In this special issue on the occasion of the Storymoja Festival 2015, writers and past attendees of several literary festivals on the African continent offer their reflections. The essays are memoiristic, diaristic, and ultimately evoke the spirit of each festival reported on. Including the Writivism Festival (Uganda), Ake Book and Arts Festival (Abeokuta), Port Harcourt Book Festival (Port Harcourt), the Lagos Books and Arts Festival (Lagos), Hargeysa International Book Fair (Hargeysa), and the Storymoja Festival (Nairobi).
The resonant impact of each festival is ascertainable. Storymoja, as Julie Muriuki writes, is a “sacred, creative place.” She describes a meeting with Professor Kofi Awoonor on the eve of his death, when he gave her “permission to write fiction.” The honing of craft is often underscored in these festivals, as Magunga Williams and Tolu Daniels emphasize in their essays. In her essay, Nyana Kokoma articulates how the festivals create trans-national networks.
This year, as Saraba’s work is increasingly brought to the limelight, we have sought to enrich our conversations with wide-ranging partnerships. These collaborations ensure that we reach literary communities outside the digital ether, on-the-ground, as it were. Beginning with a collaboration with Victor Ehikhamenor and Tobias Zielony for the German Pavilion at the ongoing Venice Biennale—the special issue we produced was printed and displayed—our partnership with Storymoja will culminate in a panel at this year’s festival.
This issue highlights an important facet of the expansive community of African literature. More intrepid writers and organizers are playing key roles in developing an ecosystem, and ensuring its longevity. Fortunately, this is happening in many cities on the continent, far and removed from each other. Partnering with Storymoja, Saraba documents instances of this growth.
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—Emmanuel Iduma & Dami Ajayi, co-publishers
- Magunga Williams—Getting My Sentences Right
- Tolu Daniel—Exchanges and Destinations
- Ciku Kimeria—Get Lots of Sleep before Attending any Literary Festival on the Continent
- Nyana Kakoma & Julie Muriuki—Positive Developments in the Wake of Literary Festival