Abantu Book Festival shining light on black voices

The inaugural Abantu Book Festival will kick off on Thursday in Soweto, featuring over 50 authors from South Africa, Africa, and the diaspora.

It hopes to be the first of many more annual literary events providing black authors and readers due recognition.

The Abantu Book Festival will be a melting pot of readings, discussions, music and other forms of storytelling.

Festival curator and author Panashe Chigumadzi explains that the concept was born from historical exclusion of black authors and readers from existing literary circles.

In particular, she says the announcement by author Thando Mgqolozana at Franschhoek Literary Festival that he was "quitting the white literary industry", was a catalyst for change.

The festival came out of black writers thinking that they need to love themselves enough to do something for themselves.

Panashe Chigumadzi, author and Abantu Book Festival curator

Chigumadzi explains that the event is an extension of the decolonisation project, creating a space that does not feel exclusionary or alienating.

The people who have to do this are us, black writers. We have to do it for ourselves. No one can do it for us.

Panashe Chigumadzi, author and Abantu Book Festival curator

She says it is part of an effort to disturb the dominant narrative on industry editors, publishers, distributors.

According to Chigumadzi, the programmes encompasses various different politics, perspectives and views.

Blackness has different kinds of expression. But because we are forced into those white literary spaces, we can't have room.

Panashe Chigumadzi, author and Abantu Book Festival curator

Do not miss the wide line-up of black writers - which she says only scratches the surface of black literary talents.

Books on sale will be from the African Flavour Books, which was founded in 2013 Fortiscue and Nokuthula Helepi.

Day events (from 09:30- 16:00 ) are free and are taking place at Eyethu Lifestyle Centre.

The evening events (1730 - 21:30) cost R20 and will be at the Soweto Theatre.

Visit the Abantu Book Festival website to learn more.

Listen to why you should be at the Abantu Book Festival this weekend:


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