Africa's literary festivals have become cultural events that feature best-selling African writers and attracting audiences from around the world. They have been gaining in popularity over the past decade and have made significant contributions in the growth of readership across the continent through their community youth initiatives. We celebrate our rich heritage through literature, music, and poetry, and these festivals are aimed at inspiring greatness and offering exposure to talent. Like any calendar event, Book festivals are sought after by those with a love for reading. Writers from all over Africa are invited to these events to meet and greet readers, discuss their books, and offer insight into the writing process. These events are havens for avid readers and aspiring writers. However, the year 2020 turned out to be an unfortunate year for large gatherings due to the Covid19 pandemic, and many of the festivals slated for the first half of the year were either cancelled, postponed, or held virtually. Although we still have those that are slated for the other half of the year, there are still some that are planned to be held online. These digital events are proving to be a force because they are able to reach a wider audience and can be held over a longer period with increased frequency. So avid readers, to help you prepare for these events, I put together a list of the events in chronological order so you don't miss out on the fun. I hope you make it to some of these, virtually or otherwise. Enjoy!
Open Book Festival - Capetown, South Africa
Dates - 2 - 6th September 2020
This festival would have been held this week at the Fugard Theatre in the city of Cape Town, SA. But due to the Coronavirus pandemic, it is yet another big event we are to miss. However, all is not lost; In place of the book festival, The Open Book Festival has announced the launch of the Open Book Podcast Series. The series will begin on the 19th of October and will run for four weeks. These will be a series of podcasts featuring international and local South African authors. The line up will be announced soon, so be sure to check it out here.
Gaborone Book Festival - Gaborone, Botswana
Dates: 17 - 19 September 2020
The Gaborone Book Festival is held annually in the month of September. The 2019 festival was a success and it promises growth for the festival. They introduced an Indigenous Writing master class last year, which was a success and they also saw numbers of their Student Zone increased from the previous year. The Festival will be held from the 17th to the 19th of September.
The Quramo Festival of Words - Victoria Island, Lagos, Nigeria
Dates: 2 - 4 October 2020
The Quramo Festival of Words is an annual literary and arts festival that celebrates the power of words as a medium of expression. The festival is mainly sponsored by Quramo Publishing, which is an independent media company that publishes works for a wide range of audiences that includes academic and children's books. This year's theme at QFest will be "Creativity Reset - The Future of Words". This year, due to the pandemic cautionary restrictions, the festival will be held virtually.
Pa Gya Literary Festival - Accra, Ghana
Dates: 16 - 18 October 2020
The Writers Project of Ghana holds a literary festival called the Pa Gya Literary Festival annually in October. They have several writers' workshops during the festival which are well sought after. The workshops are free but applications include a two-page sample of your writing and a 300-word bio because spaces are limited. This year's festival dates have not been announced yet, meanwhile do look out for their online events and public reading events here.
Ake Arts & Book Festival - Lagos, Nigeria
Dates: 22 - 25 October 2020
The Ake Arts & Book Festival is now in its 8th year of promoting, developing, and celebrating African creativity. The festival is organized by The Book Buzz Foundation. The festival has a series of events that include; poetry performances, panel discussions, workshops, and theatre. They have a bookstore that stocks books by African writers and books about Africa. The Ake Festival runs for four days.
Lagos International Poetry Festival - Lagos, Nigeria
Dates: 1 October - 1 November 2020
The Lagos International Poetry Festival is in its sixth year. This year's theme is; "Love & Light, and other cliches" and it will run from October 1st to November 1st, 2020. Dubbed the #LIPFest2020, the festival will be a month-long virtual experience in response to safety precautions laid out for Covid19. The guests and programme will be announced soon. Look out for the information here.
Poetry Africa - Durban, South Africa
Dates: 12 - 17 October 2020
The Centre for Creative Arts at the University of Kwazulu-Natal, in Durban, SA presents Poetry Africa annually, and this year they will be presenting their 24th edition. Poetry Africa 2020 will be a six-day affair that will include poetry exchanges, book launches, open mic sessions, and slam jam sessions at venues across the city of Durban.
Abantu Book Festival - Soweto, South Africa
Dates: 3 - 6 December 2020
The Abantu Book Festival will be having its 5th edition this year. It has yet to confirm the format of the event. Meanwhile, preparations are underway and it looks like the festival will be right on schedule. Their festival pop-up bookstore has evolved into its own independent entity that stocks thousands of books by African writers from all over Africa and the world. To be on top of things at this year's Abantu Festival, get copies of books that will be in discussion here.