Video: African Authors at 2017 Virginia Festival of the Book

Three African authors, all with roots in Nigeria (two living in the United States, the third a South African citizen), participated in a panel discussion at the Virginia Festival of the Book in Charlottesville on March 24.

The panel, called “Perspectives from Africa: Ndibe, Okupe, and Omotoso” and moderated by University of Virginia creative writing instructor (and author in his own right) Jeffrey Renard Allen, featured a memoirist and magazine editor, a novelist and television scenarist, and a graphic novelist who created the first African superhero.

Yewande Omotoso Virginia Festival of the BookAuthor of Bom Boy, South African novelist Yewande Omotoso read from her recent work, The Woman Next Door, in which, as described by Publisher’s Weekly, she

captures the changing racial relations since the 1950s, as well as the immigrant experience through personal detail and small psychological insights into mixed emotions, the artist’s eye, and widow’s remorse. Hers is a fresh voice as adept at evoking the peace of walking up a kopje as the cruelty of South Africa’s past.

Roye Okupe Virginia Festival of the BookGraphic novelist Roye Okupe explained how he left a comfortable job as a software engineer and web designer to pursue his dream of creating the first African comic-book superhero. Writing about “42 African Innovators to Watch” in AfrikaTech, Cynthia Okoroafor said

Thanks to Roye’s childhood dream, fans of comic books, graphic novels, and animations no longer have to look beyond the shores of the continent for superhero characters that they can idolise. Rather they can look to ‘E.X.O. – The Legend of Wale Williams’….

Based on his interest in comic books, movies, and entertainment, Roye decided to study graphic design, motion graphics and animation. Soon after, YouNeek Studios was born and Roye’s Nigerian superhero has been making headlines all over the world ever since.

Okey Ndibe Virginia Festival of the BookOkey Ndibe,, also the author of Foreign Gods, Inc., and co-editor of Writers, Writing on Conflicts and Wars in Africa (with Chenjerai Hove), read from his 2016 book, Never Look an American in the Eye, which was described like this by Publisher’s Weekly:

Ndibe’s memoir takes its name from the advice his uncle gave him when he left Nigeria to edit African Commentary magazine—advice that caused some problems when he was mistaken for a bank robber 10 days after he arrived in the U.S. Ndibe examines his development as a novelist, as well as the differences between Nigerian and American etiquette and politics. His novel Foreign Gods, Inc. was starred in PW and was an NPR Great Read of 2014.

The first hour of the panel discussion can be seen in this video, recorded at CitySpace on Charlottesville’s downtown mall:

The panel featuring Omotoso, Okupe, and Ndibe was sponsored by the Tom Tom Founders Festival.  The book festival continues through Sunday, March 26, at various venues in and near Charlottesville.