Celebrating Africa’s Stories at the Marrakech African Book Festival

Marrakech, the enchanting city in Morocco, is renowned for its vibrant culture, historical landmarks, and bustling markets.  This year, from February 8th to 11th, 2024, the city will play host to another captivating spectacle – the Marrakech African Book Festival (Festival du Livre Africain de Marrakech – FLAM). This dynamic event celebrates the rich tapestry of African literature, offering a platform for authors, readers, and enthusiasts to connect and discover captivating stories.

FLAM 2024 will have the presence of several figures of African literature such as José-Eduardo Agualusa (Angola), Leïla Bahsaïn (Morocco), Abdelkader Benali (Morocco), Souleymane Bachir Diagne (Senegal), Ali Benmakhlouf (Morocco), Sophie Bessis (Tunisia), Siham Bouhlal (Morocco), Boum Hemley (Cameroon), Yasmine Chami (Morocco), Touhfat Mouhtare (Comoros), Fanta Dramé (Mauritania), Wilfried N’Sondé (Republic of Congo), Saad Khiari (Algeria) and Mia Couto (Mozambique).

According to Younes Ajarrai, the festival’s general delegate, this cultural event is of great importance in that it “helps to bring the peoples of the continent closer together, enabling each side to get to know the other and explore its imagination and way of writing and expressing itself.”

In an interview with the Moroccan Press Agency (MAP), he emphasised the objectives of FLAM, which “aims to contribute to achieving this rapprochement between the components of the African continent, with its secular history and many assets,” adding that “it is an opportunity to get to know each other better and combat negative stereotypes about the continent.”

Another innovation at this year’s event is the Giant Dictation Competition, a world first, he explained, adding that the dictation will be held in three languages: Arabic, French and English.

“We decided not to limit ourselves to the French language alone, but to broaden the idea to include our Arabic language and the widespread English language. In this way, we’re celebrating linguistic diversity in Africa,” he said.

To make a success of this competition, which will take place on February 10 and welcome 3,000 participants, the FLAM general delegate noted that 50 teachers of Arabic, English and French have been mobilised for the last 2 months to prepare the text that will be used in the competition.

It’s a text on the theme of “Mon Afrique à Moi,” (My Very Own Africa) which encourages us to get to know each other better, dispel negative stereotypes and at the same time encourage reading and writing”, he added.

The success of the Marrakech African Book Festival will pave the way for even more vibrant editions in the years to come.  The focus on African literature, the emphasis on cross-cultural exchange, and the commitment to promoting reading among younger generations ensure that the fair continues to be a beacon for the literary world.  As book lovers return home, inspired by the stories encountered and the connections made, the anticipation for the next edition of this extraordinary literary event surely begins to brew.

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