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Africana Literati: For Lovers of African Literature

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By Temitayo Olofinlua

Once in a while, you stumble on something different on television. That was how I found Africana Literati. Africana Literati is a television show about African literature, by a lover of African literature, for lovers of Africa. In a world where many complain about the loss of interest in reading, where this is the topic at many literary gatherings, Africana Literati opens up weekly conversations on books.

There are many things to love about Africana Literati. I start with its byline, “Love Africa, Read Africa”. One of the ways to introduce yourself to the continent is through its many books, books about several issues, books that capture phases in its history. In these days of “fast content” it will take true love to stay glued to books. In fact, this even makes one appreciate the programme—while a lot of television content focus solely on entertainment, Africana Literati straddles, education and entertainment conveniently.

Its back-to-school segment literally takes you back to school. The host, Isabella Akinseye, wears the hat of a teacher and the set is complete with a board and marker. In the school called Africana Literati, viewers learn new words, new pronunciations and new slangs from different parts of the continent. From the school, you head straight to the spotlight section and meet different African writers doing remarkable writing about the continent. There is a “top five countdown” revolving around several topics in the literary space: top five African literary events to attend; top five literary blogs, top five sci-fi African literary texts, top five African female playwrights, among others.

Viewers could also follow Harri Obi into the streets as he feels the pulse of Nigerians on different issues: literary adaptations or books? Reading for pleasure or grades? All time African novel? Reading an e-book or hard copy? Responses reveal many things about the average reader or books, no matter how few they are. There is also a review segment where the resident doctor of books, Wilfred Okiche reviews different titles. The reviews, a slice of the books, something to whet your appetite for more.

The fast paced thirty-minute show also is hosted by chatty Isabella Akinseye that makes books fun through informal discussions. This is not your usual slow style for book shows. Her upbeat voice keeps your mind open as it follows characters through books; as it takes you on a memory lane through history of Africa’s literary greats; as it takes you through book excerpts. She ties together all the different segments quite nicely.

In its second season already, Africana Literati’s first season was a modest introduction to the African book space while its second season grounded it in the rather small world of broadcast on the literary world.  It tried to cover East, South, West and North African literature through its several episodes. If the first season was enlightening, the second season remains engaging.

With Africana Literati, loving Africa is made easier through books. The show takes you by the hand into stories about the continent. On these trips, there is always something new to learn.

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