Hay Festival Global and Book Bunk unveil NBO Litfest 2024 programme, 27–30 June

Hay Festival Global and Book Bunk have announced the full programme for the 2024 NBO Litfest, taking place 27–30 June 2024 in Nairobi, Kenya. Guests include Bernadine Evaristo, David Olusoga, Amitav Ghosh, June Gachui, Taiye Selasi, and more. 

Created by Book Bunk in 2021, NBO Litfest is a burgeoning biennial event on the international stage. Over one weekend in Nairobi’s Kaloleni Library, Eastlands Library and McMillan Memorial Library, this year’s event will bring over 50 local and international writers together with readers for an ambitious programme of over 32 conversations and performances. 

Launched at Hay Festival Hay-on-Wye 2024, the NBO Litfest programme features masterclasses, a children’s festival, conversations film screenings and performances taking place across three iconic public libraries in Nairobi.

Explore the full programme online now at nbolitfest.com. 

Through its partnership with Hay Festival Global, NBO Litfest seeks to increase its international presence, expand its audience reach and take place annually. 

Hay Festival, one of the world’s leading cultural charities, was founded in Hay-on-Wye, Wales in 1987, providing audiences with dynamic platforms to come together to share ideas, different perspectives and provoke conversations that can create a better world. 

This new collaboration is the next chapter of the Festival’s South-to-South programme, forging creative connections across the Global South through events and partnerships. The projects are supported by funding from the Open Society Foundations. 

The British Council is supporting the partnership between Hay Festival and Book Bunk as part of its Kenya 2025 season, which celebrates creativity and innovation through the arts, culture and education in the UK and Kenya. 

The upcoming Nairobi event also marks a return to the city for Hay Festival Global, following six years of the Storymoja Hay Festival, which ran 2008-2013.

Hay Festival Global CEO Julie Finch said: 

“As an international charity, we reach millions of people every year through our one-of-a-kind Festivals, Forums, programmes, and digital platforms. We are delighted to partner Book Bunk as co-hosts of this year’s NBO Litfest, continuing our South-to-South series in new and engaging ways for audiences in Nairobi.”

Hay Festival Global International Director Cristina Fuentes La Roche said:

Together with our Book Bunk colleagues we are celebrating the best of local and global literature at NBO Litfest 2024, inviting artists, writers and thinkers to share their stories and explore new perspectives and solutions to our shared problems. By forging new connections between our teams in Mexico, Peru and Colombia in this exciting new chapter in Kenya, we deepen our South-to-South project further.”“

Wanjiru Koinange, co-founder of Book Bunk, said: 

“Book Bunk’s origin story began with a literature festival - so this is a great full circle moment for us. NBO Litfest celebrates the role libraries play as inclusive spaces where we can convene to discuss and attempt to solve some of our world’s most pressing problems. So we’re elated to expand the scope of our festival through this partnership and we welcome you all to come experience our world.”

Programme in depth

The festival begins on Friday 28 June with a day of masterclasses featuring writers, journalists and public speakers at the height of their craft, including Bernardine Evaristo, Shafinaaz Hassim, Mercy Juma, Beverly Ochieng and June Gachui.

Events for children and young people include an African Story Box Time with Orpah Agunda; director Tevin Kimathi and kid actor Kael Wafubwa show their new film, Stero; live and interactive readings with Taiye Selasi, Amani Muthoni and Sihle-isipho Nontshokweni; story writing masterclass with Sihle-isipho Nontshokweni; plus live music. 

Some of the world’s biggest questions are tackled in panels including author Amitav Ghosh and activist Elizabeth Wathuti on the climate crisis; human rights activist Joumana Haddad and Brazilian writer Djamila Ribeiro on feminist fury; award-winning journalists Jon Lee Anderson and Sevgil Musaeva explore the perils of speaking out; and technology rights defender Alex Gakuru joins artists working in the digital realm Chidi Nwaubani and Naddya Adhiambo Oluoch-Olunya for a discussion on AI.

Questions around identity come to the fore as writers Aminatta Forna OBE, Taiye Selasi and Ndinda Kioko talk to Mercy Juma about the African in the diasporas; journalist Edith Kimani talks to historian David Olusoga about the impact of his work in rethinking black history; editor Nguru Karugu talks breaking taboos with photographer Sarah Waiswa and poet Ngartia ; writers and activists Zakaria Ibrahimi and Cyrine Ghannouchi talk to Nesrine Malik about decolonising perspectives on social media; and Djamila Ribeiro and Brenda Wambui explore Black Feminism.

Artists offer insights into their craft as writing pair Ibrahima Balde and Amets Arzallus join visual artist Kamwathi Peterson Waweru to explore how art helps us tell the hardest stories; content creators Justine Wanda, Swiry Nyar Kano and Astar talk digital storytelling with publicist Anyiko Owoko; poet Nombeko Nontshokweni, Kiswahili author Edwin Omindo and lawyer Deborah Tendo share insider publishing tips; author Sihle-isipho Nontshokweni helps her mother, Nombeko Nontshokweni fulfill her life-long dream of publishing a treasured 40-year-old manuscript in South African documentary, uNobuntu; and Booker Prize winning novelist Bernardine Evaristo discusses crafting spaces for underrepresented voices.

Hay Festival Global projects continue to spread new ideas around the world. The Lviv BookForum Series event sees author Adania Shibli, journalist Sevgil Musaieva, and historian David Olusoga explore their memories of home; while a panel of acclaimed writers revisit the Hay Festival Africa39 project a decade on, including Edwige-Renee Dro, Richard Ali A Mutu, Shafinaaz Hassim and Stanley Gazemba.

Celebrating UNESCO's International Decade of Indigenous Languages (2022 - 2032), author Richard Ali A Mutu, journalist Nesrine Malik, writer Mia Couto, and Ivorian writer and translator, Edwige-Renee Dro talk the importance of indigenous languages; meanwhile film producer  Mumo Liku joins LOOTY founder Chidi Nwaubani to talk radical acts of reclamation.

Over the past year, Hay Festival has delivered 12 editions in seven countries: Colombia, Peru, the USA, Mexico, Spain, Ukraine and the UK. A total of 1,111 individual events featured 2,018 artists with 315,395 tickets sold and 6.7million web views. Meanwhile, year-round education and outreach programmes reached 15,081 school pupils.

The world’s greatest writers, thinkers and performers have taken to the Festival’s stages over the years, including Arthur Miller, Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, Margaret Atwood, Arundhati Roy, Naomi Klein, Edward Said, Alice Walker, Hugh Masekela, Jimmy Carter, Seamus Heaney, Zadie Smith, Dua Lipa, Stormzy, Nadine Gordimer, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Martin Amis, Paul McCartney, Desmond Tutu, Jane Fonda, and Hillary Clinton.