Kenya to host books and arts festival

Nana Darkoa Sekyiama

Ghanaian writer Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah who is set to attend  MOTO Books and Arts festival at Village Market, Nairobi in April.

Photo credit: Pool

What you need to know:

  • Maktabas has distributed more than 100,000 books and equipped 128 Libraries in Kenya in the last five years.
  • African literature has in recent years experienced tremendous growth with many writers from the continent dominating global literary awards.

Kenya will host a four-day books and arts festival as part of celebrations of this year’s World Book and Copyright Day.

The inaugural MOTO Books and Arts Festival will be held between April 21 and 24, 2022 in Nairobi. The event seeks to  reignite interest in books, reading, and enhancing the impact of arts and literature in Kenya.

The event slated for Village Market will bring together local and international authors, publishers, illustrators, booksellers, artists, and brands who will showcase their work as well as share emerging literature trends.

Celebrated Ghanaian writer and blogger Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah will headline the festival themed Firing up African Literature.

HalfPriced Books Limited, the anchor sponsor of the festival, Managing Director Mercy Kibira said the festival brings together local and international authors, publishers, artists and brands to showcase their work and share emerging literature trends that will help boost reading, grow the industry and impact society.

“The festival will help 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,” she said.

Exhibition 

The celebrations will include an exhibition that will provide top 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 organisation 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.

“We are targeting 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,” said Maktabas CEO, Gerald Mbugua.

 100 countries 

The World Book and Copyright Day was initiated by UNESCO in 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.

African literature has in recent years experienced tremendous growth with many writers from the continent dominating global literary awards.

This has seen many African writers bag some of the world's biggest literary awards including the Nobel Literature Prize, Booker and Goncourt, with the continent dominating the awards in 2021.

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.

Senegal’s poet/president Leopold Sedar Senghor, Nigerian playwrights and novelists Chinua Achebe and Wole Soyinka, Uganda’s Okot p’Bitek, Marjorie Oludhe Macgoye and Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o of Kenya are just some of African writers who set Africa on its path to becoming a cornerstone of the global literature.

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