In Summary
  • KPA says NIBF will “have 66 local exhibitors and 15 international exhibitors from China, Egypt, Uganda, Korea, Senegal, Iran, Tanzania, South Africa, India, Pakistan, US and Nigeria.
  • Macondo begins with workshops focusing on history and literature, before the opening ceremony at 4.30pm on Friday, September 27.

The Nairobi International Book Fair (NIBF), the Kenya Publishers Association’s end-of-the-year festival, is here once more. It will run from September 25 to 29 at Sarit Centre, Westlands, Nairobi. This annual books and literary festival is in its 22nd year. It is probably the most significant event in Kenya’s annual art and culture calendar.

29,000 VISITORS

In the five days of the festival, there will be prize-giving ceremonies involving schools and learners, writers’ workshops, training for teachers, literary conferences and book signings by authors, all culminating in the Text Book Centre-Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature awards to winning authors and publishing houses for the year 2018/2019.

KPA says this year they will “have 66 local exhibitors and 15 international exhibitors from China, Egypt, Uganda, Korea, Senegal, Iran, Tanzania, South Africa, India, Pakistan, US and Nigeria. Exhibitors range from publishers associations, digital publishers, book publishers, self-publishers, authors, printers, embassies, NGOs and government departments.”

Considering that KPA reports that they had more than 29,000 direct visitors to the festival in the five days, one would imagine that the national and county governments would want to get involved. Thousands of schoolchildren visit the fair to meet authors, attend workshops and exhibitions and buy books. The ministries in charge of education, culture and national integration should be key partners of this festival.

TRANSNATIONAL

Yet every year one does not see and feel the presence of the government. This year, KPA will host Egypt’s Minister for culture Dr Ines Abdel-Dayem, from 9am to 1pm on September 26, as the chief guest. Anyone familiar with the history of Egypt knows the premium that ancient and contemporary Egypt put on literacy and education. Egypt is a major centre of learning in North Africa and the Middle East, and the country gives scholarships to Kenyan students to study in its universities.

What adds more flavour to this year’s book fair is that it will also host the African Writers Conference (AWC) between September 27 and 29. The conference is a collaboration between the African Writers Development Trust and the Writers Guild Kenya. The AWC will involve a series of events, which will end in the “unveiling of the 2019 African Writers Awards”. The awards will be in four categories: African Writer of the Year for Short Stories; African Writer of the Year for Poetry; African Writer of the Year for Flash Fiction and African Writer of the Year for Children’s Literature. The conference seeks to invoke the spirit of a transnational African literary connection that was so common in the 1960s to the 1970s.

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