The third annual Abantu Book Festival kicks off today in Johannesburg at the Eyethu Lifestyle Centre and runs until Sunday.
This year, the programme lineup comprises renowned poets, novelists, literary scholars, musicians, actors, activists and literary thinkers.
Founder and director Thando Mgqolozana said: “The Abantu Book Festival is a cultural gathering curated in Soweto to showcase Africa’s talented literary artists in various genres. It provides a platform to capture and celebrate the art of literature, and is fast becoming a highlight for African writers.”
The festival has a strong focus on novels, but there are also sessions of poetry, music and workshops on writing and publishing, panel discussions and film screenings.
Mgqolozana added: “So many African writers aren’t given the appropriate platform to showcase their work. Events of this nature provide authors and black voices with the opportunity to represent themselves as part of a curated programme. A new addition this year is the Abantu Bookstore. Patrons can purchase directly from the festival.”
The opening last night was hosted by Lebo Mashile with the keynote address by Dr Bibi Bakare-Yusuf and a performance by the Zuko Collective.
Today and tomorrow will be packed with debates. Artists in the line-up include Bibi Bakare Yusuf, Kagiso Lesego Molope, Helon Habila, Novuyo Rosa Tshuma, Nozizwe Jele, Fred Khumalo, Jolyn Phillips, Lebohang Masango, Tumelo Buthelezi, Lesego Semenya, Rosie Motene, Esinako Ndabeni, Haji Mohamed Dawjee, Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, Sue Nyathi, Kgotsi Chikane and Gail Smith.
Gcina Mhlophe will again be curating a children’s programme featuring storytellers using various storytelling mediums.
One of the most anticipated events is The Standout today featuring Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Professor Pumla Dineo Gqola.