22 of the ‘Africa 39’ authors made it to the Port Harcourt Book Festival (PHBF) 2014 which held from 20th to 25th October.
‘Africa 39’ is a project of Hay Festival and the Rainbow Book Club in celebration of the Port Harcourt World Book Capital project. It involves the selection and celebration of 39 writers under the age of 40 in Africa, south of the Sahara.
The 22 writers were:
Richard Ali (Democratic Republic of Congo)
Rotimi Babatunde (Nigeria)
Igoni Barrett (Nigeria)
Recaredo Silebo Boturu (Equatorial Guinea)
Nana-Brew Hammond (Ghana/ USA)
Shadreck Chikoti (Malawi)
Edwidge Renee Dro (Abidjan)
Tope Folarin (Nigeria/USA)
Clifton Gachagua (Kenya)
Stanley Gazemba (Kenya)
Mehul Gohil (Kenya)
Hawa Jande Golakai (Liberia)
Abubakar Adam Ibrahim (Nigeria)
Stanley Onjezani Kenani (Malawi)
Linda Musita (Kenya)
Glaydah Namukasa (Uganda)
Ndinda Kioko (Kenya)
Okwiri Oduor (Kenya)
Ukamaka Olisakwe (Nigeria)
Chibundu Onuzo (Nigeria)
Lola Shoneyin (Nigeria)
Zukiswa Wanner (Zambia)
The ‘Africa 39’ writers were present for the PHBF week. They were officially recognized and acknowledged at the welcome cocktail and opening ceremony. Some programmes were designed specifically for the ‘Africa 39’ authors, within and outside the venue of the Festival. Hay Festival representative and editor of the ‘Africa 39’ anthology, Ms. Ellah Allfrey was on hand to moderate various discussion sessions.
On Wednesday, 22nd October, the authors were hosted to a ‘Meet-the-Author’ session at the University of Port Harcourt where they talked about their works and inspiration to an audience of over a hundred students at the Ken Saro-Wiwa Hall of the English Studies Department. The students fielded questions on writing and its techniques to which the authors answered by encouraging them to cut back on TV time and spend more time reading and writing.
The session was moderated by Ellah Allfrey, editor of the ‘Africa 39’ anthology.
Later that evening, 10 of the ‘Africa 39’ authors were interviewed in another ‘Meet-the-Author’ session which held at the venue of the Book Festival. The interactive session was moderated by Christie Bature-Ogbeifun, an author and prolific speaker.
The Ken Saro-Wiwa Foundation had a reception in honour of the ‘Africa 39’ on Thursday, 23rd October. Also in attendance were Bibi Bakare-Yusuf (Cassava Republic Publishers), James Tennant (PEN International), Koko Kalango (PHBF Festival Director), Tade Ipadeola (PEN Nigeria), Ellah Allfrey, journalists, and other guests.
The guests were welcomed by Fiona Ramsey and Ken Saro-Wiwa Jr. of the Ken Saro-Wiwa Foundation. The air was soon filled with voices of the Africa 39, reading from their recently published anthology and a beautiful performance of songs and poetry by Recaredo Silebo Boturu. After interacting, taking pictures and signing autographs, the event was brought to a close with a short address by Tade Ipadeola on ‘The Essence of Writing and the Power of Words’. Ken Saro-Wiwa Jr., son of the late author and environmental activist, Ken Saro-Wiwa- after whom the Foundation is named- gave the vote of thanks.
In the evening of the same day, enthusiasm soared among members of the audience as a second set of Africa 39 authors took part in a ‘Meet-the-Author’ session anchored by Dr. Ode Eyeoyibo, author and lawyer.
Friday, 24th October, 2014, saw the Africa 39 at Alliance Francaise. The event kicked off with welcome addresses by Helen Geneau-Okutue (Alliance Francaise Director), and Koko Kalango (Festival Director). An interactive session moderated by Ellah Allfrey soon took centre stage bordering on the works of the authors.
It was altogether a busy but beautiful week with 22 of Africa’s best writers under the age of 40. They left Port Harcourt on Sunday 26th October at the close of the 2014 edition of the Port Harcourt Book Festival.
Source: Rainbow Book Club.