The Royal African Society’s inaugural literature and book festival took place in London on Saturday 30 June and Sunday 1 July in the School of Oriental and African Studies SOAS, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG.
Introduction from Richard Dowden
Africa is changing fast; politically, economically, socially, culturally. In art, music, film and literature, there is a flowering of imagination, ideas and genres – whole new ways of feeling about Africa and expressing its griefs and joys. So we at RAS have organised this celebration of new writing which also looks back to that first flowering of African literature with the establishment of the African Writers Series 50 years ago. We believe African writers have again reached new heights. We hope that from now on Africa Writes will become an annual fixture in the London calendar of African events.
About Africa Writes
Promoting contemporary African writing and writers, every year Africa Writes will showcase established and emerging literary talent from the continent and the Diaspora during a weekend-long series of events, including book launches, readings, panel discussions, children’s workshops and other activities. The festival will also feature a two-day international book fair for publishers of African writing and an outdoor pan-African food market with dishes from around the continent.
About the RAS
The Royal African Society is Britain’s prime Africa organisation with more than a century of in-depth knowledge and experience of the continent and its peoples. We foster a better understanding of Africa in the UK and throughout the world, exploring the continent’s history, politics, culture, problems and potential. We disseminate knowledge and insight to make a positive difference to Africa’s development and celebrate the diversity and depth of African culture.
AFRICAN BOOKS COLLECTIVE
ABC is a collective of 136 independent African publishers, from 24 countries, owned and governed by the founder publishers. Its mission is to disseminate Africa’s wealth of scholarly and literary works through Africa’s own voice from the continent. It is a social enterprise, non-profit itself, returning sales remittances to Africa to strengthen the indigenous publishing industry. Over 2000 titles are stocked, marketed and distributed worldwide. Titles are mainly English language, and also include works in African languages – Afrikaans, Igbo, Ndebele, Sheng, Shona, Swahili; and French and Portuguese. In addition to print editions, select titles are available as e-books.
THE BLACK READING GROUP & BLACK BOOK NEWS BLOG
The Black Reading Group, now in its 12th year, is London’s longest running reading group for people with an African heritage from all over the world. It meets on the last Sunday of each month to read and discuss books by anyone who writes about Africa, the Caribbean or the black experience in Europe or the US. Tricia Wombell has been the co-ordinator of the Black Reading Group since 2010. She is the founder of the blog Black Book News. Alongside book reviews and interviews with authors, the blog features news and forthcoming events of interest for anyone with a passion for black literature. She recently compiled the first ever list of the best 50 Black British authors.
THE CAINE PRIZE FOR AFRICAN WRITING
The Caine Prize for African Writing is named in celebration of the late Sir Michael Caine, former Chairman of Booker plc, who was Chairman of the ‘Africa 95’ arts festival in Europe and Africa in 1995 and for nearly 25 years Chairman of the Booker Prize management committee. Shortly before he died, Sir Michael Caine was working on the idea of a prize to encourage the growing recognition of the worth of African writing in English, its richness and diversity, by bringing it to a wider audience. His friends and colleagues decided to carry this idea forward and establish a prize of £10,000 to be awarded annually in his memory. The first prize was awarded in 2000. As he intended, the Caine Prize is open to writers from anywhere in Africa for work published in English. Its focus is on the short story, as reflecting the contemporary development of the African story-telling tradition.
THE CENTRE OF AFRICAN STUDIES, UNIVERSITY OF LONDON
James Currey, now an imprint of Boydell & Brewer, specializes in publishing academic research on Africa. Dedicated to distributing books about Africa, in Africa, we are noted for getting authors’ books around the continent through African co-publishing and direct marketing. US distribution is via Boydell and Brewer Inc. Backlist titles are available through POD and we have a growing e-book programme. Sign up for our Newsletter, African Griot. Visit our website or come and discuss proposals at our stand.
THE LONDON AFRO-CARIBBEAN BOOK CLUB
Jacqueline Auma set up the London Afro-Caribbean Book Club in 2009 . This is a book club for anyone who shares a passion for reading books by authors of African heritage or books that explore the current state of affairs of people of African origin all over the world. The group meets once a month within central London and occasionally invite authors to come discuss their works.
Pearson is the world’s leading learning company. It helps educate millions of people worldwide by providing teachers, educators and students of all ages with essential materials, technologies and assessment tools. Pearson has three operating groups: The Penguin Group, Pearson Education and The Financial Times Group. In May 2008, the African Writers Series joined the Pearson family. As part of Pearson’s commitment to promoting the best in African publishing, new editions of some of the most notable works in the series are now being published alongside completely new works.
SABLE LitMag is a black and white cultural publication for writers of colour to showcase their work in any genre. It provides readers with an opportunity to discover new work by internationally renowned and new writers within a format and design that is aesthetically as important as the written word. ‘Art is the heArt of a nation,’ and therefore, our ethos is based on using Art as a means to build strong communities. We aim to show how the literary arts can be used effectively to promote cultural understanding and social cohesion in communities and across borders. is a black and white cultural publication for writers of colour to showcase their work in any genre. It provides readers with an opportunity to discover new work by internationally renowned and new writers within a format and design that is aesthetically as important as the written word. ‘Art is the heArt of a nation,’ and therefore, our ethos is based on using Art as a means to build strong communities. We aim to show how the literary arts can be used effectively to promote cultural understanding and social cohesion in communities and across borders.
TEDXEuston is an independently organized event produced by a team of African professionals under licence from TED. Since 2009, we have each year presented a diverse range of vibrant speakers from the arts, business and the public sector sharing stories and inspiring new ideas about Africa to an audience in London. On 1st December 2012, the 4th event will feature 13 amazing speakers, who are challenging conventional wisdom on the continent. From the arts, business and public life – you will not find a more exciting mix of speakers focusing on Africa anywhere else in 2012.
THE SCHOOL OF ORIENTAL AND AFRICAN STUDIES
MEDIA PARTNER: THE AFRICA CHANNEL
The Africa Channel is the premier general entertainment network, delivering award-winning content inspired by Africa. Our rich mix of bold, high quality programming includes a wide range of genres, from drama and documentaries, films and live news, to lifestyle and wildlife. The Africa Channel is enjoyed by a diverse, cosmopolitan audience. The Africa Channel is available on Sky channel 268 until July 2nd, and on Sky channel 209 from July 3rd 2012.