Mauritanian writer and human rights activist Mohamedou Ould Slahi Houbeini has been announced as the curator of the 5th installment of the African Book Festival in Berlin. The festival will be held from August 25-27, 2023 and is titled “Breaking Free”.

Hosted in Berlin since 2018, the annual African Book Festival is a meeting place for writers and poets, often featuring some of the leading African writers in the industry. It was founded by InterKontinental e.V., a state approved non-profit and politically independent association based in Berlin whose goal is to promote literature from Africa as well as writers from African countries in Germany.

For the 2023 African Book Festival, Slahi Houbeini plans to put together a programme that includes Mauritanian poetry, readings, concerts, panel discussions and film. At the same time, the festival will promote intercultural exchange as well as the opportunity to present common and universal values reflected in literature.

Born in Mauritania in 1970, Slahi Houbeini is known as one of the people unjustly imprisoned in the U.S. prison camp Guantanamo Bay. His memoir Guantánamo Diary was published in 2015 and became an international bestseller. While in captivity, Slahi Houbeini wrote his current novel The Actual True Story of Ahmed and Zarga (2021), an epic journey through the geographical and spiritual terrain of the Sahara that explores the relationship between humans and the environment. He was released from prison in 2016 and now resides in the Netherlands.

According to Slahi Houbeini, writing is a “means of revenge against censorship and oppression.” Consequently, the theme of the 2023 African Book Festival in Berlin is “Breaking Free”. At the heart of Slahi Houbeini’s curatorial work is the “central experience of how freedom can not only be defined and achieved, but also what uncertainties and responsibilities it comes with.”

Go here for more information about the 2023 African Book Festival in Berlin.