; so, utilise the time,” Chirambo said.
Folu Agoi from Nigeria said he has failed to attend other workshops but he was happy to be part of the training workshop in Malawi.
“I am grateful to be part of the workshop and the warm welcome we have been given. Malawi is, indeed, the Warm Heart of Africa,” Agoi, who recited two poems, said.
The event— which saw performances from, among others, Msadala and musician Rebecca Mwalwenje— was also patronised by veteran writers such as Willie Zingani.

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