Here is a list of virtual literary events across Africa to keep you busy during the shutdowns as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

2020. What a year. As a result of a new deadly virus spreading across the world, literary festivals, book launches, and award ceremonies considered the bedrock of African literature have been cancelled. It’s not all doom and gloom as many new virtual initiatives have come about to keep you, the lover of the literary, engaged from your own home. Here are a few.

  • 21 Days, 21 Poets with Impepho Press.

South Africa’s Impepho Press ran what could be considered a revolutionary event when they hosted “#InPoetryWeHope: A Virtual World Poetry Day Showcase” on March 21, 2020. The event hosted on Zoom had many poets from across the planet perform over several hours. You can see the event in full below.

Impepho Press followed up this successful event with “21 days, 21 Poets” where twenty one poets recite their poetry daily over a three week period. Some of those who have featured are Nkqo, Tereska Muishond, vangile gantsho, Mak Manaka, Siza Nkosi, and Afeefa Omar. You can check out these poets at the Impepho Press YouTube page.

  • The Afrolit Sans Frontieres Virtual Literary Festival.

The Afrolit Sans Frontieres Virtual Literary Festival, founded by author and publisher Zukiswa Wanner, kicked off at the tail end of April to much praise. The first edition had 16 writers from 10 African countries share their work from 15 different cities in English, French, Lingala, and Portuguese to a virtual audience over eight days. The second edition of the festival, curated by Maaza Mengiste and festival founder Zukiswa Wanner, kicks off today at 12:00 GMT. Click here to see the writers from across Africa who take part and the festival schedule. For more information follow Afrolit Sans Frontieres on Instagram.

  • Emmanuel Iduma Reads from A Stranger’s Pose.

Emmanuel Iduma, a co-founder of the Saraba Magazine, is the Nigerian writer of the travel memoir A Stranger’s Pose. The writer started doing daily live readings of his book on his Instagram Page on April 10.

  • The Cheeky Natives

The Cheeky Natives podcast, run by Alma-Nalisha Cele and Letlhogonolo Mokgoroane from their Johannesburg, South Africa-base, has insightful interviews with some of the best writers producing today. The Cheeky Natives have over the last few days been running daily sessions on Instagram Live with players in the publishing industry. They continue their mission to shine a light on amazing writers this week with Sue Nyathi, Nicole Dennis-Benn, Saidiya Hartman, Bokang Maragelo, and Landa Mabenge. Follow the Cheeky Natives on Instagram.

  • #WeTurnToBooks with Brittlepaper

Brittlepaper, which has been running for a decade, is considered to be the longest running digital literary platform still active in African writing today. The website highlights African writers and gives a platform for them to showcase their work. Its #WeTurnToBooks Instagram Series with founder Ainehi Edoro-Glines as host has featured Mukoma Wa Ngugi, Ato Quayson, Chibundu Onuzo, and E.C. Osondu. You can follow Brittlepaper on Instagram for updates on the next session.

  • Natalia Molebatsi on Friday

Natalia Molebatsi is a South African poet whose work includes We Are (A Poetry Anthology), Sardo Dance: Collection of Poems, and Elephant Woman Song. For the last couple of weeks, the Johannesburg-based poet has been doing poetry readings on her Facebook page every Friday evening. You can check out this page for information on upcoming readings. Below is a recording from a previous session.

  • Hear My Voice

Hear My Voice is a non-profit organization based in the City of Tshwane, South Africa. Their focus is developing young spoken word artists as well as creating open and uncensored platforms for youth to express themselves through spoken word poetry. They achieve this through organizing local and international exchange programs, workshops, live spoken word shows, open mics and other literature programs for schools, private companies, government, libraries, festivals and other cultural institutions. For more information click here.

If you have any virtual event that would be of interest to the African literary community during this lockdown please get in touch. We would love to add it to this list.