The International Confluences Book Fair was hosted in Mauritius on 6-9 March with authors from the island on the Indian Ocean and otherparts of the globe.
The Mauritian authors who attended the fair included Ananda Devi, Lindsey Collen, Alain Gordon-Gentil and Sedley Assone. From out of Mauritius were writers from France, UK, India, China, Togo, South Africa, Burundi, Cote d’Ivoire, Madagascar, Reunion and Rodrigues.
There were no Kenyans invited to the festival so I am left adopting some of those who I have met or whose work I have interacted with. The guests that many Kenyans will remember was Dr Wally Serote who was in town last year for the Storymoja Hay Festival 2013. He also gave a public lecture at the University of Nairobi to a very appreciative audience.
Also amongst the authors was one of my favourite South African one Angela Makholwa (Black Widow Society and The 30th Candle), Dr Finuala Dowling (Homemaking for the Down-at-Heart and Notes from the Dementia Ward) and Kabomo Vilakazi. This delegation from South Africa was led by Siphiwo Mahala who who also works for the South African Department of Arts and Culture and has written African Delights and When a Man Cries. You can get the whole list of the guests of the festival at this link.
Apart from panel discussions the guest authors also went around to schools to encourage the kids to get in the game which can only be a good thing as it gets the next generation of readers and writers.
The thing I love about this festival is that it is an initiative of the office of the Prime Minister of the country Dr. Navinchandra Ramgoolam who opened it himself. When you have the top dog designating books as part of the strategy for your country so that it can be a cultural desitination then you are in the right place.
This love from the top thing was shown when none other than former South African President Thabo Mbeki showing at the festival to meet with writers from his country and discuss their work. That’s pretty cool.
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