Image from Africa Writes – Bristol’s Twitter.

In 2017, Africa Writes, the UK’s biggest festival celebrating African literature, moved beyond London for the first time, organizing pop-up events across the country in Edinburgh, Birmingham, and Bristol. With the Bristol event proving the most successful in terms of audience and partner engagement, the Festival decided to plan and develop it as an independent biennial literary programme, co-produced by Dr. Kate Wallis and the poet TJ Dema. In an email to Brittle Paper, TJ Dema explains that 2019 is the inaugural year of the Africa Writes – Bristol festival. Africa Writes – Bristol will take place ahead of the main Africa Writes in London, the former running for seven days from Friday, 28 June to Thursday, 4 July, the latter happening for three days from Friday, 5 July, to Sunday, 7 July.

Presented by the Royal African Society and Saseni!, the inaugural Africa Writes – Bristol festival will feature over “30 writers and creatives drawing on histories and geographies from across Botswana, Cameroon, Jamaica, Kenya, Nigeria, Somaliland, South Africa, Uganda, UK, USA and Zambia,” through performances, book launches, panels, and workshops. The event will take place at locations in Bristol: Malcolm X Community Centre, Arnolfini, Waterstones, Foyles, The Cube, and the Wickham Theatre.

Key events include: the headline event with Margaret Busby, editor of New Daughters of Africa: An International Anthology of 20th- and 21st-Century Writing by Women of African Descent, and contributors to the anthology; a rare appearance by the legendary Somali musician Hudeidi; a poetry night featuring the South African poet Koleka Putuma and the British poet Jay Bernard; a Caine Prize conversation featuring two of this year’s finalists in Lesley Nneka Arimah and Cherrie Kandie; a screening of the Kenyan film Supa Modo; and a conversation between gal-dem editor Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff, curator of Mother Country: Real Stories of Windrush Children, and contributors to the anthology.

Details from the press release.


2019 marks the launch of New Daughters of Africa, an anthology edited by Margaret Busby (following on from her landmark Daughters of Africa published in 1992) and featuring the work of over 200 writers from across the globe – from Trinidad and Tobago to Kenya, Equatorial Guinea 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. New Daughters of Africa has very much inspired our programming for Africa Writes – Bristol 2019, with nearly every panel featuring a contributor to this important new anthology (from Ros Martin to Jay Bernard to Nadifa Mohamed), and a particular emphasis on showcasing the extraordinary literary achievements of Black women writers from Bristol-based Liz Mytton’s new play Back Home to Namwali Serpell’s debut novel The Old Drift.

The headline event, for New Daughters of Africa, is held in partnership with St Paul’s Carnival, where Dialogue Books’ Sharmaine Lovegrove will be in conversation with Margaret Busby and contributors to this influential anthology at the Malcolm X Community Centre.

60% of the events are free and open to all. Tickets for paid events can be booked online HERE.

Other programming highlights across the week include:

● A rare appearance by legendary Somali musician Hudeidi (Saturday 29 June, Malcolm X Community Centre, 2pm, FREE)

● A poetry night featuring award-winning South African poet Koleka Putuma and 2019 Ted Hughes Award winner / Temple Quarter resident poet Jay Bernard, followed by the Africa Writes – Bristol festival party with a DJ set from Miss Divine (Saturday 29 June, Malcolm X Community Centre, 8pm, £6)

● A rare opportunity to see 2019 Caine Prize for African Writing shortlisted writers outside of London with Lesley Arimah and Cherrie Kandie in conversation with Nikesh Shukla (Sunday 30 June, Waterstones, 6pm, £8 / £6)

● A screening of critically acclaimed Kenyan film Supa Modo about a terminally ill girl who dreams of becoming a super-hero, followed by Come the Revolution’s Liz Chege in conversation with one of the film’s writers Wanjeri Gakuru (Tuesday 2 July, The Cube, 7.15pm, £8/£6).

● Editor of gal-dem Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff talks to contributors of her new edited collection Mother Country: Real Stories of Windrush Children sharing rich and previously undocumented insights into intergenerational black British experiences (Thursday 4 July,
Waterstones, 7pm, £8/£6).

Over 60% of our events are free, with a range of free activities for families, creatives and book lovers available from 11.30am to 7.30pm on Saturday 29th June at Malcolm X Community Centre.

There are opportunities for Bristol-based creatives to get more involved in the festival by registering for our fiction, poetry and literary producers workshops.

Get in touch at [email protected] with the title ‘poetry’ or ‘fiction’ or ‘book-making’ to indicate interest.

There are also still opportunities to join our team of volunteers and help us produce the festival by sending your CV to [email protected] before 26 June 2019. Contact: Kate Wallis & TJ Dema, Co-Producers: [email protected] or 07947514662.

Social media: FB: AfricaWritesBristol | T: @AfricaWritesBrs | In: @AfricaWritesBristol | #AfricaWritesBristol


The programme of events can be downloaded HERE