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7th- 9th October 2021

Celebrating Nairobi’s oldest Library at 90!

The inaugural NBO Litfest is a free virtual festival anchored in Nairobi’s public libraries and featuring stories and ideas emerging from Nairobi and other regional spaces. It is a celebration of public libraries as spaces for art, culture, and knowledge production.

Themed Writing African Cities, this edition celebrates the 90th anniversary of McMillan Memorial Library, Nairobi’s oldest library. Programming offers include;

Literary Programming

Dramatised storytelling sessions from Kaloleni Library, for children and young adults. A Musical Theatre performance, from McMillan Memorial Library. Panel discussions, writers in conversation, presentations, and a public lecture. Live webinars will feature literary voices from across the world!

McMillan at 90

What role do public libraries play in a time of shaky global realities? In line with our work restoring some of Nairobi’s most iconic public libraries, we feature conversations and panel discussions about public libraries and their role in society today.

Live concerts

Public libraries as performance spaces? Yes! Music Bunk features acoustic performances styled around the libraries’ grand furniture and collections. Inspired by NPR’s tiny desk concerts, these series of events aim to convert some of the physical events that we would host at the library into virtual experiences that can also be archived digitally.



Day 01


The festival kicks off with Book Bunk’s founders, Wanjiru Koinange and Angela Wachuka, providing an overview of NBO Litfest, the inspo behind this first edition, and how it is informed by our work restoring #NRBLibraries.

Later, join us at sundowner o’clock for a conversation about writing cities with Rémy Ngamije. We talk about his debut novel, The Eternal Audience of One and how this story relates to cities, their nuances, strangeness, quirks, beauty and everydayness. How do we harvest from and document cities? Join us or a journey through Windhoek, Nairobi, Cape Town and Kigali.



Day 02


Huddle the little ones and tune in to storytelling from Kaloleni Library with Wangari the Storyteller! Later, Bettina Ng’weno and Njane Mugambi tell us about the historical significance of Kaloleni; how did social amenities shape Kaloleni and Eastlands as a whole? Tune in to find out! 

We end the day in conversation with two writers; award-winning South African writer Lauren Beukes takes us through her journey writing comics and getting them adapted for film and TV. Closer to home, Wanjiru Koinange tells us about her best-selling debut, The Havoc of Choice, and reflects on the power of literature with Glasgow Women’s Library’s Wendy Kirk.



Day 03


Start your day with a musical! Tune in for a performance by The LAM Sisterhood and Wanja Wahoro (WaLAM) about the life of Field Marshal Muthoni Wa Kirima, the highest-ranking soldier in Kenya’s Land and Freedom Army!

Later, we explore the potential for public libraries to shape our world with Eric Klinenberg & Dr. Wangui Kimari. Billy Kahora joins us with Muthni Garland to speak about how cityscapes and other landscapes inform their writing, while superstar editor Ellah Wakatama delves into the world of young adult fiction with Namina Forna. Don’t miss our panel on the late Binyavanaga Wainaina, featuring Kenyan writers reflecting on his intellectual legacy.

Let’s close it up with a jam session; Tetu Shani rocks our screens from Eastlands Library!


We imagine that public libraries can be steered to become more than just repositories, acting as sites of knowledge production, shared experiences, cultural leadership, and information exchange. We see them as sites of heritage, public art, memory and as critical spaces in Nairobi and Kenya’s creative economy ecology.

Many thanks to our #NBOLitfest fiscal and programming partners for collaborating with us on this programming!