ALINAFE SHINES WITH HOTEL AFRICA
Taking chances in life is a skill most people don’t allow themselves to develop. Most people go through life looking back on opportunities that they could have pursued but they didn’t because they were not willing to take a chance or a risk. The fear of things not going our way or working out has some of us holding on to business ideas, books yet to be published and songs yet to be sung. But what happens when you decide to take a chance?
Alinafe Malonje took a chance and submitted a story for the Short Story Day Africa 2019 Collection called “Hotel Africa”. She wasn’t sure what would come from it but a few months later, she received an email informing her she had made it to the longlist and that her story would be published.
Although a graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and International Relations, she has always had a passion for writing but never took herself seriously as a writer. She didn’t write as much as she would have liked to whilst studying for her degree. But after putting it on the backburner for a while, she started to miss her creative outlet and from that experience she has learnt to not take long hiatuses from writing.
Just last year, she decided to dedicate herself to her craft and do it justice. While attending a workshop organized by Short Story Day Africa, she was challenged with the reasons why there were not many Malawian writers around. The facilitator of the workshop believed that the lack of Malawian writers on the book scene was a result of not submitting our work, publishing our work and not taking chances on ourselves. For Alinafe the problem was a slightly different.
Alinafe remembers trying to write her first novel at 13 years old by hand. She didn’t get around to finishing it, along with a series of other projects she begun but didn’t complete. “It is very easy to be inconsistent with your writing, which is why I feel like the most important part of writing is discipline and dedication, especially when one is going through a season of feeling uninspired, ” she says. Writing regardless of writers’ block and lack of inspiration is difficult but the habit of doing so helps cultivate discipline and intentional growth in a writer. Its important to simply start, you never know when inspiration decides to strike along the way, she adds.
Alinafe’s writings draw inspiration from her real-life experiences. She finds herself writing on womanhood and what it means to be a woman. Consequently, the female characters she portrays in her writing are usually connected to her own coming of age story as a woman. She fuses her stories with the process she has gone through to realize her womanhood, the anger she feels and her passion for Malawian feminism.
She also draws inspiration from the women in her life and the way they have influenced her to taking control of her narrative through writing. She also writes on what it means to be African, mental health and what that means in each phase of her life. Her writing seeks to convey reflection on her feelings, making it a deeply cathartic process she hopes will spark a therapeutic experience in her readers.
During her childhood, her biggest influence was her brother. She would follow him everywhere and mimic everything he did, including writing and poetry. What started as childish amusement soon became an important outlet of expressing herself. She credits her personality and interests to being shaped at home by her parents’ silent but sturdy support. Their understanding of her love for writing and constant encouragement for her to exercise her creative spirit have been beyond her expectations.
At first, she took this support for granted but further along her journey of discovering what writing means to her, she now challenges herself to consistently put pen to paper. She welcomes the pressure from her family’s expectations of her as a reason to work harder, especially since their support has allowed her to pursue her writing career while working. Although she is still in the process of figuring out her niche, in terms of genre, she knows that the heart of her story-telling will continue to be based on connecting her personal stories with that of others.
Nowadays, she writes about things she feels deeply about. Often finding herself amazed at how the mind can weave and create incredible stories the moment she begins writing; the subject matters of her stories will soon be revealed in a short story collection she is working to publish soon.