With the COVID-19 pandemic hurting the economy, continued instability in the east and a political tug-of-war at the heart of government, the young administration of Félix Tshisekedi is trying to impose its will, seeking allies at home and abroad.
Coming up in 2010: Books, Festivals and Music
What to look out for on the African culture horizon in 2010.
Pearson’s recently revived Heinemann African Writers Series (AWS)approaches Christmas bearing gifts. It is commissioning several new titles and re-issuing some old favourites. Pearson is in negotiations with the family and executors of Dambudzo Marechera’s estate to re-issue Mindblast, one of the writer’s later works, and to re-issue House of Hunger and Black Sunlight. It also intends to publish work by some of its most gifted nationalist-era AWS writers, beginning with Sudanese writer Tayib Salih’s Wedding of Zain, and South African Bessie Head’s short fiction. E.C. Osondu (pictured), winner of the 2009 Caine Prize, has signed a two-book deal that will be eagerly anticipated. In this rich season of introspection, Oxford-based James Currey will publish two heavyweight biographies in 2010: Obi Nwakanma’s Thirsting for Sunlight about Nigerian poet Christopher Okigbo, whose death was described as the “single-worst tragedy of the Nigerian civil war”, and Roger Field’s examination of the South African writer and political activist Alex La Guma.
And the best of 2009
It is a big year ahead for music, with high-profile
releases and under-the-radar albums emerging. February will bring the
long-awaited international release of Senegalese singer Carlou D’s
album, a mixture of hip hop and spiritually-inspired acoustic roots.
Following that, a second collaboration between kora player Toumani
Diabaté and bluesman Ali Farka Touré, who died in 2006, is being
released. Their last album won a Grammy and this one promises to be
even bigger. The year’s big album will be the project that the Buena
Vista Social Club album was meant to be, with Africans playing
alongside Cubans. A visa mess-up in 1996 meant that the African
musicians missed their part in musical history. Eliades Ochoa will play
alongside greats such as Bassekou Kouyaté, Toumani Diabaté and Kasse
There will be no escaping football in 2010, with the two fulcrum points of the African Cup of Nations in Angola and the World Cup in South Africa. But the cultural diary is equally full, kicking off in January with the high-octane annual Festival au Desert in Essakane, Mali. In Kenya, Muthoni Garland is busy planning the third Storymoja Hay Festival for mid-2010 as well as a batch of plays and travelling literary festivals. Durban’s International Film Festival in late July and the Zanzibar International Film Festival in June will showcase the continent’s best cinema during West African FESPACO’s fallow year. After it was postponed from 2009, the third World Festival of Black Arts should take place in Dakar in December 2010, with a special focus on the cultures of Brazil.