Africa: A Balance of Stories

Africa: A Balance of Stories

Before his death, acclaimed Nigerian author Chinua Achebe had an ambition - to inspire voiceless peoples to share their own histories and create a global ‘balance of stories’.

In her 2009 TED Talk ‘The Danger of a Single Story’, fellow Nigerian Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie echoed his words, reflecting that the West’s portrayal of Africa in literature exposes ‘a tradition of Sub-Saharan Africa as a place of negatives, of difference, of darkness,’ and that the consequence of this ‘single story’ is that, ‘It robs people of dignity. It makes our recognition of our equal humanity difficult. It emphasizes how we are different rather than how we are similar.’

This year, authors from across the continent tell their stories, and our Outriders - ten writers we commissioned to journey across Africa and create new works from their experience - give voice to untold stories.

Ekow Eshun: Africa is a State of Mind

Tuesday 18 August 13:00 - 14:00

Home to more than 1.2 billion people, Africa is the world’s second most populous continent. Gaining a better understanding of this complex and diverse land, according to Ekow Eshun, rests not simply in thinking about its geography but about ‘looking...
As part of the Book Festival's Outriders programme exploring the shifting landscapes of contemporary Africa, writers born in two neighbouring countries interrogate what means to be the 'other' in pan-African society. Originally from Cameroon and...
Ugandan short story writer and novelist Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi burst onto the scene when she won The Kwani? Manuscript Project in 2013 with her first novel Kintu. Since then, she’s garnered legions of readers and accolades including a Commonwealth...

Maaza Mengiste: When Italy Invaded Ethiopia

Wednesday 19 August 17:30 - 18:30

In Maaza Mengiste’s latest novel, the shadowy nature of figures from the past is played out in complex and interlocking ways. The Shadow King is powerful, stirring historical fiction that centres women within stories of war and battle that have...
As part of the Book Festival's Outriders programme exploring the shifting landscapes of contemporary Africa, we turn to The Gambia and Senegal, where, like everywhere else, a maelstrom of taps and swipes has seen modern dating change beyond recognition....

Alain Mabanckou: Rewriting the Congolese Story

Friday 21 August 17:30 - 18:30

On 18 March 1977 at 14.30, the third President of the People’s Republic of the Congo, Marien Ngouabi, is assassinated. In the frenzied aftermath, blame flies and ethnic divides widen, and far away, a family member is murdered for their alleged...
As part of the Book Festival's Outriders programme exploring the shifting landscapes of contemporary Africa, rising star of Scottish poetry Nadine Aisha Jassat embarked on a poignant journey across the south-east of the continent with Zimbabwe-based...
As part of the Book Festival's Outriders programme exploring the shifting landscapes of contemporary Africa, three UK-based writers with razor-sharp perspectives traversed the breathtaking landscapes of South Africa’s Cape Town. Drawn to the...

Wayétu Moore: Setting Liberia’s History Free

Wednesday 26 August 16:00 - 17:00

In 19th century Liberia, extreme powerlessness meets extraordinary powers in Wayétu Moore’s magical and magisterial debut She Would Be King. Melding historical record with magic realism and fantastical elements, Moore weaves an extraordinary...
As part of the Book Festival's Outriders programme exploring the shifting landscapes of contemporary Africa, we hear from award-winning writer Kei Miller, whose barnstorming latest poetry collection, In Nearby Bushes, was tipped as one of the best books...

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