Shadreck Chikoti, a renowned writer, who is part of this year’s Fall Residency with the International Writing Programme (IWP) at the University of Iowa in United States (US), recently protested at the White House, carrying a placard bearing a message ‘Jane Ansah Must Fall’.
Chikoti, who left the country on August 30 for the 11- week programme, with support from the US Embassy, said he decided to take his message to the White House because the place is a symbol of ultimate freedom of expression.
“People protest in front of the White House every time. People even protest against the views of President Donald Trump in front of the White House,” he said.
Chikoti also said he protested at the White House because he wanted to show the nation that the office of the president was not a licence for oppression, but rather a responsibility to the people.
“As a writer and as a Malawian, I have the responsibility to speak out on some of the challenges facing my country. So, I protested yes to bring to the attention of the world our concerns in Malawi,” he said.
Malawi has been rocked by demonstrations since the announcement of results of the May 21 elections.
Human Rights Defenders Coalition is spearheading the protests in which they are calling for the resignation of Malawi Electoral Commission Chairperson, Jane Ansah, for allegedly mismanaging the elections.
Chikoti is participating in the IWP, which is an international annual forum at the University of Iowa, which brings together emerging literary figures from around the world for an 11-week writer-in-residency programme.
Participants in the IWP Fall Residency spend 11 weeks in Iowa City presenting their work to local audiences, working with students and attending and teaching classes.
The programme enables participants to present their countries’ literatures to US audiences and learn more about the US society and culture.
Chikoti who has been listed by CNN as one of seven must-read African authors, said the programme was huge and that it has benefited many writers.
“We are 27 in total from all over the world including Japan, Singapore, Morroco, Eritrea, Greece, Mexico, Namibia and South Africa,” he said.
The writer has won numerous literary awards including the 2013 Peer Gynt Literary Award for his futuristic novel, Azotus the Kingdom.
Last year, he was nominated by the Africa39 project as one of the most promising African writers under 40.
Chikoti runs Pan African Publishers and Story Club Arts Café in Lilongwe where artists and art fans gather to discuss and celebrate art.
Through the Story Club, Chikoti is also set to hold the Feminart Arts and Book Festival in November this year.