Africa Writes 2016


Africa Writes is the Royal African Society’s annual literature festival. Celebrating its 5th year, Africa Writes 2016 will bring together over 50 authors, poets, publishers and experts for a stimulating and exciting three days! Every year we showcase established and emerging talent from the African continent and its diaspora in what is now the UK’s biggest celebration of contemporary African writing taking place over an exciting summer weekend. The festival features book launches, readings, author appearances, panel discussions, youth and children’s workshops, and other activities.

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Image Credit: Africa in Translation, Cameris

Africa in Translation: Memory and Re-membering
Friday 1 July

10.00 – 13.00 FREE

This year, our annual symposium aims to explore the place of translation in the contested spaces of memory and re-membering, and its impact on society.  We look into the meaning of ‘the African body’ across time and space, and into the place of literature in cross-cultural scholarship, writing, reading, translation, publishing and performance.

Featuring Veronique Tadjo, Kama Sywor Kamanda, Abdilatif Abdalla, Roland Glasser, Ida Hadjivayani and others to be announced.

The symposium is curated by Wangui wa Goro and Bekisizwe Goro of SIDENSI with support from Afrikult, Birkbeck College, the Igbo Conference and AFFORD.


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Image Credit: Africa Writes 2015, Benjamin Elwyn

Fresh Perspectives on African Literature

Friday 1 July

14.00 – 15.30 FREE

Presenting exciting new scholarship from PhD students, early career scholars and independent researchers that opens up ideas of, and approaches to, ‘African literatures’. Chair: Rebecca Jones

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Image Credit: Meet the Publishers, Big Stock

Meet the Publishers

Friday 1 July

16.00 – 17.30

Would you like the opportunity to present your work to editors and literary agents for professional feedback? Join our panel of experts as they discuss what they look for when considering new work, share the do’s and dont’s of pitching and other insider tips.

Fri_Sex, Love and Poetry_THE GODDESS COMPLEX_Diriye Osman

Image Credit: The Goddess Complex by Diriye Osman (Aquatic Arabesque).

Sex, Love & Poetry

Friday 1 July 

18.30 – 20.30, £10 /£8/ £7

Join us for an evening of readings and uncensored conversation on sex, love and desire spanning the sexuality spectrum and the African Diaspora experience. With daring work that challenges hetero-normative depictions of love, our guest poets and writers will explore intimacy and romance without taboos or restrictions. Whether you’re straight or queer, trans, black or white – if you’re an adult and curious, this event is for you! With Caleb Femi, Rachel Long, Adam Lowe and SA Smythe. Hosted by Bisi Alimi




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Image Credit: Caine Prize for African Writing 2016, Books Live

2016 Caine Prize Reading Group Event
Saturday 2 July 

11:00 – 12:00 FREE

A closed event for reading group members to meet the short-listed writers and discuss their stories. If you have a reading group that would like to get involved, email ras_events@ In collaboration with the Black Reading Group and African Reading Group (ARG!).

There's no such thing as a black princess

Image Credit: National Reading Day

“There’s no such thing as a Black Princess”: Diversity in Children’s Publishing

Saturday 2 July 

12:00 – 13:15 FREE

How can children see themselves represented in books, as well as having a window into different imagined worlds? Tackling the debate on diversity in characters, stories, and the publishing industry, are writers Veronique Tadjo and Kama Sywor Kamanda, and publishers Bibi Bakare Yusuf and Emma Hopkin.


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Image Credit: Cover of Prince Muntu, Illustration by Izumi Ishikawa

The Prince Muntu, Amana – The Child Who Was a God & Tales of Kamanda by Kama Sywor Kamanda

Saturday 2 July 

13:30-14:00 FREE

The prizewinning Congolese storyteller discusses these three books of enchanting tales, recently translated from French.

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Image Credit: The Woman Next Door, published by Chatto & Windus

The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso

Saturday 2 July 

14:15 – 14:45 FREE

Launch of the latest novel by Barbadian-born writer and architect Yewande Omotoso, who grew up in Nigeria and now lives in South Africa. A wickedly funny story of neighbors and sworn enemies, sharing a garden hedge and plenty of hostility. Across boundaries of race, history and experience, can these two women find a point of connection?

