The Storymoja Festival 2015 is here ladies and gentlemen! The hype and the tweets and the Facebook statuses and Instagram posts and the planning has culminated to one of the biggest cultural event in the region is upon us. The festival promises some of the best discussions with the book being at the centre of many of them therefore authors and poets have been flying into Kenya’s capital. Apart from those core people, there have been many people like rappers, actors, activists, university professors et all set to enjoy the hospitality of Nairobi and the festival.
This year there has been a fundamental change to the way the festival is run as it moves to the Nairobi Arboretum after a stint at the Nairobi National Museum. Previous hosts of this fast growing festival include the Impala Club on Ngong Road where it was born in 2007, the Railway club where it moved before moving to the museum.
The events are numerous this year as usual. 28 pages worth of events if the program is telling me the truth so you can’t expect one single blog post to tell you everything to check out. We shall try and give you some of the must attend events at this year’s festival. There are programs for schools which might interest parents and their offspring but I won’t be focusing on them for this blog. This one is for the adults.
Today the Masterclasses started at the Arboretum and those who want to improve their craft at various areas have an opportunity to learn from some of the best in the game. If you are only reading blog now then you have already missed today’s masterclasses. Fear not. There will be more tomorrow. The one you don’t want to miss will be the Playwriting masterclass with Donald Molosi from Botswana. This Motswana man brought to life the story of Philly Lutaaya the late great Ugandan musician and AIDS activist. He should be really cool.
Friday has some epic ish going for it. Wanna be journalists can listen to some of the best in game teach them the tricks of the trade. These will include Emmy Award winning Jeff Koinange and Michael Meyer the dean of AKU School of media and communication. While I may not have heard of this Meyer fellow you can be sure that many Kenyans, and Africans, know Koinange from his days in CNN and now for his TV show The Jeff Koinange Show.
Away from the Masterclasses, The Lumina Foundation, administrator of The Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa, will be hosting a reception where you can learn how to win that prize of $20,000. It will be moderated by Ivor Agyeman-Duah and Dr. Ogochukwu Promise (The Lumina Foundation is).
The highlight of Friday will be the Exclusive Festival Charity hosted by Dr Auma Obama Kshs10,000/- ticket price benefiting the Start-A-Library initiative. Dr Obama for those who might not be aware is first known Kenyan to board The Beast with US President Barack Obama when he visited a while back. When she is not boarding The Beast Dr Obama is the patron of Storymoja Festival 2015.
On Saturday the literary events start proper. This year’s Wangari Maathai Memorial Lecture will be given by UNEP’s Chief Scientist Jacqueline McGlade who will deliver a challenging and inspiring message while paying glowing tribute to her long time friend and Africa’s celebrated matriarch. The introduction will be made by the late Prof. Wangari Maathai’s daughter Wanjira. This was the lecture that Prof Wole Soyinka made last year.
Another must attend event is HerStory where Storyteller Mshai Mwangola (Kenya) and award-winning writer Tsitsi Dangarembga (Zimbabwe) share inspiring stories of heroic women like Nyanjiru and Mekatilili and relate personal stories of everyday women whose resilience and achievements feed our spirit and steel our spines in our continent.
A panel on prizes and whether winning them means anything will be the subject of a panel discussion by Namwali Serpell (2015 Caine Prize winner), Lizzy Attree (Caine Prize Director), Ogochukwu Promise (Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa) and BN Poetry Award winners. That event will be moderated by Kenyan writer Ciku Kimeria and Karungari Mutu.
Our friends from across border in Kampala, Writivism will be hosting a Chain Story Challenge where writers and readers write short chain stories to be judged by Saraba co-founder and poet Dami Ajayi (Nigeria). Poets Kagayi Peter and Harriet Anena (both Uganda) shall perform their poetry during this unique interactive event.
Another panel to check out will be How Books and Art Create and Propagate National Values which will include Jama Musse Jama, Director of the Hargeysa Cultural Centre and the host of the Hargeysa International Book Fair, Enock Onkoba and Boniface Mwangi.
The book launches on this day will be Borderlines by Michela Wrong, Boda Boda Kampala Anthology by BN Poetry Prize winners’, A Nation In Labour by Harriet Anena and Boldly Queer a book of essays.
On Sunday the highlight I believe will be the Kofi Awoonor Memorial Lecture. Kofi Awoonor was a guest at the festival in 2013 and he was killed at the Westgate Mall attack and this talk is held to celebrate the man. His son, Afetsi, who was with him at the time, will give a glowing tribute to his father as a testament of great hope, healing and forgiveness.
Then there will be Read Africa! Here writers from across the continent share their stories on writing and discuss the African reading culture. They include writers Ogochukwu Promise (Nigeria), Dominic Otiang’a (Germany), Dami Ajayi (Nigeria), Khulekani Magubane (South Africa), Tsitsi Dangarembga (Zimbabawe), Aleya Kassam (Kenya) and Ciku Kimeria (Kenya) and others. They will be moderated by Goretti Kyomuhendo a director of the African Writers Trust).
Also on the bill will be a talk on Research for Fiction where author Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi discusses historical research and “fact” in fiction writing.
As said before these are just some of the many events at the festival and as we go ahead we shall probably be changing our position. It’s that crazy where the Storymoja Festival will be. See you there folks.