The third edition of the Swahili Literary Festival kicked off from 5th to 8th of March 2021 at the Kilindini Cultural Center, Mama Ngina Waterfront, Mombasa. The emphasis was on women with an intention to explore their immense role in Swahili Heritage exemplified in traditional and modern practices. Conversations during this timely event hence varied from the role of iconic women in the Swahili Coast to the place of women in contemporary literature. Swahili Literary Festival is organized by Hekaya Arts Initiative, founded by Abdulrahman “Abu Amirah” Ndegwa and this year’s edition had a host of other prolific partners with a keen interest in the Swahili Heritage.

At a March 6th 2021 all-women Panel Discussion via Zoom moderated by Mombasa born Poet and Novelist, Khadija Bajaber, during the event, it was refreshing to encounter a wide range of topics being tackled. The panelists spoke passionately on nurturing a reading culture from a young age at the Kenyan Coast, nurturing writers who write in the Swahili Language, a need for more appreciation of the Swahili Language and the publishing hurdle especially at the Kenyan Coast among other relevant subjects.

With Literary Festivals across the continent being boldly intentional with the messages they would like to deliver, seeing women being given a platform just when the International Women’s Day Celebration was happening on the 8th of March, was indeed empowering to the women-folk at large. The next edition of the Swahili Literary Festival is one to look out for. Worth mentioning is that the Hekaya Arts Initiative Book Hub is a partner of Heroe Book Fair 2021. Together, they will be vending books by participant writers during and after the event.