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Image Credit: Blackboard blogging in Liberia, Ambient Accountability

Writing Africa’s Development: Narratives, Agency, Accountability

Saturday 2 July 

15:00 – 16:15 FREE

Who writes the narrative on Africa’s ‘development’ trajectory? From investigative journalism to literary memoirs and travel narratives, how do trends in non-fiction writing affect accountability and a sense of African agency? With Fatimah Kelleher, Emma Dabiri, and Bwesigye Bwa Mwesigire, FT guys – William Wallce? Barnaby Phillips. Chair: Eliza Anyangwe.

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Image Credit: Caine Prize Logo

The 2016 Caine Prize Conversation

Saturday 2 July 

16:30 – 18:00 FREE

The Caine Prize maps new directions in contemporary African writing. Join the 2016 shortlisted writers Abdul Adan, Lesley Nneka Arimah, Tope Folarin, Bongani Kona and Lidudumalingani.


Nawal El Saadawi for features. Photograph by Felix Clay.

Image Credit: Nawal El Saadawi by Felix Clay

On Being A Woman Writer: Nawal El Saadawi in conversation

Saturday 2 July 

18.30 – 20.30, £10 /£8/ £7

The internationally renowned writer, novelist, psychiatrist and fighter for women’s rights was born in 1931, in a village outside Cairo, and wrote her first novel at the age of 13. Her many books have been translated into over forty languages and include titles such as Woman at Point Zero and Women and Sex, which was banned in Egypt for almost two decades. She reflects on the question of gender and the challenges posed for women within traditional and religious societies.


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Image Credit: Benjamin Elwyn

African Books to Inspire
Sunday 3 July
12:00 – 13:30 FREE
A conversation about books and inspiration with festival guest writers sharing their favourite African literature titles – from classics to new work. Followed by a book swapping session where you bring a copy of one of your favourite works of African literature to share and swap for another! In collaboration with the Black Book Swap.

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Image Credit: Chuma Nwokolo at Africa Writes 2014 by Yves Salmon

How To Spell Naija in 100 Short Stories, vol. 2 by Chuma Nwokolo

Sunday 3 July
We welcome back Chuma Nwokolo to launch the second volume of his successful short story collection. These tales boldly range over Nigeriana, with kidnappers, houseboys, bishops and suicide bombers wrecking domestic and hilarious havoc.


boiling a great plot

Image Credit: 25 new books by African writers you should read, Lithub

Boiling a Great Plot: Contemporary Genre Fiction

Sunday 3 July
14:30 – 15:45 FREE
Writers Leye Adenle, Nikhil Singh and Frances Mensah Williams discuss contemporary work from Africa across the genres of crime writing, international women’s fiction and sci-fi and fantasy.

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Image Credit: Taty Went West cover illustration by Nikhil Singh

Taty Went West by Nikhil Singh
Sunday 3 July

16:00 – 16:30 FREE

Described as a ‘hallucinogenic post-apocalyptic carnival ride’, this debut novel published by Kwani? Trust is no ordinary adventure story. Through genre-shifting prose and 50 illustrations, Nikhil Singh guides the adolescent hero Taty through a unique universe of moustachioed wrestlers, a feline voodoo surgeon and marauding Buddhist Punks. Fresh & original fiction from South Africa.

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Image and copyright: Immigrant play, Joy Gharoro-Akpojotor

The Immigrant

Sunday 3 July

17.30-19.30 £8 /£6/ £5

The Immigrant is a provocative play that explores what the world would look like if Africa was the most powerful continent in the world. Set in 2116, Oliver, a Brit seeking asylum in the African Union is in detention, where he pleads his case to Usman, an African border official, who isn’t fond of immigrants. What ensues is a battle of words and stories neither is truly prepared for. Sometimes what we think of as our truths are also our lies.