by Zainab Akande

The 2020 Abuja Literary and Arts Festival (ALITFEST), set to highlight African literary and artistic talents, will be held this August, from the 13th to the 15th. Curated by the Abuja Literary Society, the three-day event will feature panel discussions, book chats, a poetry slam, writing competitions, poetry readings, and film screenings, and will also host an online art exhibition and a bookstore. The theme for this year is “The Art of Empathy.”

The festival was launched in 2018 to mark the 20th anniversary of the Abuja Literary Society. Its theme was “Nigeria to the World”. ALitFest18 was aimed at introducing the festival as well as Nigerian literature and arts to the world and by the end of the festival, marked by a spectacular show by Dike Chukwumerije’s Made in Nigeria theater show, it was clear that the Festival had succeeded.

The second edition, in 2019, was themed “Arts and Social Consciousness”. The young visionaries of the festival upped their game (and the cash prize of their poetry slam too) to include events that drew in more interesting participants and engage the audience.

The festival is in its third year, and, due to the coronavirus, will be held on Hopin (, a Webinar platform that includes a key networking component that allows attendees to interact via different means.

The guests, drawn from across the African continent, include the Booker Prize-longlisted Zimbabwean novelist Tsitsi Dangarembga; the Nigerian novelists Helon Habila, Oyinkan Braithwaite, and Odafe Atogun; the Nigerian poets Romeo Oriogun, Dike Chukwumerije, and Amarachi Attamah; the South African poet Athol Williams; the Nigerian writers Tolu Daniels, Eugene Yakubu, Daniel Orubo, and Commonwealth Prize winner, Innocent Chizaram Ilo; the Somaliland curator Jama Musse Jama; the Nigerian activist Dorothy Njemanze; the Ivorian translator Edwige Dro; and the Nigerian political commentator J.J Omojuwa.

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