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Hello Londoners, no excuse for being lonely this weekend—June 29 to July 1.  Get your book totes and comfortable shoes ready because London is about to host its annual African literary extravaganza known as Africa Writes Festival.  In less than three days, 60+ writers from the continent and the Diaspora will convene at the British Library and Rich Mix to participate in discussion panels, launch new books, and lead masterclasses.

Africa Writes Festival, sponsored by the Royal African Society, has become a major culture powerhouse. The weekend-long event enriches the cultural experience of the city and creates a space where writers and readers can meet to share ideas about African literature and culture. This year’s theme explores the lives and writings of queer and womxn writers in African literature.

The line up of events are mouthwatering. The festival opens on June 29th with Yomi Sode’s one-man show titled COAT, which explores the complexities of growing up in London in a Nigerian immigrant family. The following night, a band of visionary poets—The Octavia Poetry Collective—will host a Wakanda-themed evening of poetry, music and dancing into the night. Expect to see pretty much all your favorite poets: Theresa Lola, Momtaza Mehri, Sarah Lasoye, Victoria Adukwei Bulley, Hibaq Osman, Rachel Long, Belinda Zhawi, and Amina Jama.

Note: Warshan Shire’s lecture has been postponed to January 2019. [click here for more details]

All through the day on Saturday and Sunday there will be back-to-back events. Make sure to attend book launches. They are good for meeting your favorite authors and keeping up on new writing from the continent. Roundtables have experts leading lively discussions about relevant issues. The are enriching and informative. You don’t have to come by yourself. There are events for children so bring the whole family along.

FYI: tickets are moving really fast. Events are getting sold out pretty quickly. Make sure to get your tickets sooner than later.  A quick word on tickets.  Friday and Saturday passes each costs £12, but £18 will get you a weekend pass. Tickets get you into all the events, except the three headlining events and some masterclasses. Those are priced separately. [Book HERE]

By the way, book lovers, bring a couple of sturdy totes because you are going to want to visit the Book Fair and cart away as much books as your pocket can afford.

Meanwhile, take a look at the full program HERE. If you need help deciding what to see, here is a list of what we highly recommend.

Books, Writers, and Hot Topics:

Elsewhere, Home by Leila Aboulela: 16:45 – 17:15 A new collection from the awardwinning novelist. Intimate stories of longing and exile from Khartoum to London, the Gulf to Aberdeen.

Hargeysa Breeze poetry collection: 17:15 – 18:45 Launching the  Breeze poetry collection from Somaliland with Mpalive Msiska, Martin Orwin, W. N. Herbert and Jama Musse Jama.

The Hundred Wells of Salaga by Ayesha Harruna Attah: 13:30 – 14:00 UK launch of Attah’s third novel. Immerse yourself in the rhythms, relationships, desires and struggles in women’s lives in 19th century Ghana.

The Making and Re-making of Zimbabwe 11:30 – 12:45 Discussing history, memory and inventive new ways of telling the nation’s story with writers Novuyo Rosa Tshuma and Panashe Chigumadzi.

Loving Womxn: Deliberate and Afraid of Nothing 13:00 – 14:15 Queer womxn’s narratives in Africa and the diaspora with Phyll OpokuGyimah, Bibi Bakare-Yusuf, Trifonia Melibea Obono and Liv Little

2018 Caine Prize Conversation 17:30 – 18:45 Meet the shortlisted writers Nonyelum Ekwempu, Stacy Hardy, Olufunke Ogundimu, Makena Onjerika, and Wole Talabi.

Master Classes and Writers’ Recourses: 

Meet the Publishers 13:45 – 15:15 Come and pitch your work, and hear industry insider tips with Candice Carty-Williams, Layla Mohamed, Sharmaine Lovegrove and Aki Schilz.

Africa in Translation Masterclass 14:30 – 16:30 | £15, £12 For budding and seasoned translators interested in African literary translation, with Wangui wa Goro, SIDENSI. To book, email ras_events@soas.ac.uk.

Small Magazines, Literary Networks & Self-Fashioning in Africa and the Diaspora 12:30 – 13:45 Exploring magazines in contemporary African literary culture with AFREADA & Bakwa Magazine.

Progressive Pasts: The Afrofuturist Ideologies of Black Panther in Literature, Art and Fashion 12:00 – 13:30 Interactive workshop with Ifeanyi Awachie and Moha Lami Audu (FUNCTION) & Ziki Nelson (Kugali)

Books In Your Ears: On Literary Podcasts 14:00 – 15:15 With contributors from Not Another Book Podcast, Bakwacast, No Bindings, 2 Girls & A Pod and Africa in Words.

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Ainehi Edoro is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she teaches African literature. She received her doctorate at Duke University. She is the founder and editor of Brittle Paper and series editor of Ohio University Press’s Modern African Writer’s imprint.

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