The story of literary festivals and book fairs around African and Black Literature in 2020.

Literary festivals and book fairs are a hugely important part of any literary ecosystem and we see this with African and Black Literature as well. The year started like it always does with events like the Cairo International Book Fair, the Swahili Book Fair, and others being hosted. When the London Book Fair was cancelled over fears of the spread of Coronavirus on March 4, continental festival organisers took note.

There were several reactions to the changes being forced upon us by a global pandemic.

  1. To cancel and/or postponed the festival until such a time as they could be hosted safely. Festivals like the Hargeysa International Book Fair, 72 heures du Livre de Conakry, and Macondo Literary Festival fell in this category.
  2. To host the event fully virtually. This was the model espoused by Ake Festival, Lagos International Poetry Festival, and the South African Book Fair.
  3. A mix of both physical and virtual events which was adopted by festivals like Time of the Writer, Pa Gya! Literary Festival, and Lagos Arts and Book Festival.
  4. Festivals that came about as a direct response to events of the year like the Afrolit Sans Frontières, Juneteenth Book Festival 2020, and Bakwa Literary Festival.

Here is a list of festivals and fairs that happened, or were cancelled or postponed, in 2020 that we could track. The ones which are linked are the ones which we had some reporting on.



Mixed (both virtual and physical)