South Africa as a country with rich history, with a deep and diverse cultural experience, the Abantu Book Festival gives book lovers an opportunity to experience “the diverse literary heritage of this continent”.
Abantu Book Festival was born out of founder and director Thando Mgqolozana’s disillusionment with a feeling of exclusion and otherness African literary luminaries had to content with at festival around the world and in their own countries. This festival would reflect South African and African cultures in their glorious diversity. Every instalment of the Festival since the inception has lived up to this promise.
The 4th edition of the Abantu book festival was held at the Soweto Theatre from the 5th to the 8th of December 2019. The location of the festival is significant because Soweto is a historically significant township in Johannesburg.
The Book Festival held in Soweto is one of the biggest, hottest and coolest events of the year and features some if not most of the prominent authors poets and artists in South Africa. Like your typical Jazz Festival where people meet and listen to their favourite Jazz artists perform, the Abantu Festival is an event where book lovers meet and spend the day enjoying poetry, musical acts and attend workshops which dealt with different aspects of writing.
In our efforts to support African languages in education and black writers the Zenex Foundation saw an interest to partner with the Abantu Book Festival because the event focuses on literacy and promotes reading. Although the festival focuses on novels (both fiction and non-fiction), what makes the festival special is the participation of the renowned poets, authors, actors and scholars. The participants are not only South Africans but rather people from across Africa.
The Founder and Director of the Abantu Book Festival Thando Mgqolozana, in an email to the Foundation reflected on last year’s book festival by stating the following : “The 4th edition was the most successful iteration since inception, given the challenges we had to huddle over in the build-up and during the festival. It was cold, and it rained all four days of the festival, with floods in some parts of Soweto (and Gauteng), and we had to put up with 8-hour long bounds of load-shedding.
In spite of these challenges, not only did the festival proceed as planned, but was graced by multitudes of writers, performers and audience’s intent on nourishing their minds with the beauty of African literature. The Zenex Foundation congratulates the Abantu Book Festival on having another successful event and we are proud to have partnered with you in 2019. The stories of triumph against all odds are very encouraging and uplifting and we would like to see more positive stories out of the African continent.