Sulaiman Addonia kicked off the fourth day of Season 2 of the Afrolit Sans Frontieres Virtual Literary Festival from Brussels, Belgium on Thursday, April 23, 2020. He was hosted by Troy Onyango.
The Afrolit Sans Frontiers Virtual Literary Festival, a new initiative by and for writers of African origin, was started in March as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic international lockdown. Like the first edition, Season 2 features some of the leading names in African letters today with curation by Maaza Mengiste and festival founder Zukiswa Wanner. This season sees 16 writers from 14 countries streaming from 13 cities in English, French, and Portuguese over eight days under the festival theme “What I Wish You’d Ask Me.”
Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor kicked off proceedings on the first day from Nairobi, Kenya followed by festival co-curator Maaza Mengiste closing out the day from Zurich, Switzerland. The second day started out with Elma Shaw streaming from Kigali, Rwanda before the evening was concluded by Lola Shoneyin from Lagos, Nigeria. The first speaker for the third day was Edwige Renee Dro in Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire before Festival founder Zukiswa Wanner alongside Chike Frankie Edozien, Kalaf Epalanga, and Leye Adenle wrapped up.
Eritrean-Ethiopian-British novelist Sulaiman Addonia, streaming on Instagram from Brussels, Belgium, was the first speaker on Thursday. His first novel, The Consequences of Love, shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, was translated into more than 20 languages. Silence is My Mother Tongue, his second novel, has been longlisted for the Orwell Prize for Political Fiction 2019. He currently lives in Brussels where he has launched a creative writing academy for refugees and asylum seekers, the Asmara-Addis Literary Festival (In Exile), & co-founded with Specimen Press a new literary prize, To Speak Europe in Different Languages: Hybrid and collective writing competition.
Sulaiman started with a quick introduction and festival curator Zukiswa Wanner joined the Instagram session to read an excerpt from his novel Silence Is My Mother Tongue. Wanner then gave way to event host Troy Onyango who asked his own questions as well as those that came in from the at times unruly Instagram followers who had logged in. Addonia shared influences in his writing, his work with refugees and the festival he runs in Brussels, and even his skin regimen.
You can watch the whole session on the below video.