The 2nd Edition of Heroe Book Fair successfully took place at The Close The Gap Hub at Ratna Square Mombasa from Thursday, May 5th 2022 all the way to Saturday, May 7th 2022. It was organized by Lorna Likiza, Children’s Book Author and The Founder of the Fair and Hans Hofele, The Founder of Culture Africa, a Society and Cultural Website focused on Africa. The Keynote Speaker was supposed to be Award winning Zimbabwean Writer and Lawyer, Petina Gappah. However, due to recent bereavement, she was understandably, unable to give her speech and therefore excused.

When compared to the 1st edition, this year’s edition saw an increase in book vendors who were able to sell and display their books and material with Ally Baharoon, a writer from Zanzibar, Paukwa Kids, an educational entity from Nairobi, Sakina Taki, a Nairobi based poet and mental health advocate, Grace Kagema, a Mombasa based writer, Fatma Khadija Memorial Library Mombasa and Close The Gap Hub occupying the stands.

Day 1 – Thursday, 5th May 2022

Day 1 of the fair saw a short opening ceremony with Laurent Kuligha from Close The Gap Hub, Wendy Njoroge from Soma Nami Books and Lorna Likiza, The Founder of Heroe Book Fair giving short speeches of welcome. The rest of the activities for that day were dedicated to African Children Literature.

There was a virtual conversation on The State of Children and Young Adult Literature with Dr. Xolisa Guzula from Puku Foundation and University of Capetown and Okenna Nzelu, an Editor of London based African Children Books Publishing House, Bright Lights Books, participating in it. This was followed by a Children Comic Book Workshop facilitated by the Belgian Embassy in Kenya, one of our partners. The workshop was conducted by two Belgian Comic Strip Authors, Eliot Vandenheede and Julia Reynaud. Pupils from Future Hope Montessori School Vipingo, were workshop attendees.

The afternoon sessions included, a book reading by South African Writer, Lorato Trok, from her published biography for young readers, Rosina Sedibane Modiba: A Dream Denied. In this book, we got to learn of the South African athlete, Rosina, who competed in the 70s during the apartheid period and how she coped amidst the oppression at the time.

Aided by Wendy Njoroge from Soma Nami Books, Kenyan writer of The Amani Series for children, Wambui Mathenge, launched her books. The day wrapped up with Canada based Ekiuwa Aire, launching her beautifully illustrated book for children, Njinga of Ndongo and Matamba.

Day 2 – Friday, 6th May 2022

Day 2 of the fair kicked off with a session for school kids conducted by Paukwa Kids. Pupils from Future Hope Montessori School Vipingo, Busy Bee Chui School Mombasa and Busy Bee Tudor School Mombasa participated in this session. At around the same time, a hybrid conversation on The Usage of Kiswahili in East African Literature was underway with Georginah Makini, a PhD Student in Kiswahili at Moi University giving her insights virtually while Ally Baharoon, the Author of Freedom of Flight gave his while physically on location. The conversation was conducted in Kiswahili.

The panel discussion in French, L’avenir Des Traductions Dans La Littérature Francophone (The Future of Translations in Francophone Literature) was supposed to happen next but due to a confusion with time zones and technical issues on one of the participants end, it unfortunately did not happen as planned. The Comic Books Workshop intended for Adults also did not take place due to a low turnout.

However, despite the morning hitches, the afternoon was particularly lively with Bene Lu from South Africa reading and discussing virtually her poems in her poetry collection, It is What It Is. Next up was Sakina Taki, a Mental Health Advocate and Poet from Kenya, reading and discussing her poems from her poetry collection, My Little Yellow Book. And it did not stop there. Albert Mwamburi Founder of the Historical Online Magazine, Pwani Tribune, from Kenya, read and discussed intensively his poem, It Tolls For Thee: The Frere People and the Historic Kengeleni Bell, which touches on a bit of the Kenyan Coastal history of the Frere people.

The day ended with Rwandan/Kenyan Writer, Patrick Byiringiro launching and discussing his memoir, Quoi Encore? (What Now?)

Day 3 – Saturday, 7th May 2022

The last day of the fair started with yet another Paukwa Session with pupils from Future Hope Montessori School, Busy Bee Chui School Mombasa and Busy Bee Tudor School Mombasa in attendance. There was a panel discussion, Addressing The Issue of Gatekeeping in African and Black Publishing which was moderated by Sandra Tamele, the Founder Editor of Editora Trinta Zero Nove in Mozambique. Nyiko Mthembi from Tivisa Publicity South Africa and Kadija George, representing Peepal Tree Press in the UK participated in the panel.

Unfortunately, the scheduled conversation centered on Kenyan Khadija Bajaber‘s, The House of Rust with Muthoni Muiruri and Wendy Njoroge from Soma Nami Books failed to take place due to time difference factor on the Author’s part, who was at the time in the US on a writer’s fellowship, with apologies. However, J.D. Kizza from South Africa made up for this afterwards with a lively book launch of her African Romance, The Journals of He: The Beginning.

The afternoon session entailed another book launch of We Must Learn to Sit Together and Talk a Little About Culture: Decolonizing Essays 1967-1984 by Jamaican Sylvia Wynter. Demetrius Eudell from Peepal Tree Press UK conducted the launch on her behalf and it was moderated by the founder of Heroe Book Fair, Lorna Likiza.

The fair closed with a short closing speech from Lorna Likiza, which acknowledged most of the attendees who had made it to the event either as participants or guests. We were particularly honored this year to have in attendance, the entire fair duration as a guest, James Murua, from James Murua Literary Blog, a platform which highlights African and Black Literature.