Programme Click on individual date to get the details. All events previously advertised at the University of Nairobi will now take place at the National Museum

About Litfest

2012 Kwani? Litfest: Conversations with Writers and Artists from The Horn

The fourth edition of our biennial gathering of writers, poets, literary academics and theorists from the continent kicks off between 9th – 16th December, 2012. Titled Conversations With The Horn: Writers, Artists In Exchange, this year’s festival will host Somali poet Hadraawi, Sudanese-English novelist Jamal Mahjoub & Eritrean writer and historian Alemseged Tesfai to share their work with writers from other parts of the continent. These include Egyptian writer and activist Nawal El Sadaawi & Nigerian and Ghanaian novelists, Helon Habila and Kojo Laing. They will also be joined by writers from Mozambique, Namibia, and Cameroon.

Following different themes over the years at the Kwani? Litfest, this is the first time that we have invited a combination of different writers from the Horn to be part of a celebration of literature and its role in our lives. Recent developments in the region have created points of convergence that warrant intra-continental literary, artistic and intellectual conversations. To begin with, new writing has emerged in places where little writing at least in Anglophone Africa had been seen in the mainstream and hence Egypt, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and South Africa are not the only players in a global republic of letters. Some of the most recent exciting contemporary African Literature has come from the so-called countries of the Horn by writers such as Meaza Mengiste, Dinaw Mengestu, Nadifa Mohamed, Abraham Verghese, Abdulrahman Waberi & Sulaiman Addonia. These follow in the rich literary traditions set by Nuruddin Farah, Tayeb Salih and many others.

With Southern Sudan as Africa’s latest nation, the emergence of Ethiopia as a new African economic force, the gradual stabilization of Somalia and the emergence of its resulting Diasporas, new expressions and narratives can challenge the ubiquitous narrative of political crisis. Such narratives, usually driven by outsiders, have been given prominence that mask numerous other layered realities otherwise taking place in the same areas. Writers and cultural commentators from these regions are increasingly becoming prominent in producing new narratives and ideas about their homelands. We hope that this edition of the Litfest provides a platform for the sharing of ideas through lectures, panel discussions and readings. That it can be a site of debate and discussion by writers, academics and literary enthusiasts on how literature, art and culture is related to the layered realities in the countries of the Horn now and in a glorious past.

The very fact that thousands of Sudanese, Ethiopians, Eritreans, and citizens of Somalia through migration and spill-over from conflict in these regions have seeped into Kenya’s national and especially urban psyches tells us that societal relationships have emerged that are complex and fluid. That, in truth, Kenya is as much part of the East African Community as what is known as The Horn of Africa. We recognize the differences, commonalities, and imaginaries between our societies and those of the Horn. We feel that these need to be discussed through the lens of art, literature and culture, and welcome you to the 2012 edition of the Kwani? Litfest. Check back for programme details

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