Ondjaki kicked off the final day of Season 2 of the Afrolit Sans Frontieres Virtual Literary Festival on Instagram from Luanda, Angola on Monday, April 27, 2020. He was hosted by Zukiswa Wanner.
The Afrolit Sans Frontiers Virtual Literary Festival, an initiative by and for writers of African origin, started in March as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic international lockdown. Season 2, like the first edition, features some of the leading names in African letters today with curation by Maaza Mengiste and festival founder Zukiswa Wanner. It sees 16 writers from 14 countries streaming either on Instagram or Facebook from 13 cities in English, French, and Portuguese over eight days under the festival theme “What I Wish You’d Ask Me.”
Since the festival started on April 20, bibliophiles have interacted with Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor from Nairobi, Kenya, Lola Shoneyin from Lagos, Nigeria, Elma Shaw from Kigali, Rwanda, Edwige Renee Dro from Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire, Sulaiman Addonia from Brussels, Belgium, Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi from Manchester, UK, Napo Masheane from Johannesburg, South Africa, Mona Eltahawy from Montreal, Canada, Fred Khumalo from Johannesburg, South Africa, and Hemley Boum from Paris, France. There have also been sessions with festival curators Maaza Mengiste alongside Natasha Omokhodion-Kalulu Banda, Remy Ngamije, Bisi Adjapon, and Chike Frankie Edozien and Zukiswa Wanner alongside Chike Frankie Edozien, Kalaf Epalanga, and Leye Adenle.
The first writer for Monday, the final day of the festival, was Angolan writer and filmmaker Ondjaki. Ondjaki has published four novels, three collections of short stories, two collections of poetry and three children’s books. His literary debut came in 2002 with the novella O Assobiador (The Whistler), which was followed up with the childhood memoir Bom dia Camaradas (Good Morning, Comrades) in 2003. Since then he has also published Transparent City (2012), Uma Escuridão Bonita (2013), Sonhos Azuis Pelas Esquinas (2014), and Há Gente em Casa (2018). Ondjaki has been awarded a number of prizes like the Jabuti Prize as well as the Saramago Prize 2013, Prix Transfuge 2015 and Prix Littérature Monde 2016 for Transparent City.
Ondjaki started the broadcast by reading excerpts from Uma Escuridão Bonita in Portuguese and Transparent City in English before his host Zukiswa Wanner took charge. Over the hour of the event, with colourful comments from the dozens assembled, the Angolan spoke about writing, his publishing house and bookstore, language politics in his country, the importance of translations, and a lot more.
You can watch video from the session below.