Displaced. Sold. Betrayed? – African Book Festival Has to Change Venues at Short Notice
Yesterday.Today.Tomorrow is the motto of this year’s African Book Festival, which was supposed to start on Saturday at Napoleon Komplex in Friedrichshain. Suddenly, however, a prohibition of use from the building authorities arrived there yesterday (Tuesday). The operation of the popular venue at Modersohnbrücke is thus shut down until further notice.
This drastic action, interpreted as excessive by the directors of Napoleon Komplex, is part of a policy of displacement and gentrification in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg that has been going on for years and to which the popular African Book Festival almost fell victim.
It is only thanks to the solidarity of Berlin’s cultural scene that it can still take place from 26-28 August. Within a few hours, the Alte Münze in Mitte agreed to host the festival on Saturday and Sunday. Friday, we’re at Festsaal Kreuzberg. … continue reading
Books let us immerse ourselves in the minds of others like no other medium. They seduce us to change our point of view. With their incredibly diverse perspectives, stories and narrative styles, African authors bring their experiences to the African Book Festival and thus offer a very special occasion for exchange.”
– State Minister for Culture and Media Claudia Roth, patron of the African Book Festival 2022
The Johannesburg-based writer, filmmaker and photographer Lidudumalingani is the new curator of the African Book Festival in Berlin. Taking place from 26-28th August 2022, the event will once more bring together the stars of contemporary African literature in the German capital. In 2016, winning the Caine Prize for African Writing propelled him to literary stardom. Shortly after he was awarded the Miles Morland Scholarship for his debut novel Let Your Children Name Themselves, cementing his fame.
His short stories and essays have been published in various anthologies, his photographs exhibited in galleries. He regularly writes for the Johannesburg Review of Books and is currently working on his first novel, a non-fiction book and a feature film.
No other African country has made headlines as often during the Covid-19 pandemic as South Africa. In an attempt to counter the questionable narratives of the so-called continent in crisis, the African Book Festival will focus on South African literature and culture next year.
Titled Yesterday.Today.Tomorrow, the programme curated by Lidudumalingani will include readings, concerts, panel discussions, poetry and comedy. The theme of the 2022 edition explores the connections between writers – the way older writers hold the hand of the young writers when they write, and how, in turn, they too hold the hand of the writers coming after them.
The African Book Festival gathers the most famous, most influential, award-winning writers and artists from the African continent and its diaspora for readings, discussions, interviews, concerts as well as theatre and spoken word performances in Berlin.
Since 2018, the festival has quickly grown into a popular public event, visited by up to 1.500 people per day, receiving broad local, national and international media coverage.
The event goes way beyond simply presenting new books and authors. Addressing current social, political, cultural and artistic issues is always at the heart of the event. In addition, the audience is invited to become part of a special experience. Through live music, poetry, market stalls offering African food, books, jewellery and fashion, we create a welcoming atmosphere and highlight African cultural production in its many forms in order to fuel debates and personal exchanges across continents.
In order to represent Africa in all its diversity as accurately as possible, the artistic direction and theme change every year. In its first edition curated by the German-Nigerian author Olumide Popoola, the festival looked at transnationalism and migration in a more literary sense of “keeping in motion”. Under the caption “Transitioning from Migration”, the African Book Festival 2019 continued the debate with highly acclaimed Zimbabwean writer, filmmaker and winner of the Peace Prize of the German Trade Tsitsi Dangarembga as curator.
In 2021, the renowned Angolan author and musician Kalaf Epalanga explored the theme “Telling the Origin Stories” by focusing on questions of origin, affiliation and identity as well as the love affair between music and literature.
The annual African Book Festival is presented by InterKontinental e.V., a non-profit association aiming at promoting literature from Africa and its global diaspora in Germany. We facilitate literary events and design literary innovative concepts. Our work is based on collaboration at eye level and mutual exchange between Germany and the countries of the African continent and its diaspora. All our projects are curated by African partners.
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