Authors, artists to parade works at “books and arts” festival in Nairobi
As part of the celebrations for this year’s World Book and Copyright Day, a four-day books and arts festival is set to take place at Nairobi’s Village market in bid to re-ignite interest in books, reading, and enhance the impact of arts and literature in the country.
Themed “firing up African literature”, the inaugural MOTO Books and Arts Festival is expected to bring together local and international authors, publishers, illustrators, booksellers, artists, and brands to showcase their work and share emerging literature trends.
“The Moto Books and Arts Festival is an initiative that will help to connect like-minded people, who are enthusiastic about books and the creative scene, and who also appreciate the hidden gems in the world of art and theatre,” said Mercy Kibira, HalfPriced Books Limited managing director.
The festival will take place at Village market from 21 to 24 April, and will include an exhibition that will provide publishing brands, authors, and book dealers the opportunity to showcase outstanding books, art and culture.
The exhibitors will be drawn from publishing houses, bookshops, licensing and intellectual rights agencies, learning institutions, illustrators, editors, authors, online content creators and media houses. Other highlights of the event will be a master class hosted by local authors and a keynote address by a leading international author.
A charity books drive has also been planned as part of the festival to equip libraries across schools in Kenya, an initiative set to increase literacy levels among school-going children.
The books drive dubbed “Adopt-a-library” challenge will be spearheaded by Village Market and Maktabas, a non-profit organization that gathers, ships, and distributes unwanted and repurposed books from different parts of the world to less privileged learners and schools in Africa – Maktabas has distributed more than 100,000 books and equipped 128 Libraries in Kenya in the last five years.
Maktabas CEO, Gerald Mbugua says they target to distribute more than 20,000 Books and equip 30 Libraries in 2022. The local drop-off point for books will be at Village Market.
“We are participating in the MOTO Books and Arts Festival as a strategic partner to advance literacy levels in the marginalized areas by stocking libraries and fostering strategic partnerships that will grow our impact,” he says.
The World Book and Copyright Day was initiated by UNESCO on 23rd April 1995 as a worldwide celebration of books and reading and is marked in more than 100 countries around the globe.
It is aimed at encouraging children and young people to read for pleasure through its work with authors, illustrators, publishers, bookshops, and libraries.
There has been tremendous growth in African literature in recent years with many writers from the continent dominating global literary awards.
The Nobel Literature Prize used to be dominated mainly by Westerners in its 120-year existence. Of the 118 literature laureates since the first Nobel was awarded in 1901, 95 – or more than 80% – have been Europeans or North Americans.
Some of the world’s biggest literary awards, including the Nobel, Booker and Goncourt, have gone to Africans in 2021 in a sign of the continent’s emergence as a major force in literature.
They include Tanzania’s Abdulrazak Gurnah becoming a Nobel laureate, South Africa’s Damon Galgut winning Britain’s Booker Prize and 31-year-old Senegalese Mohamed Mbougar Sarr becoming the first writer from Sub-Saharan Africa to win France’s top literary award, the Prix Goncourt.
Senegalese writers also won the International Booker (David Diop) and Prix Neustadt (Boubacar Boris Diop) while Portugal’s Prix Camoes went to Paulina Chiziane of Mozambique.
African literature had a previous heyday in the 1950s and 1960s, though it was tied up with politics and decolonisation, embodied by figures like Senegal’s poet/president Leopold Sedar Senghor. Others who advanced African Literature include Chinua Achebe and Wole Soyinka, Nigerian playwrights and novelists, Okot p’Bitek celebrated writer from Uganda, Marjorie Oludhe Macgoye and Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o Kenyan writers and academics to mention a few. Today, the themes are much broader and writers less concerned with how they are viewed by outsiders.