The Storymoja Hay Festival is the biggest literary festival in Kenya having happened for the last five years and seeing many thousands of guests. This year’s event the five in the series is a bit special. The 2013 edition of the event was badly affected when terrorists attacked one of Kenya’s best malls at the time the Westgate. One of the most prominent of the event Ghanaian Prof Kofi Awoonor was caught up at the mall and was killed by the blood thirsty terror agents. This led to the festival being cancelled halfway through as the city of Nairobi was in trauma as well as in respect of the actions a couple of kilometres away.
This year’s festival will be happening from 17th to 21st September and there promises to be a whole load of festival artists for you to see. The biggest name in African literature Wole Soyinka who recently turned 80 confirmed that he would be coming for the festival this year. This was in response to the attack by those terror dudes (and white widow) who dared try and mess with our artists. A pox upon them and karibu Baba Wole.
It’s not just Nobel Laureate Soyinka on the cards though. There is a whole bunch of really cool artists for you to check out. There the bunch of the Storymoja “usual suspects” like poet and Njeri Wangari, Beverley Nambozo N. the poet and award creator, Tony Mochama of the many definitions and a few more. These are the folks that have been the bread and butter of the festival in the last couple of years and it is unimaginable to have this festival without their appearance.
There are also some of the returnees from the previous festival with American poet and doctor Neal Hall, M.D. and Ghana/Jamaican poet and write Kwame Dawes set to make an appearance. I am not certain why they are on the bill this year but I suspect that they may have wanted to see a full session of the festival. In fact I recall some bar talk about Teju Cole wanting to return to see a whole festival but it just stayed in that bar as I have never heard of it again.
There are also a few East African commentators we may be familiar with if you follow the business keenly. Doreen Baingana is the biggest name as far as I am concerned. The winner of many prizes including the Commonwealth and the Miles Morland Scholarship last year has a very serious resume and I look forward to seeing her speak. Oduor Jagero has been in the media business for a bit and styles himself as a poet/author. The author he borrows from True Citizen the book he recently unveiled and that was the reason he was on The Trend on Friday alongside Caine Prize winner Okwiri Oduor and Caine Prize regular shortlistee Billy Kahora. Then there is Jeff Koinange who is currently on a quest to make his book Through My African Eyes into a one million seller. If you want to know how he intends of achieve this crazy feat (I know I do) then you want to head to the festival and see what he has to say. Other East Africans are Rasna Warah, Alexander Nderitu, Michael Onsando, Ndiritu Wahome, Shaleen Keshavjee-Gulam and Liyou Libsekal.
For a more complete look at the artists to see at the Storymoja Hay Festival please check out the official guest line up at the official website. Please note that the list keeps expanding as more guests confirm.