AFRICA WRITES FESTIVAL 2021
12:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Knowledge Centre, The British Library, 96 Euston Road, London, NW1 2DB
Full Price: £12.00.
Africa Writes, the UK’s largest celebration of contemporary African and diaspora literature brought to you by the Royal African Society, returns from 4 – 24 October 2021 with a blended programme of online and in-person events at the British Library and 180 The Strand.
From 4 – 24 October we’ll be bringing together over 20 of the most influential and fresh voices in contemporary writing from Africa and its diaspora, for the ninth edition of Africa Writes! This exciting programme features writers from Egypt, Ghana, Jamaica, Kenya, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Uganda, South Africa, UK and USA highlights themes of imagination, pleasure and activism.
Alongside the previously announced headliners, American-Egyptian journalist, activist and author Mona Eltahawy; South African visual artist and performer Sethembile Msezane; and British-Jamaican poet Raymond Antrobus, this year’s festival will showcase a wealth of talent from across the globe.
Ghanaian feminist activist and award-winning blogger Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah will be in conversation at the British Library on Saturday 23 October discussing her book The Sex Lives of African Women which draws from interviews conducted over six years with more than 30 Black and Afro-descendant contributors from across the African continent and its global diaspora in Europe, the Americas and the Caribbean. From finding queer community in Egypt to living a polyamorous life in Senegal to understanding the intersectionality of religion and pleasure in Cameroon to choosing to leave relationships that no longer serve them, the book’s stories are as individual and illuminating as the women who share them.
The festival will celebrate two new anthologies at the British Library on Sunday 24 October. Of This Our Country: Acclaimed Nigerian Writers on the Home, Identity and Culture They Know, published on 30 September, is a non-fiction anthology featuring the most acclaimed Nigerian authors writing today detailing their perceptions and reflections of Nigeria. Chikodili Emelumadu,Inua Ellams and Abi Daré will be in person at the British Library at this special event with other contributors joining via filmed readings.
Festival goers will have an exclusive preview of Wild Imperfections: An Anthology of Womanist Poems during the festival weekend at the British Library. Due to be published in November 2021, the book features the work of Black women and womxn poets from Botswana to Brazil where readers encounter ancestors who made love, just for the sake of love, and women who die with each orgasm while attempting to mark the extent of their own humanities.
Leading up to the two-day in-person festival at the British Library will be a vibrant online programme of workshops and events including a dedicated Young Voices programme aimed at young people aged from 6 to 18 years.
Online highlights include:
- A co-curated special edition of Kenya’s AfroQueer Podcast that celebrates queer Africans living, loving, surviving and thriving on the African continent and in it’s diaspora. Join Annette Atieno and award winning author of Lives of Great Men, Chiké Frankie Edozien in conversation on Tuesday 19 October.
- Critically-acclaimed author of Conjure Women Afia Atakora will lead an online workshop and panel dedicated to sci-fi, magic realism and fantasy writers that helps unlock your imagination. In partnership with Ghana’s Pa Gya! A Literary Festival.
- African Argument’s ‘Radical Activism in Africa’ special series, guest edited by the Ugandan radical queer feminist scholar and social justice activist Dr. Stella Nyanzi. The series brings together writers and activists from across the continent – each with their own unique perspective and experience, they interrogate fundamental questions about the nature of radical activism in Africa today.
- Writer, poet, speaker and BBC radio presenter, Salma El-Wardany and award-winning journalist and multi-platform producer for CNN International Aisha Salaudeen joins a panel to discuss centring African women Muslimhood narratives on Saturday 16 October in partnership with the Kaduna Book and Arts Festival in northern Nigeria.
The Africa Writes Young Voices online festival, which runs from 5 – 16 October, features creative writing workshops and writer talks. Young people aged 11 years+ can listen to stories of family, friendship, laughter, magic and peril from Happy Here, which features stories and poems by ten Black British authors illustrated by ten Black British illustrators. Happy Here contributors Patrice Lawrence (author) and Dorcas Magbadelo (illustrator) and former CBBC and Newsround presenter Leah Boleto will be online on Monday 11 October to answer your questions about writing, drawing and the stories you enjoyed hearing about (suitable for 11 years+).
Tickets are now available for the online events and workshops at www.africawrites.org on a Pay What You Can model. Headline events and festival day passes for the two-day in-person festival at the British Library can be booked at www.bl.uk/events/africa-writes-2021.