Bankslave will be Attending NBO LitFest: Mtaa Narratives

NBO LitFest is a literary festival birthed in 2021 to celebrate art, culture, and boundless knowledge that exists within Nairobi’s diverse neighbourhoods. This year’s edition, themed “Mtaa Narratives”, aims to explore and celebrate memories and stories that ground the Nairobians. It is purposed at unraveling the untold stories and ideas, through its vibrant public libraries, that shape Nairobi and its environs.

The 3-day event that takes place from 25th August to 27th August will be held across the three Book Bunk’s project libraries, namely; McMillan Memorial Library, Kaloleni Library, and Eastands Library. Note: Each of these libraries originally belonged to the colonialists who designed and established them to serve their then communities.

Book Bunk (New York Times article) is an initiative that was started in 2017 by Wanjiru Koinange and Angela Wachuka on the basis of their shared love for literature and storytelling. The purpose of the initiative is to transform Nairobi by restoring some of its most iconic public libraries into sites of “inclusivity, heritage, public art, collective memory, knowledge production, shared experiences, and cultural exchange.”

The festival is filled with a great lineup of panelists for insightful artistic discussions, entertainers for eclectic musical performances, and captivating children’s programs. There will also be a bookshop with titles of some of Africa’s most celebrated authors. Entry will be free, but attendees need to reserve their seats in advance via Eventbrite.

The entertainers at the event will include Polycarp Otieno of Sauti Sol, H_Art The Band, and Slim Shaka, among others. The authors will include Dr. Joyce Nyairo, Beverly Ochieng, Kevin Mwashiro, and Sitawa Namwalie, among others. Kenya’s renowned graffiti artist, Kevin “Bankslave” Esendi, will also be in attendance.

The festival will also pay tribute by recognizing the works and lives of Africa’s past literary giants who dedicated their lives to the art. The tribute will honor and celebrate the lives of the late Ken Walibora, Micere Mugo, Ama Ata Aidoo, and Keorapeste.

Below are the highlight of activities that will take place on each day and their respective locations (for the complete schedule of activities, visit NBO LitFest’s website).

Friday, August 25th (at Kaloleni Library): This is a children-focused day. Activities include storytelling sessions facilitated by LAM Sisterhoods, Polycarp Otieno, and Shiko Nguru. There will also be a film screening that highlights a pertinent issue of child trafficking at 1:30 pm.

Saturday, August 26th (Eastlands Library): Dubbed “Alternative Pages: Words and Pictures”, Edith Kimani will be facilitating a panel discussion on visual artistry. Her speakers will include thoroughly accomplished visual artists such as Kevin “Bankslave” Esendi (founding father of Kenya’s graffiti art), April Kamunde, and Chief Nyamweya.

Sunday, August 27th (at McMillan Library): From 3 pm to 4 pm, join Christine Mungai as she chats with some of Nairobi’s best rappers and songwriters as they explore how their pieces of art reflect the everyday life and ambitions of Nairobians. To wrap up the festival, 4:30 pm – 5:30 pm, join Sitawa Namwalie, Lola Shoneyin, and Lebo Mashile as they celebrate Africa’s literary giants aforementioned.

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