Port Harcourt, Rivers state, Nigeria will be agog from the 15th to 20th of October 2012. The 5th edition of the Garden City Literary Festival is set to celebrate female writers and writings across Africa. Books written by women constitute the majority of the books selected for discourse at the festival, including Chibundu Onuzo’s ‘The Spider King’s Daughter’ (long-listed for this year’s Dylan Thomas Prize); Noo Saro-Wiwa’s ‘Transwonderland: Travels in Nigeria’ and Doreen Baingana’s ‘Tropical Fish’. Of the eight selected books, only two were penned by men; Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka’s ‘Death and the King’s Horseman’ and Elechi Amadi’s ‘The Concubine’. The theme for this year’s gathering which is quite appropriate considering its thrust is “Women in Literature”.
The event, which was inaugurated in 2008, is organised by Koko Kalango’s Rainbow Book Club (RBC) in collaboration with the Government of Rivers State and the University of Port Harcourt. It will feature African and international female writers addressing issues that revolve around the theme. Chief amongst them is Ivorian Veronique Tadjo, a writer, poet, novelist and artist who has facilitated workshops in writing and illustrating children’s books in Mali, Benin, Chad, Haiti, Mauritius, French Guyana and South Africa amongst others. She gained a doctorate in African-American Literature and Civilization at the Sorbonne and has been head of French Studies at the University of Witwatersrand since 2007. She will deliver the keynote speech on Tuesday, October 16 at the Ebitimi Banigo Hall of the University of Port Harcourt. *[With the recent unrest that involved students of that institution, we do not know if this is still plausible].
Lizzy Attree, the administrator of the Caine Prize for African Writing is also billed among this illustrious lot; Nigerian poet and novelist Lola Shoneyin, Ugandan writer Doreen Baingana, Noo Saro-Wiwa and Chibundu Onuzo (the youngest woman ever to be signed to the publishing firm of Faber and Faber) will also be present.
The festival also includes the Garden City Book Fair and various writers’ workshops during which aspiring writers will have the opportunity to learn from senior colleagues and mentors. There will also be interactive sessions with authors, performances and writing, drama and arts workshops facilitated by Sola Alamutu’s Children and the Environment (CATE) and Polly Alakija, a children’s author based in the UK. This will take place at the Hotel Presidential, GRA.
He who educates a boy educates a village; but he who educates a girl child educates a nation. African women are excelling in all spheres. What is your excuse? Go rub minds with these literary giants, remember that iron sharpens iron. See you there!