Mona Eltahawy to headline UK’s Africa Writes 2021 festival.

Mona Eltahawy was revealed to be the headliner for the literary festival Africa Writes 2021, today, August 19, 2021. The festival centred around the themes of Imagination, Pleasure and Activism win run from October 4-24, 2021.

The Africa Writes literary festival, an initiative of the UK’s Royal African Society, started with events that included a keynote by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in 2012. In the following years, it has grown to be one of the most awaited for literary events in the African diaspora calendar in the UK. It has hosted some of the most well-known names in the African literary universe with headliners like Ama Ata Aidoo, Nawal El Saadawi, Wole Soyinka, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, Mũkoma wa Ngũgĩ, Ben Okri, and Warsan Shire.

In 2021, the festival is set to run a blended programme of online and in-person events at the British Library and 180 The Strand starting on October 4. This will be the return of the festival after it made the move from an annual to a biannual festival starting in 2019.  

Africa Writes Producer, Marcelle Mateki Akita, said “We are excited to bring Africa Writes back to audiences and our programme reflects a multitude of experiences, interests and aesthetics, with stories from the African continent as well as in its diaspora. This year Africa Writes consists of a two-day in-person event at the British Library from 23-24 October, which audiences can also access online via the British Library Player.”

This year, Africa Writes has partnered with festival organisers on the African continent to co-curate a series of events as part of the British Council’s Digital Collaboration Fund. African festival partners are Pa Gya! Literary Festival in Ghana, Afro Queer Podcast in Kenya and Kaduna Book and Arts Festival in Nigeria. This year will also see the second edition of the Lifetime Achievement in African literature Award, which will be announced during the course of the festival.

The festival headliner for 2021 is US American-Egyptian journalist, activist and author Mona Eltahawy whose first book was Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution (2016). In the headline event, Eltahawy will be in conversation with Dr Leyla Hussein at the British Library on Sunday, October 24, where she will discuss her latest book, The Seven Necessary Sins for Women and Girls (2019) – a bold, uncompromising feminist manifesto on how to defy, disrupt and destroy the patriarchy.

There are other events scheduled featuring South African visual artist and performer Sethembile Msezane; British-Jamaican poet Raymond Antrobus; and Sierra Leonean interdisciplinary artist Julianknxx, and many others. A more comprehensive program will be made public on September 9.