It was so important to get away and breathe. I wouldn’t have been able to relax sufficiently to finish my novel, This Mournable Body without that time at Bellagio—and of course it’s now gone on to be quite a success.Tsitsi DangarembgaWriter, Filmmaker, Director, Cultural Activist, Teacher, Social Entrepreneur
I was there for a month. We had scientists, medics, artists—it was fascinating to be among people from such different professional backgrounds. There was Xavier Alpasa, a Catholic priest from the Philippines, and as a Christian myself it was refreshing to have deep theological discussions in such an increasingly secular age. Ann Marie Kimball, an epidemiologist who pioneered electronic surveillance of diseases, told me about her work across Africa, which was interesting then and doubly so now in the age of Covid. There was Jeffery Renard Allen, the African-American novelist, and we discussed the need to promote both African and African-American narrative—he recently interviewed me for his website, and TK TK. And there was Victor Ehikhamenor too, a Nigerian visual artist, whose work I just fell in love with. The whole intellectual climate was so stimulating. I was energized, and did get a lot of work done.
Someone said to me, “Tsitsi, when you arrived you looked like a nervous wreck, but you’ve relaxed into a normal person again.” It was so important to get away, and breathe. I wouldn’t have been able to relax sufficiently to finish my novel, This Mournable Body without that time at Bellagio—and of course it’s now gone on to be quite a success. I’m still writing my dystopian YA novel. It normally takes me around three drafts to even know what I’m writing about, so of course I’m now on my seventh draft, but I finally think this one’s clean enough to send to my agent. Both my scripts are done, too, and I’m looking for production funds for those.
I needed a break, and Bellagio gave me that break. It gave me confidence and renewed trust that things can happen when you need them to.
We’d like to thank Tsitsi for her continuing contribution to the network. She continues to search for funding for her most recent film project, and can be contacted via her agent.
You can watch Thandi Newton read an excerpt from This Mournable Body, and hear novelist Sara Collines talk about why she enjoyed the book so much.
Find out more about the Institute of Creative Arts for Progress in Africa, which was founded by Tsitsi.
You may also want to connect with Tsitsi on Twitter.
About the Bellagio Center
Since 1959 The Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center has hosted thousands of artists, policymakers, scholars, authors, practitioners, and scientists from all over the world enabling them time and space to work, to learn from each other, and to turn ideas into actions that change the world. To learn more about the Bellagio Center’s Residency and Convening programs visit The Rockefeller Foundation’s website: https://www.rockefellerfoundation.org/bellagio-center/.
Welcome to the first edition of the Bellagio Bulletin, where you can find stories about what happened because of Bellagio, experience a bit of the magic, and understand the impact that the Center’s distinguished alumni are having in the world. In this first edition, you’ll find the origin story of a collaboration between a New […]More