Africa Writes is one undoubtedly of my favourite annual events to attend! It usually has an exciting line up of authors, interesting discussions and a variety of events that are tailored towards lovers of African literature. I was only able to attend on Sunday because I procrastinated in getting a weekend pass.
I started the day by going to the session with JJ Bola and Olumide Popoola where they both read from their books, No Place to Call Home and When We Speak of Nothing. Readings are one of my favourite parts of Africa Writes and it’s always interesting to hear authors read their books as it’s a completely different experience to the dialogue in my mind when I read the book. In contrast with Olumide, I was familiar with JJ Bola before the festival mainly because he is a well-known figure on the British Poetry scene. I’m definitely looking forward to getting copies of their books when I’m off my self-imposed ban.
The second event for me was on Publishing in Africa and Reaching Readers. This was definitely eye opening and I didn’t realise how underdeveloped the publishing scene is, in some countries on the African continent. The panellists hailed from Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda so it was interesting to hear about some of the challenges they face and the solutions that are being created to tackle these. I can’t remember which country it was but the lady mentioned that there were only five bookstores in the entire country!
The main reason why I attended Africa Writes this year was because of the Mostly Lit Live session. If you are unfamiliar with Mostly Lit, it is a weekly podcast show hosted by Alex, Rai and Derek who explore the intersection of literature and black culture. I struggled to get into the podcasts and stopped after two or three episodes, but I thought the live session was brilliant! The topic was on ‘Writing Blackness’, so the discussion touched on slang, the accessibility that language brings, the categorization of black writing and blackness in the workplace. I found the session funny, interactive and thoroughly enjoyed it!
Overall whilst I had a great time, this was probably not my favourite year. I also managed to leave the festival without buying a book so I guess I’m doing well on the whole self-discipline thing. Below are some tweets that I’ve curated to give you more insight into the weekend.