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Literary conference in Delhi from Feb 14

Over forty renowned writers from 19 countries will be attending next week's Literary Conference, reports Ami Dalal.

india Updated: Feb 08, 2006 16:54 IST

In a bid to trace cultural and literary links between the countries of Asia and Africa, a literary conference titled "Continents of Creation: Legacy, Identity, and Assertion" will be held in New Delhi from February 14.

The three-day conference will host over40 writers from nineteen countries and is sponsored by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR).

The conference seeks to "recall the solidarity that the Bandung Conference created between Asian and African countries," announced Pavan Varma, former Press Secretary to the President of India and Joint Secretary for Africa, when he launched the conferenceonTuesdayafternoon.

The Bandung Conference of 1955 was organised by the newly-independent Asian and African states of Egypt, Indonesia, Burma, Sri Lanka, India, and Pakistan. The conference aimedto promote Afro-Asian economic and cultural cooperation and to oppose colonialism or neo-colonialism. Twenty-nine countries representing over half the world's population sent delegates.

According to Varma, one of the political myths perpetuated is that once a nation reaches independence from colonialism, the impact on people ends and a new era immediately begins.

"The truth is that when people have been mentally and physically colonised for a period of time," continued Varma, "it continues to influence the way people see themselves and the way people want the world to see them."

The literary conference will discuss the contemporary search for identity and, within this search, formulate methods of assertion. "We too need a form of expression and a place to be heard," declared Varma, "in a world where there is a certain amount of cultural asymmetry."

Malayalee poet K Satchidanandan spoke of the difficulty of articulating a coherent identity in "countries with polymorphic traditions." Satchidanandan is one of the twenty Indian writers invited to the conference.

Most of the writers gathered for the conference are from former Asian and African colonies. Africa is represented by ten writers from countries including Somalia, Egypt, and Ghana and the remaining thirteen are from Asian countries such as Indonesia, Japan, and the Philippines.

Over eight sessions, the writers will discuss themes of identity, cultural asymmetry, homelessness, and legacy at Neemrana Fort, situated 126 km outside of Delhi. Professors and students from local universities in Delhiare also invited to attend the conference.

Distinguished writers to attend the conference include Indira Goswami, winner of India's highest literary award, Jnanpith, and leader of the 11-member peace panel between the Government and ULFA; Nuruddin Farah, author of Maps and exiled from Somalia after the government condemned his writing; and Selina Hossain, Bangladeshi author of over twenty-one novels and winner of a Ford Foundation Fellowship for her book Gayatri Sandhya.