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L-R: Ayobami Adebayo, Nadifa Mohamed, Margaret Busby, Namwali Serpell, and Bernardine Evaristo. Image by Africa Writes.

Three conversations—with the Nigerian novelist Chigozie Obioma, with the contributors to New Daughters of Africa anthology, and one on poetry—will be the headline events at the 2019 Africa Writes Festival, the UK’s biggest annual African literature spectacle sponsored by the Royal African Society and hosted at the British Library and Rich Mix.

The festival had previously been headlined by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in 2012, Ngugi wa Thiong’o and Mukoma wa Ngugi in 2013, Ama Ata Aidoo in 2014, Ben Okri in 2015, Nawal El Saadawi in 2016, and Alain Mabanckou in 2017. The 2018 headliner, Warsan Shire, pulled out due to illness.

This year’s festival will last from 5 July to 7 July and will feature panels, launches, workshops, and other activities.

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MEET THE HEADLINERS – AFRICA WRITES 2019

Our Bodies Speak Poetry

Friday 5 July, 19:00 – 20:30

£12 / £8 / £7.20 for RAS Members

An evening of intergenerational poetry and story-telling exploring the body as a site of power, possibilities and resistance. 

What does the body mean to you? Who draws the boundaries of what the body is or what it could potentially be? Join us for an evening of poetry and story-telling exploring the relationship we have with our bodies (poetical, physical, political, fantastical) and the shifting perceptions across generations. Line-up for the night to be confirmed.

Book tickets

New Daughters of Africa

Saturday 6 July, 19:00 – 20:30

£15 / £12 / £10 / £9 for RAS Members

Celebrating Black women’s writing in a landmark anthology.

Twenty-five years after Margaret Busby’s landmark anthology Daughters of Africa, this new companion volume brings together the work of over 200 writers from across the globe – Antigua to Zimbabwe, Angola to the USA – to celebrate a unifying heritage, illustrate an uplifting sense of sisterhood and showcase the remarkable range of creativity from the African diaspora, particularly in the past 25 years. Comprising a wealth of genres and styles, this anthology speaks to the strong links that endure from generation to generation as well as the common obstacles that women writers of colour continue to face as they negotiate issues of race, gender and class.

In this event, four contributors to the new anthology, Bernardine Evaristo, Nadifa Mohamed, Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀ and Namwali Serpell, join Margaret Busby in conversation to celebrate the global sweep, diversity and extraordinary literary achievements of Black women writers.

Presented in partnership with the Royal Society of Literature.

Book tickets

Chigozie Obioma in conversation and The Fishermen

Sunday 7 July, 15:30 – 18:30

£20 / £18 / £15 / £12 for RAS Members

A double-bill of mythic Igbo traditions including a staged reading and a conversation with Chigozie Obioma.

Man Booker shortlisted novelist Chigozie Obioma discusses his writing, Igbo mythology and stories of the everyday. In a conversation with readings from The Fishermen and An Orchestra of Minorities, we explore blurred lines between myth and reality, thoughts on fatherhood, and reworking ancient Greek classics with Igbo cosmology. The evening opens with evocative staged reading of The Fishermen, adapted by Gbolahan Obisesan.

Book tickets

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Weekend and Day tickets can be bought on the British Library website.

The full festival programme will be announced in May.

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Otosirieze is deputy editor of Brittle Paper. He is a judge for the 2018/19 Gerald Kraak Prize and the 2019 Miles Morland Writing Scholarships. He is an editor at 14, Nigeria’s first queer art collective, which has published volumes including We Are Flowers (2017) and The Inward Gaze (2018). He is the curator of the Art Naija Series, a sequence of e-anthologies of writing and visual art focusing on different aspects of Nigerianness, including Enter Naija: The Book of Places (2016), which explores cities, and Work Naija: The Book of Vocations (2017), which explores professions. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review and Transition. He has completed a collection of short stories, You Sing of a Longing, is working on a novel, and is represented by David Godwin Associates literary agency. He combined English and History at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, is completing a postgraduate degree in African Studies, and taught English at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu. Find him at otosirieze.com, where he accepts writing and editing offers, or on Instagram or Twitter: @otosirieze. When bored, he Googles Rihanna.

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