Abantu Book Festival: Tales of the hunt from the lion’s perspective
By Anele Gcwabe
The annual Abantu Book Festival will bring together the best novelists, children’s writers, poets, playwrights, literary scholars, musicians, actors and activists for four days in December and The Journalist, along with ACTIVATE! Change drivers, will be live tweeting and Facebook streaming the action. Keep an eye out for exclusive content from black writers and readers who make the annual pilgrimage to celebrate our diverse African literary heritage.
“Until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.”
– Gavin Hunt
The literary giant Chinua Achebe said that he knew that he had to be a writer after his encounter with this quote. After understanding the meaning behind this maxim, he knew that he had to be a historian. “It’s not one person’s job. But it is something we have to do, so that the story of the hunt will also reflect the agony, the trivial- the bravery, even, of the lions”, the great Achebe said in a 1994 interview in a Paris Review where he spoke of “the danger of not having your own stories”.
Twenty-four years later, young South Africans are doing things that would make A.C Jordan and other pioneers of African storytelling proud. From modest beginnings in 2016, the Abantu Book Festival, which runs from Thursday 6 December to Sunday 9 December has become an annual journey for black writers and readers. It is held in Soweto to celebrate the rich and diverse African literary heritage. This festival is where art and book lovers need to be, because while the book remains the focal point of the festival, there is a wide-ranging programme that is a banquet for the whole nation. This includes poetry and musical performances, writing and publishing workshops, panel discussions and in-depth conversations, dance, as well as film-screening. Mouth-watering stuff!
With such a mind-blowing speaker lineup, it’s almost impossible to do justice to this celebration of African literature in one article! Which is why ACTIVATE! Change drivers and The Journalist will be live tweeting and streaming various sessions on Facebook throughout the festival for the convenience of Abantu Book Lovers who cannot attend the festival. We will also be engaging with and profiling some of the speakers prior to the festival so keep an eye out for exclusive content from Activate! And The Journalist.
One session you definitely do not want to miss is the collision of two literary powerhouses, Author and Speaker Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and the University of Fort Hare’s Dean of Research, writer and feminist, Professor Pumla Dineo Gqola, on Friday 7 December.
An unknown speaker once said, “Writing is exhaling the words and stories inhaled through reading” and this festival promises an overflow of all kinds of creative gasses to inhale. If you are a book lover and/or an aspiring writer, be sure to attend! If you unable to attend, be sure to follow TJ and ACTIVATE! on social media as they take you through the 3rd Annual Abantu Book Festival.
One could dare say that the Abantu Book Festival is the long-awaited device that translates the lion’s roars into words that allow for Africa’s story to be understood and enjoyed by many.