Swahili Literary Festival

The Swahili Literary Festival 2020 is set to happen at the SwahiliPot Hub in Mombasa from March 4-8, 2020. The festival theme is “Identity Politics in The Swahili Coast.”

In March 2019, the Hekaya Initiative organised the Swahili Literary Festival in Mombasa at the SwahiliPot Hub. It featured panels covering issues of interest to the literary and general art practitioners in the coastal part of the East African country. A unique aspect of the festival was celebrating those who had contributed immensely to the literary tradition of the Swahili. The event incorporated the youth with an afternoon of poetry dedicated to high school students. You can read our snapshot of that excellent series of events here.

The Hekaya Initiative, who announced the festival dates for 2020 last year, has announced the theme for this year as “Identity Politics in The Swahili Coast.” This theme was informed by the post-festival conversations with prominent thinkers and scholars where the need to define what it means to be Swahili and what the term entails was expressed.

This year, the festival will have events ranging from school activities like multi-lingual spelling bees and writing competitions in Arabic, English, and Kiswahili, a discourse on building a sustainable reading culture in the coast, a panel discussion on ‘Je, Waswahili Ni Nani?’ and a talk by Judy Aldrick, author of ‘Sir Ali Bin Salim & The Making Of Mombasa’, an important text that rhymes with this year’s theme. They will also be celebrating the late Maalim Ali Abubakar who mentored the likes of Prof Ali Mazrui, Prof Mohamed Hyder and other prominent thinkers from the coast.

The festival will also play host to the launch of the novel Kas Kazi, Hekaya’s publishing pilot project which won the African Writers Trust Seed Fund 2018. Kas Kazi is a collaborative effort from over 15 writers on the Kenyan coast merging multiple voices to tell one flowing story.