Renee Edwige Dro (top) and Tanella Boni (bottom)

Tanella Boni at Afrolit Sans Frontières Season 3.

Tanella Boni kicked off the Sunday on Season 3 of Afrolit Sans Frontières from Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire on May 31, 2020. She was hosted by Renee Edwige Dro.

Afrolit Sans Frontières, a virtual literary festival for writers of African origin, started as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic international lockdown. It has had two iterations with Season 1 curated by founder Zukiswa Wanner in March and Season 2 the founder co-curated with Maaza Mengiste in April. Season 3, with curation by Mohale Mashigo and Zukiswa Wanner, features 16 writers from 13 countries streaming from 15 cities in English, French, and Portuguese. All sessions run twice daily on the official Afrolit Sans Frontières Instagram page from May 25 to June 1.

The festival which started on Africa Day, May 25, has so far featured Dilman Dila in Kampala, Uganda; Tochi Onyebuchi in New York, USA; Vamba Sherif in Amsterdam, Holland; Ayesha Harruna Attah in Dakar, Senegal; Beata Umubyeyi Mairesse in Bordeaux, France; Max Lobé in Geneva, Switzerland; Masande Ntshanga in Cape Town, South Africa; Mubanga Kalimamukwento in Minneapolis, USA; Tsitsi Dangarembga in Harare, Zimbabwe; Leila Aboulela in Edinburgh, Scotland; Virgília Ferrão in Maputo, Mozambique; and José Eduardo Agualusa in Lisbon, Portugal.

The Sunday sessions started with Tanella Boni, a professor, poet, novelist and essayist streaming from Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire. Boni has published around twenty works over the last three decades including Labyrinthe: Poèmes (1984), Une Vie de Crabe (1990), De L’autre Côté Du Soleil (1991), Les Baigneurs Du Lac Rose (1995), Matins De Couvre Feu (2005), Les Negres N’Iront Jamais Au Paradis (2006), La Ou Il Fait Si Clair En Moi (2017), Habiter Selon Tanella Boni (2018), Wangari Maathai, Celle Qui Guérit La Terre (2018), and Miriam Makeba, Une Voix Pour La Liberté (2018).

The session hosted by Renee Edwige Dro started with a welcome to the session by the guest Tanella Boni who, as mentioned, is one of the most respected in African letters. Boni read several poems including from Chaque Jour L’espérance, Que Vivent Les Femmes D’Afrique, and a new one related to the killing of George Floyd and the deadly aftermath in the USA. The discussions that followed touched on language and how important it was, how even the accomplished author struggled to find the outlets to produce the work she would have liked, and lots more.

You can watch the whole interaction between the two below. Please note that the video is principally in French.

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