Pan African Writers’ Day Date in the current year: November 7, 2024

Pan African Writers’ Day Pan African Writers’ Day is celebrated annually on November 7 to promote the works of authors from the African continent and commemorate the founding anniversary of the Pan African Writers’ Association.

Although African literature isn’t a monolith – Africa is a very big and diverse continent, after all – the history of literature on the African continent can be roughly divided into three periods: precolonial literature, colonial literature, and postcolonial literature. Precolonial African literature was mostly oral in form, although written works from that period are abundant, too. The literature of the Maghreb region (Northwest Africa) is generally viewed as part of the Arabic literature.

During the colonial period, Africans were exposed to Western languages such as English, French and Portuguese, and began to write in those languages. The best known African works from that period are primarily slave narratives written for Western audiences; during the late colonial period, African literature began to shift towards themes of liberation, independence, and Black consciousness.

Postcolonial African literature has become increasingly diverse over the past decades. While some authors still write in Western languages, others prefer to write in their native languages. In 1986, English-language Nigerian author Wole Soyinka became the first post-independence and Sub-Saharan African writer to be awarded a Nobel Prize in Literature. Other Nobel laureates in literature from Africa include Naguib Mahzouf (Egypt/Arabic), Nadine Gordimer (South Africa/English), J. M. Coetzee (South Africa/English), and Abdulrazak Gurnah (UK-Tanzania/English).

The Pan African Writers’ Association (PAWA) was born as a part of the larger pan-African movement that aims to foster solidarity between all indigenous peoples of the African continent and African diasporas worldwide. It was founded by delegations from 36 countries at the Constituent Congress of PAWA that was held in Accra, Ghana on November 7–11, 1989.

The PAWA unites more than 50 national writers’ associations in Africa. The association’s key mission is to strengthen the bonds between African authors while acknowledging the continent’s cultural and linguistic diversity.

At the 1991 Conference of African Ministers of Education and Culture in Cotou, Benin, it was decided to declare the founding anniversary of the PAWA, November 7, as International African Writers’ Day. The holiday is now celebrated throughout the African continent, as well as by the global African diaspora.

In honor of Pan African Writers’ Day, the PAWA and other stakeholders organizes conferences, lecture, performances, workshops, competitions, readings, award ceremonies, and other events and activities to honor African writers and celebrate African literature. You can join the celebration by picking up a book written by an African author and broadening your literary horizons. And don’t forget to post on social media with the hashtag #PanAfricanWritersDay to spread the word and help promote African literature.

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Pan African Writers’ Day, Pan African Writers’ Association, international observances, cultural observances, African literature