Dec 7, 2022

Mawazo Writing Africa

Writing about the main

Nairobi and Rabat: A tale of book fairs in two cities

The Nairobi Book Fest, a three-day celebration of “Books, Words and Ideas,” lived up to its expectations. It took place from June 24th to 26th at the Alliance Francaise in Nairobi and included panel discussions, book sales and book signings.

One of the main events was a discussion on Nairobi in the Making: Landscapes of Time and Urban Belonging, written by Constance Smith. The session was moderated by Kimani Njogu.

The discussion revolved around the city as a “transition and transaction space”. Others in the audience described Nairobi as a “concrete and non-digital place” and home to much “city zen”.

At one of the stalls I bought a copy of Morning Shall Komm, by Ouma Don Collins. The author describes his work as subtle poetry that promises “to tickle the heart, provoke the mind and uplift the soul”.

Eudia Kamonjoh, author of Black Nights, Steamy Coffee , was also at the show to promote her book. I bought that too.

Mike Mburu, who runs Kwani? Open Mikes had a booth on the first Tuesday of each month at the Kenya National Theatre. He explained to the writer Sahara Abdi that Kwani? did not die with the death of its founder Binyavanga Wainaina three years ago, but sold its residue “mainly as a continuing speech in true African folklore and poetic tradition”.

A panel discussion on mystery book writing and publication was moderated by Simiyu Baraza, who hired writer Vincent de Paul.

Rabat fair

Earlier this month I attended a book festival in Morocco, organized by the Rabat Intra-Continental Book and Trade Fair , at the invitation of its President, Drizz El Yazami, author of Migrations Mediterraneennes.

The Rabat Fair publishes a book each month, mainly on the subject of migration. The theme is central to Morocco, which is a magnet for illegal immigrants due to its proximity to Spain.

The festival lasted 11 days and attracted thousands of locals, 120 authors and academics to book launches and panel discussions whole continent.

Frederic Ebami, Bellamech Fatimetou, Bencheikh Driss, Rochdi Keltoum, Dieye Mamadou, Tarik Slaiki, Smith Alexandra Jones, Tarabollssi Baha, Kebir Ammi Mustapha, Fall Mar, Elallam Abderrahim and Nguich Marie Noelle are a few of the authors attending the fair.

The session, titled ‘Pan-African Cultural Cooperation’, was moderated by Moroccan Ambassador to Kenya Mokhtar Ghambou with Oromo writer Munira Hussein and Nigerian academic Toyin Bibitayo Ajao on the panel discussion.

In the discussions, Kenya was presented as a ‘universal recipient’ of cross-country cultures within its artistic tastes and tapestry s.

The highlight was the discussion around Youssef Haji’s Fragments of Living Memory of an Immigrant and Traveler to Norway, speaking about experiences from North Africa.