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10 African Literary Festivals You Should Consider Attending – Part II

10 African Literary Festivals You Should Consider Attending – Part II


Earlier, we curated a list of festivals promoting engagement with African literature: Aké Arts and Book Festival (Nigeria), Macondo Literary Festival (Kenya), Pa Gya! (Ghana), Mogadishu Book Fair (Somalia), and Time of the Writer Festival (South Africa). But the fields of African literature are even verdant with more thrilling festivals you should know about, especially if you are a fan of African writing. This is a sequel to that piece, showcasing other literary festivals in Africa that are sure to thrill any lover of African literature.

Check out 5 literary festivals in Africa you should consider attending…

#1. Gaborone Book Festival, or GBF (Gaborone, Botswana)

Photo: @litfestharare/Instagram

Two sisters in Botswana fall in love with books. But they don’t wish the love of books for themselves alone. So they create a platform to share their love for books with fellow Batswana. The sisters, Keikantse and Kenanao Phele did exactly that in 2017 when they founded the Gaborone Book Festival (GBF).

The festival takes place annually in September in Botswana’s capital city, Gaborone, bringing together writers, authors, readers, publishers, booksellers, and content creators, for three days of profound literary engagements. It provides a platform that connects Batswana writers with players in the literary ecosystem both local and international. Events at Gaborone Book Festival include panel discussions, book talks, book chats, and book launches.

GBF also runs a school outreach program that donates books to thousands of students from low-income areas in Botswana. The Gaborone Book Festival is the only book festival in Botswana; we can’t thank the Phele sisters enough for sharing this wonderful literary space with not only Batswana book lovers but also with other Africans who love the world of books.

#2. Open Book Festival (Cape Town, South Africa)

Photo: @qarnitaloxton/Instagram

Cape Town’s biggest literary festival, the Open Book Festival, recognizes the importance of books, authors, and readers. The festival showcases the best of South African writing and brings together representative audiences in the hope that it can sustainably contribute to Cape Town’s future by growing the love of reading and books among its youth.

Founded in 2011 by Mervyn Sloman and Ben Williams, Open Book Festival has received incredible support over the years; it now features over 100 authors from South Africa, Africa, and beyond. Poets, authors, activists, academics, journalists, and leaders of thought come together to give their candid takes on issues and phenomena. Open Book Festival is one of South Africa’s most highly regarded festivals and has twice been shortlisted for the London Book Fair Excellence Awards. The 2023 edition of the Open Book Festival will take place from 8 to 10 September 2023 in Cape Town.

#3. Kaduna Book and Arts Festival (Kaduna, Nigeria)

Photo: @kabafest/Instagram

The Kaduna Book and Arts Festival (also called KABAFEST) is a real spell of fun and lively events. Authors entice their listeners with book readings. Spoken word poets charm listeners with sublime poetry. Dance troupes leap onto the stage to wow their audience. Musicians further spice up things with riveting songs. Booklogues, panel discussions, art exhibitions, and film screenings are special highlights of this festival. Book vending venues swarm with book lovers. Foodies sample exotic cuisine. There’s a great deal of fun and delight at KABAFEST.

The festival provides a safe space for writers, artists, journalists, filmmakers, and intellectuals to exchange ideas, debate tough topics, and suggest ways to advance society. The biggest book and arts festival in Northern Nigeria, KABAFEST started in 2017 by the Kaduna State Government, in partnership with the Book Buzz Foundation. It usually takes place in September and last four days.

#4. Lagos Book and Art Festival (Lagos, Nigeria)

Photo: @childreninafricanscenario/Instagram

The Lagos Book and Art Festival (also known as LABAF) is one of the oldest festivals for books or arts in Nigeria. Since its establishment in 1999 by the Committee for Relevant Art (CORA), the festival has brought together writers, authors, book lovers, publishers, and the Nigerian public to feasts of ideas and life featuring book readings, conversations around books, colloquiums, documentaries, film screenings, art exhibitions, creative workshops for schoolchildren and students, live music, drama, dance and poetry performances. The festival spans seven days with lots of events to thrill festivalgoers.

#5. Litfest Harare (Harare, Zimbabwe)

Photo: @litfestharare/Instagram

Litfest Harare was founded in 2013 by the Zimbabwean poet and author, Chirikure Chirikure. This festival gathers book lovers and practitioners in the literary industry to celebrate literature and strengthen connections among lovers of art. Events at Litfest Harare cater to a wide spectrum of audiences, featuring book launches, panel discussions, poetry performances, theater productions, slide shows, interviews, quizzes, live music, and dances. Litfest Harare also runs workshops for high school students on storytelling, poetry performance, hip-hop, and social media skills. The festival is held annually each November.

See 5 more African Literary Festivals You Should Consider Attending

5 African Literary Festivals You Should Consider Attending – Part I

Featured image: @akefestival/Instagram 

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