Afrolution 2019, a festival with a literary focus, was hosted in venues in Berlin, Germany from June 13-16, 2019. The festival theme was “Pan Africanism revis[it]ed.”
Afrolution is a festival with literature as its core, organised by Each One Teach One, that was hosted in Berlin, Germany this June. In the first edition in 2018, bibliophiles converged on the capital of Europe’s biggest economy to engage with writers like Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi, Mukoma Wa Ngugi, Helon Habila, Fiston Mwanza Mujila, and many more.
The 2019 edition rolled into Berlin with book discussions, film screenings, poetry performances, and much more happening in venues across the European city. This year the festival was brought to Germany in collaboration with the Aké Arts & Book Festival. It was dedicated to Pius Adesanmi who passed away earlier this year.
The opening ceremony hosted at the offices of Each One Teach One included speeches by Afrolution director Nadja Ofuatey-Alazard, Aké Arts & Book Festival director Lola Shoneyin, German Senator for Culture and Europe Dr Klaus Lederer, and Festival godfather Tejumola Olaniyan. The evening’s entertainment was provided by 3 Women & The Bass.
Literary festivals = Panels and conversations and there were many of these. Here are a few of the most notable ones.
The evening of the first day ended with three sessions with Samia Nkrumah and Aminata Touré speaking on the topic, “Africa – Diaspora. Pan-Africanism Today”. Hakim Adi, Hamado Dipama, Peggy Piesche in conversation with Samia Nkrumah, and Aminata Touré followed with the topic “History Matters – Pan-Africanism 1919-2019.” Closing out the sessions for the day was Georges Adéagbo with the topic “Africa for Africans and Africans in Pan-Africanism” in French.
The first panel of day two was “Pan-African Thinking, Writing, Curating 3 Public intellectuals” with Thando Mgqolozana, Tejumola Olaniyan, and Lola Shoneyin in conversation. Then there was “Un/Belongings: Texts in the Interplay of Location, Movement and Selfpositioning” with Sulaiman Addonia, Simone Dede Ayivi, Hadiza Isma El-Rufai, and Sharon Dodua Otoo.
Another panel was “Linking up Pan-Africanism in the Digital Age” with Jeffrey Klein, Yolanda Rother, and Schwarzrund giving their expertise to the audience. Speaking on “Pan-African-Futuristic Synergies Literature, Dance & Music” were Nnedi Okorafor, Catherine Nakawesa, and Lamin Fofana.
Jessica de Abreu, Mitchell Esajas, Philipp Khabo Koepsell, and Arike Oke spoke on Black European history, colonial continuities and the need for its archiving. Ayobami Adebayo, Aya Cissoko, Chiké Frankie Edozien, and Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor shared the stage on the panel, “Pan-Africanism, Transnational Queer, and Women Writers.” Then there was Fred Moten, Nnedi Okorafor, Felwine Sarr engaging on “Re-imaginings of Pan-Africanism.”
There were several performances in the duration of the festival. On the first day, guests enjoyed the poetry performances of poets d‘bi. young anitafrika and Dami Ajayi. Ajayi also gave a poetic summary of Afrolution 2019 on the final day.
The final evening had a concert with performances by M1 (Dead Prez) & Bonnot featuring and Camufingo.
Youth and children activities
Readers don’t appear from nowhere; their love of the written word has to be nurtured from a young age. The Each One Teach One team, being well aware of this, organised a series of events for the younger guests. d‘bi. young anitafrika, Loraine Blumenthal, and M1 Dead Prez hosted or participated in youth workshops over the days of the festival. Kofi Shakur and Sheba Wiafe ran the session “Future of Black Thought Exchange about the collective reading of selected Black texts.”
On their part, children were given childcare with book reading and games during most days. Also on offer for the kids was “Create your own super(s)hero Craft room” with Tebalou and the Adinkra – Stencil Workshop with Jonathan Kwesi Aikins where they could turn their clothes, fabrics and other things into something fancy.
It wasn’t just full-on literary events that were being patronised in Berlin. One of the other activities was #eatthebook hosted at the Salone Market Literary lunch with Ozoz Sokoh where one could eat dishes featured in a book by an African writer. Then there was Mudjadji Beauty Workshop where one could learn about homemade cosmetics for skin and hair with Francesca Chinn. There was also the reprising of the tour around the African Quarter with Joshua Kwesi Aikins and Mnyaka Sururu Mboro that was very popular last year. There was also the screening of Beyond Tolerance by director Muyiwa Aluko.
Below are more images by Emmanuel Nimo and Mla Mleli from the events in Berlin in June; they are used with the permission of Each One Teach One.