This year’s festival celebrates womxn’s literature, queer stories and new writing

Africa Writes returns to the British Library this weekend for its seventh annual showcase of the most innovative contemporary voices from Africa and the diaspora. Hosted by the Royal African Society, this year’s festival will focus on womxn and queer writers pioneering the renaissance in African literature as well as emerging talents and leading lights from across the continent whose work inspires fresh ways of thinking.

With over 60 artists on the line-up, headliners include Yomi Sode, whose one-man show, Coat, sees the poet cook a stew while exploring themes of identity, migration and displacement; and fellow poet Warsan Shire – famed for featuring on Beyoncé’s Lemonade album - who will discuss how her current projects deal with art and healing.

Ayesha Harruna Attah presents her third novel, The Hundred Wells of Salaga, set in 19th century Ghana, and Akwaeke Emezi will pre-launch her debut novel, Freshwater, which delves into the obanje of Igbo spirituality. Other new books come from young writers Panashe Chigumadzi and Novuyo Rosa Tshuma and the award-winning author Leila Aboulela. There will also be a chance to hear from Phyll Opoku-Gyimah of UK Black Pride, and Gal-Dem founder, Liv Little, as well as get involved in workshops covering literary translation, Afrofuturism, fashion, pitching and podcasts.

And when the talking ends, the party starts over at east London’s Rich Mix where the Octavia Poetry Collective will present a Wakanda-themed night featuring art, music and performance from Sarah Lasoye, Victoria Adukwei Bulley, Hibaq Osman, Rachel Long, Belinda Zhawi and Amina Jama.

“We are excited to present a huge range of voices,” say festival programmers Marcelle Mateki Akita and Caitlin Pearson. “Young people from countries with uncertain and shifting political climates such as Zimbabwe, Somalia, Uganda and Kenya are writing some of the most inventive and exciting fiction around at the moment. In an apparent new era of insularity and hardening borders, we look at both the history and the present of what it means to belong in Britain, and through books, poetry and performance we celebrate Africa and the diaspora in its fullest sense.”

Africa Writes is at The British Library from 29 June to 1 July, 2018

Nataal will be selling the debut issue of our magazine at Africa Writes on Sunday 1 July


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Published on 26/06/2018