Brought to you by The Royal African Society
Join us for an exciting summer weekend at the British Library celebrating the best of contemporary literature from Africa and the diaspora.
Last year we were joined by 67 guest contributors and writers from 18 different countries, and a London audience of nearly 2000 – African literature fans and newcomers alike. This year we have much more in store…check out the Africa Writes website for the full programme and to book your tickets here
We are expanding the festival, with Africa Writes pop-up events taking place in England, Scotland and Wales, and exciting collaborations in Rwanda and Tanzania with the Jalada Mobile Literary & Arts Festival.
We’re kicking off with the R.A.P. (Rhythm And Poetry) party on the evening of Friday 30th June. This evening of hip-hop inspired poems and songs hosted by Inua Ellams and Theresa Lola will feature some remarkable poetic talents, including Malika Booker, Kei Miller, Amaal Said, Yomi Sode and more. Dj Sid Mercutio will be on the decks spinning a mix of afrobeat, funk and afro-house tunes.
On Saturday evening Mara Menzies and Maimouna Jallow will delight us with a story- telling night of dreams and deception through performance adaptations of the written word. And on Sunday our headliner will be the prolific Congolese writer and academic Alain Mabanckou.
The literary ambassador of Congolese sapologie, Alain Mabanckou captivates readers and critics with his rhythmic prose exploring the streets of Congo-Brazaville and the boulevards of Paris. His latest novel, Black Moses, was shortlisted for the Prix Goncourt and long-listed for this year’s Man Booker International Prize. Mabanckou will reflect on his journey as a writer and the politics of language and style. Tickets for these events are already selling fast so make sure to book early!
We look at how publishers in Africa are reaching communities of readers, how writers are making living literary connections across different African languages with Jalada Africa, and how hidden histories in the museums and libraries of London can be uncovered by writers.
Moments of celebration and African literary joy are to be found throughout the festival: we will delve into the archives of the renowned Nigerian writer Buchi Emecheta, discovering photographs, manuscripts and a remarkable personal history of a beloved literary icon, and will come together to discuss her work in the session: African Books to Inspire: Buchi Emecheta Book Club.
Following the annual tradition, you’ll have the chance to meet the shortlisted writers for this year’s Caine Prize for African Writing: Lesley Nneka Arimah (Nigeria), Chikodili Emelumadu (Nigeria), Bushra al-Fadil (Sudan), Arinze Ifeakandu (Nigeria) and Magogodi oaMphela Makhene (South Africa).
Alex Reads, Reckless Rai and Derek W from Mostly Lit – the popular podcast at the intersection of literature, millennial wellness and black pop-culture – will be hosting a live show on ‘Writing Blackness’. The trio will reflect on their own personal experiences and responses to reading black characters as depicted in African and Black British fiction.
Workshops and Roundtables
We uncover the history of the East African kanga textile with an exhibition and sharing session; hear stories about Krio heritage and culture of Sierra Leone, and explore the photographic archive in Black Chronicles: The Missing Chapter. We’ll be discussing the politics of translation, and looking at the profusion of literary events and festivals taking place across the continent.
Budding writers are invited to pitch their work to the industry experts in our lively Meet the Publishers event, and places are also open for a special self-editing masterclass with Ellah Allfrey. On Saturday 1 July, all the family are invited for the free and fun Magic of Storytelling workshops with Mara Menzies.
Africa Writes 2017 book and poetry collection launches include the new non-fiction work by Helon Habila – The Chibok Girls; two exciting debut novels – When We Speak of Nothing by Olumide Popoola; No Place to Call Home by JJ Bola; and two poetry collections – Kumukunda by Kayo Chingonyi and Kingdom of Gravity by Nick Makoha. Also launching at Africa Writes will be transatlantic journal collaboration Jalada Africa 05 / Transition 123, and The Ultimate Tragedy by Abdulai Silá which is the first novel to be translated into English from Guinea-Bissau.
Day Tickets, Weekend Passes and tickets for headline events are available to book on the British Library website or over the phone on +44 (0)1937 546546. More information here.
Africa Writes 2017 in brought to you by the Royal African Society in partnership with the British Library. The festival is made possible through the financial support of Arts Council England, and partnership of the British Council, the Sigrid Rausing Trust, Miles Morland Foundation, and Centre of African Studies, University of London. See all festival partners here.