The second edition of Kenya’s Macondo Literary Festival, which celebrated the theme of “The Future of Memories,” just ended in the country’s capital Nairobi.
The 2022 Macondo Literary Festival was held at the Kenya National Theatre in Nairobi from September 30 to October 2. The festival invited African authors who published works on aspects of African histories and had them engage with their audiences on futures that may possible emerge from knowing a continent’s past.
The festival was attended by 12 writers from ten African countries and Brazil, writing in English, Portuguese and French. Among these writers was Zanzibari-born 2021 Nobel Prize for Literature laureate Abdulrazak Gurnah. The other guests were José Eduardo Agualusa and Yara Monteiro (Angola), Roberta Estrela D’Alva (Brazil), Patrice Nganang (Cameroon), Abdulai Silá (Guinea-Bissau), Naivo (Madagascar), Mia Couto (Mozambique – joined virtually), Sylvie Kandé (Senegal), Nadifa Mohamed (Somalia/ UK), Hafsa Zayyan (UK) and festival co-founder Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor (Kenya).
Organized by the Macondo Book Society, the brainchild of novelist Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor and journalist Anja Bengelstorff, the festival was intended to be a platform to explore belonging, histories and futures among English, French and Portuguese-speaking African authors and audiences. It was also meant to introduce, to Kenyan readers, African writers who are not as well known due to their writing in French or Portuguese, but by whom translations of their works are now available, such as Naivo from Madagascar (Beyond the Rice Fields), Abdulai Silá from Guinea-Bissau (The Ultimate Tragedy) and Senegalese poet Sylvie Kandé (The Neverending Quest for the Other Shore).
Cameroonian writer and scholar Patrice Nganang shared his experience upon leaving Kenya after the festival. His words speak to the atmosphere and spirit of the festival:
MY LAST MEMORY OF KENYA: I arrive in front of the immigration officer, at the airport. Before even seeing my passport, she says, ‘Patrice!!!’. Last time an immigration officer called my name, it was a Bulu man, to arrest me and put me in handcuffs and in jail. No, the Kenyan lady smiles. She had attended my reading at the Nairobi literary festival, and was reading my book she bought. Now, THAT is the Africa of tomorrow! Asante!
Scroll down to see the photos from the event.