A preview of the Moto Books and Arts Festival 2022.
The Moto Books and Arts Festival was held at the Village Market Mall in Nairobi, Kenya from April 21-24, 2022. The theme of the festival was Ignite African Literature.
The concept of the Moto Book and Arts Festival, unveiled to the public in February, promised to bring together people in publishing and writing as well as the artistic community. The event powered by HalfPriced Books in partnership with the Village Market Mall ensured a platform for local and international authors, publishers, illustrators, booksellers, artists and brands to showcase their work and share emerging literary trends.
The event lasted three days and gave the people of Nairobi what they had been missing for a long time. Moto for those unaware means fire in Kiswahili and the event set the heat in Nairobi’s literary space. Here is a snapshot;
Panels where writers and other personalities in the literary space discuss their work or a hot topic related to their work in a public place are an important part of any festival. The Moto festival had three, starting with the discussion between Mshai Mwangola and Sitawa Namwalie on safeguarding cultural heritages through African literature. The other two panels, both moderated by enlightened blogger James Murua, were a conversation between Silas Nyanchwani (Sexorcised) and Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah (The sex life of African women) on their books. The last of the panels was “We Need New Names – The New Faces of Kenyan Literature” with Makena Maganjo (Best of South B) and Collins Sakwa Ongoma (Exile from Campus, Premium Tears).
One of the roles of a festival is to bring people up to speed in their industry and the Moto Festival has done this with three masterclasses to support those writing in Kenya. These were ‘How to Write a Book’ led by Muthoni Garland, ‘How to Publish a Book’ with Lucas Wafula and ‘How to Generate Book Sales’ with Abdullahi Bule of Nuria Books.
There were a few events that children attended and were excited about storytelling and writing with African children led by Melissa Wakhu alongside John Namai and his team, as well as the launch of the Tusome Hadithi podcast. The podcast which is an initiative of Kenyan poet (Njeri Wangari) and Lens Afrik group has children’s story narration by Caroline Mutoko, Eric Wainaina, Suzanna Owiyo, Dennis Ombachi, Chipukeezy and Silayo.
Exhibitors had the opportunity to show their works to those present, which were taken over by several people, including Centonomy with Waceke Nduati, Nuria Books, Magdalene Mathews Ofori-Kuma and several others.
The highlight of the festival was the exclusive gala dinner held at the Trademark Hotel on Saturday April 23. The evening was led by a celebrity host who unfortunately knew little about the writing and publishing industry and continued with jokes that left readers rolling their eyes (Example: I didn’t read since I was in school but at least now…). He should not be hired for these types of events in the future.
Aside from an inappropriate emcee (yes, he really pissed us off), the event was a perfect example of what a gala dinner is supposed to be. It included a speech by Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah who had been flown in for the festival as well as speeches by festival founder Mercy Kibira, publisher John Mwazemba, writer Kinyanjui Kombani, market business development manager from Dama Padwa village and a representative of the library’s Adopt-A-Initiative. There was also the launch of Teddy Warria’s book Son of the Nile.