Africa Writes is back!

Friday 30 June – Sunday 2 July 2017
Brought to you by The Royal African Society


From Friday 30 June to Sunday 2 July we’ll be bringing together over 60 of the most influential voices in contemporary writing from Africa and its diaspora for an exciting summer weekend. Highlighting the themes of language, archives, ownership amongst many others, Africa Writes brings you a weekend packed with ideas and inspiration.

Headline events

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!
Weekend events

Panel discussions
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 processes and politics and 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.

Launch events
Africa Writes 2017 book and poetry collection launches include the new non-fiction work by Helon HabilaThe 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.


Image: Yellow by Amaal Said