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Ben Okri, Others for African Literature

Nigerian-born Booker award winning naturalised  British author, Ben Okri, will be the main attraction at the   4th edition of the Royal African Society’s (RAS) annual African literature and book festival scheduled for the British Library (Euston road), from Friday,  July 3rd till Sunday, July 5th.

Poet, essayist and author of 10 novels, including the 1991  Booker  Prize winning The famishedRoad, Okri, whose works have been translated into 26 languages, will take centre stage inside the British Library’s Conference Centre  in the evening of Saturday, July 4th , in a session tagged “Meditations on Greatness: Ben Okri in Conversation.” He will be discussing “African Books to Inspire.”

Other events lined up include “African Books to inspire,” which will be hosted on the Friday evening of the festival by Hannah Pool. During the session, a select group of writers and personalities will share their favorite titles of African literature. As expected of a literary festival of this nature, there will be a book fair and the festival will also provide an opportunity for aspiring African writers to have face-face meetings with book industry guests, who will then share vital information and tips on getting published with them.

Launched in 2012, the festival, United Kingdom’s biggest celebration of contemporary African writing, will showcase established and emerging talent from both within the African continent and its diaspora.  Last year’s edition featured “An Audience with Ama Ata Aidoo,” Ghana’s foremost author, poet, playwright and a former Minister of Education in her country. Three years ago, award winning author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, gave a lecture commemorating the 50th anniversary of the African Writers Series.

In a related development, the library will later in the year host a five-month exhibition, ‘West Africa: Cultures of the Word’ betweenOctober and February 2016. Curator of African Collections at the British Library, Dr. Marion Wallace, who also doubles as the lead curator for the exhibition, has been penciled down  to introduce the exhibition’s key concepts . The exhibition will explore the power of the word in the region and according to a statement on the library’s website, the exhibition will in addition, showcase West Africa’s complex and fascinating written oral literatures over the last three centuries. This will be done through a rich mix of visual items, sound, film and objects.

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