Africa Writes 2017 Review: A Celebration of African Literature and Culture with Music and Words

30th June to 2nd July 2017 the British Library played host to Africa Writes: for three days writers, poets, scholars and literature fans joined together to deliver an amazing festival of African culture, heritage, literature and cuisine.

With a keen eye for emerging talents and the passion, dedication and inspiring words of African most loved writers and storytellers, the event focused on celebrating and sharing the invaluable perks of the continent and its people.

Africa Writers (organized by the Royal African Society in collaboration with a host of other organizations and institutions) explored with masterful depth the future of publishing, the processes and politics of translation and discussed literary collaborations and innovation. Through a participative format, talks, readings and workshops it uncovered the history of East African kanga textile, Krio heritage and culture of Sierra Leone.

During its Saturday sessions, the event played a crucial role in promoting young talents with Africa Writes: Young Voices showcase, that presented the creative writing of young people resulting from several months of workshops across London schools. On Saturday day, the pure storytelling-magic was on at the Library thanks to the incredible Dreams and Deceptions, a night of wanders and poetic splendour.

The final day of the event celebrated the valuable works and incredible life of Buchi Emecheta, who sadly passed away last February, but whose legacy will be treasured by writers, readers and scholars both in her native Lagos and the UK.

The event was enhanced by talks, roundtables, workshops and readings (Kayo Chingonyi, JJ Bola, Helon Habila and several recipients of the 2017 Caine Prize read their works), a diverse and various book sale, and a photography exhibition curated in collaboration with Autograph ABP. On Sunday afternoon the notorious Mostly Lit, in conversation with the audience, explored the intersection of literature and black culture and the many shades and issues that surround the notions of identity and language both in the literary world and in real life.

For the first time this year, Africa Writes hosted R.A.P Party, the Rhythm and Poetry Party, a nostalgic, no-clutter, straight-up evening of hip hop inspired poems and songs. Fatimah Kelleher, Kei Miller and Inua Ellams among others delighted the audience with their works.

Alain Mabanckou, the prolific Francophone Congolese poet and novelist (African Psycho, Broken Glass and Memoirs of a Porcupine) gloriously closed the festival in conversation with Mahdu Krishnan, discussing language, style and politics, humor, inspiration and philosophical questions as tools in his works.

Africa Writes was a joyful celebration of Africa, its traditions, languages, history, people and heritage, and the audience was surrounded by an eclectic and vibrant atmosphere, incredibly talented people, diverse and multicultural vibes, and delicious food, masterfully prepared by the famous Zoe Adjonyoh’s Ghana Kitchen, who’s promoting her newly published book Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen.

Africa Writes is taking to the road to celebrate and discusses African Literature in England, Scotland and Wales. For more info and tickets please visit the website: http://africawrites.org/   

Twitter: @AfricaWritesUK     

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