Ngugi wa Thiong’o at the 2018 Stimmen Afrikas Festival. Photo by Herby Sachs/version-foto.de.

The Stimmen Afrikas Festival in Germany—Voices of Africa in English—will be turning ten in November 2019. The festival, which aims to create a market for African literature in the country, will this year be curated by Bibi Bakare-Yusuf, co-founder and publishing director of Cassava Republic Press. The event, themed “Crossing Borders: Translate – Transpose – Communicate,” will be held in the city of Cologne, from 6-9 November.

The festival will feature readings, lectures, audience discussions, workshops, and music performances. Among the over 40 authors and translators expected are Mukoma wa Ngugi, Zukiswa Wanner, Boubakar Boris Diop, Susan Kiguli, and Paul Bandia. The detailed guest list and festival program will be published on the festival’s website.

In 2017, the festival’s organisers published the only German translation of Ngũgĩ wa Thiongo’o’s Decolonizing the Mind. For this 10th anniversary, an anthology, Imagine Africa 2060, containing short stories by 10 African authors who share their visions on the continent’s future, has been published.

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See the press release below.

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stimmen afrikas celebrates 10 years of African literature in Cologne

Long before the call for more diversity in Germany’s cultural institutions, in 2009, literary historian Christa Morgenrath launched the Literary Festival stimmen afrikas (tr. African Voices /Voices of Africa) in the city of Cologne. This year, the festival celebrates its 10th anniversary.

How is world literature defined in times of globalization? How much do people in Germany, or for that matter the so called Global North as a whole, know about the poets, novelists and authors from Africa? For the longest time, apart from a few students of African-Caribbean Studies, the names and works of African authors remained hidden and largely unknown to a broader German audience. The festival stimmen afrikas was founded with the precise aim of remedying this shortcoming.

The first literary reading took place in the spring of 2009 in Cologne with literature from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Since then, more than 100 authors from almost 40 different countries have travelled to Cologne to read from their works and engage in
discussions with the audience. Over the years, stimmen afrikas has also delivered the impetus for the translation of many works into German. In 2017, the festival’s initiators published the first and only German translation of Ngũgĩ wa Thiongo’o’s “Decolonizing the
Mind”, and this year, to mark the festival’s 10 th anniversary, an anthology entitled “Imagine Africa 2060” has been published. The book contains 10 short stories by 10 African/African Diasporan authors who share their visions on the continent’s future.

For the past 10 years, stimmen afrikas has provided a platform for both up-and -coming as well as established writers from Africa to present their works to a German audience. Audiences in Cologne have had a chance to experience these literary voices live and to
engage with authors from the African continent. For 10 years, stimmen afrikas has provided a fruitful intercultural exchange and has enriched the literary diet of German readers.

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Enquiries should be directed to Tina Adomako via [email protected]