Book Bunk and Hay Festival recently co-hosted the 2024 edition of NBO Litfest in Nairobi’s Kaloleni and Eastlands Libraries. Over 50 writers, artists and thinkers from Kenya, Africa and beyond were in attendance. Themes of protest, civic engagement and social change were among 30 sessions held at the festival this year.

This year was the festival’s third edition, with the tag a festival of ideas, and brought celebration of literature and free expression to Nairobi. The partnership also expanded the scope and impact of NBO Litfest, adding more Pan-African and international participants in dialogue with East African writers and creators about socio-cultural issues.

Book Bunk founders Angela Wachuka and Wanjiku Koinange featured Booker Prize winner Bernardine Evaristo as a guest on a live recording of ‘A Palace for The People’ podcast at the festival. Some of the creatives who spoke at the festival include storyteller Magunga Williams, Justine Wanda of the Fake Woke series, and Astar Njau of Cleaning The Airwaves. The speakers tackled digital storytelling in a conversation moderated by Anyiko Owoko of VIP ACCESS Podcast and Anyiko PR.

Image Copyright of Peter Irungu.

Writers Aminatta Forna OBE and Taiye Selasi spoke to BBC Africa’s Mercy Juma about the need for new narratives, regarding authors of African descent working abroad. Author Lola Shoneyin talked to historian David Olusoga about the impact of his work in rethinking black history.

Editor Nguru Karugu talked to photographer Sarah Waiswa and poet Ngartia Kimathi about identity, with Djamila Ribeiro exploring black feminism. Tevin Omwanza, a filmmaker and Amani Muthoni, a childrens’ book author, featured at the Children’s Festival, within a programme that included film screenings, live interactive readings and play groups.

Other activities included book signing sessions with authors, Nairobi flea market and live music performances that featured Kenyan singer Sanaipei Tande. The discussions held at the 2024 NBO Litfest challenged conventions and inspired change while fostering a rich environment for cultural exchange, political awareness and intellectual engagement.