A new Africa at the forefront of the world’s stage

The festival of a rising Africa

5 février 2013.
The African Cypher © Fly on the wall


An old world is dying and with it so are most of our bearings, while a new world is born in chaos and turmoil, but bursting with energy. Crises, convulsions, terrible tensions, bottomless destruction, the prodigious emergence of monstrous megalopolises, the sudden rise of new generations imposing new sounds and rhythms and voices : truly a brave new world. And a new Africa that intends to find its place at the outset of the 21st century.

Africa is moving at a furious pace. This is what the philosopher Achille Mbembé wrote two years ago in a well-known essay called “Sortir de la grande nuit” (“We must get out of the great night”). Africa is calling into question our conventional ideas. Artists, writers and poets depict the outlines of that new Africa.
We felt that this literary event had to meet the challenges of modern times : we wanted Africa to be present, to take its place alongside of the rest of the world, to discuss this new world with other cultures. We wanted to bring the whole of Africa together, in all its diversity, by inviting the best writers of the world.

With this in mind, we will launch the Brazzaville Etonnants Voyageurs Festival in the second week of February 2013. Our ambition is for that event to reflect the greatness of the continent.


Etonnants Voyageurs was created in 1990. Over the years, it has asserted its credibility as a new genre of greatly innovative literature (and now also cinema) festival in Saint-Malo, open to literatures of the entire world. Today it is the largest literature festival in France.

Etonnants Voyageurs Bamako’s Festival

The festival has never stopped growing over the years with events in the US, Dublin, Sarajevo, Bamako, Port-au-Prince. Ongoing projects include events in Quebec and Trieste.
In 2001, Etonnants Voyageurs launched an African version of the festival in Bamako. This event was a springboard for an entire new generation of African writers who were propelled to the fore of the literary scene. Alain Mabanckou, Abdourahman Waberi, Kossi Efoui, Fatou Diome, Sami Tchak and many others took their first steps during that event. The 2002 Saint-Malo Festival, dedicated to new African literature, was a momentous kick-start for these writers : more than 2,500 articles (source : Argus) were published, countless radio and TV shows were broadcast and all defined the Etonnants Voyageurs Festival as the literary event of the year !
Headed by Alain Mabanckou and Michel Le Bris, the Brazzaville Festival is a new adventure. Special tribute will be paid to Bamako, which remains linked to this event.


We submitted this project to the greatest African writers and friends of Africa : all were enthusiastic and felt that this initiative was both necessary and in line with the challenges of this new era. Together they formed a sponsoring committee, as a pledge of independence. Their support has been and remains precious to us.
The committee is made up of Mark Behr, Breyten Breytenbach, André Brink, Patrick Chamoiseau, Florent Couao-Zotti, Mia Couto, Ananda Devi, Christiane Yandé Diop, Emmanuel Dongala, Alaa Al-Aswany, Nuruddin Farah, Helon Habi- la, Koffi Kwahule, Dany Laferrière, JMG Le Clézio, Henri Lopes, Achille Mbembé, Leonora Miano, Erik Orsenna, Boualem Sansal, Sami Tchak, Dominic Thomas, Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, Abdourahman Waberi and Michel K. Zongo.

A.El Aswany