Powerful personalities for Abantu

Acclaimed Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie will headline the 3rd annual Abantu Book Festival in Soweto fresh from her viral conversation with former US first lady Michelle Obama at the weekend.

The 41-year-old that has written novels such as Purple Hibiscus, Half of a Yellow Sun and Americanah will make her appearance this afternoon as the festival kicks into high gear at the Eyethu Lifestyle Centre in Mofolo Central.

Her one-hour panel discussion with gender activist and award-winning author Pumla Dineo Gqola will take place between 1 and 2pm.

The festival kicked off last night in style at Soweto Theatre in Jabulani and will run until Sunday with a music concert. Performance poet Lebo Mashile last night was the host with an address by Dr Bibi Bakare-Yusuf and musical performance by Zuko Collective.

Since its inception on 2016 the festival has quickly established itself a platform that promotes black literary artists in Africa.

"The Abuntu Book Festival has become a cultural gathering for its participants, curated in the township of Soweto with the purpose of showcasing Africa's talented literary artists across various genres," founder and director Thando Mgqolozana explained.

"It provides a platform to capture and celebrate the art of literature, and is fast becoming an event highlight for African writers and those readers who value this form of artistic expression and the power of the written word."

Although the festival's core focus is on novels, it also caters for poetry performances, musical acts and film screenings.

There are also workshops and panel discussions on writing and publishing.

The line-up this year includes Kagiso Lesego Molope, Helon Habila, Novuyo Rosa Tshuma, Nozizwe Jele, Fred Khumalo, Jolyn Phillips and Lebohang Masango.

Entry at Eyethu Lifestyle Centre is free, while evening schedules at Soweto Theatre cost R20 per programme.

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