In 2008, Storymoja, a recently formed publishing company decided to take on the challenge of popularizing reading for everyone. Storymoja’s main business is in publishing, its vision to place ‘A Book in every Hand.’
What better way to start that great adventure by connecting reading to Kenya’s favourite past times! Having considered that the most recognizable Kenyan past time is Nyama Choma afternoons with family and friends. Storymoja thought to put together books, storytelling, nyama choma, family and friends. And that is how the Storymoja Nyama Choma Storytelling Festival came to be on 2nd December 2008.
In 2009, Storymoja decided to partner with The Hay Festivals to create and bring together the Storymoja Hay Festival. The Hay Festival of literature and arts in UK is an annual literary festival that lasts for ten days. The inaugural Storymoja Hay Festival started off as a three-day event with over 60 events that brought together different creatives, writers, poets and et cetera.
In 2013, the Storymoja Hay Festival saw its most momentous festivals, which was sadly, disrupted by the terror attacks in Nairobi Westgate Mall. One of the main festival guests, Professor Kofi Awoonor, lost his life at the Westgate Mall.
The Storymoja Hay Festival continued as an annual event until 2014, when the Festival had its status change from being one of the worldwide Hay Festivals administered by Hay Festival UK, to being a Sister Festival of the Hay Festival UK.
In 2014 and 2015, the festival appeared as the Storymoja Festival.
In 2016, the Storymoja Festival took a detour to Accra, Ghana in memory of the late Professor Kofi Awoonor.
The Storymoja Festival returns to Nairobi on the 27th of September to 1st of October 2017. With this edition, the Storymoja Festival will officially turn 10 years old from the first time it appeared as a Nyama Choma Reading Fiesta!
It will be a five day international celebration of ideas, stories, writing and culture through books, live discussions, storytelling, skits, poetry, music, demonstrations, workshops, open mikes, debates, exhibitions, live performance, art and competitions.
In the past, the Storymoja Festival has been described as ‘the biggest book party’ in East Africa, and as a ‘celebration of books, stories and culture’. Storymoja Festival has fast gained reputation for being a vibrant gathering of the greatest minds in Kenya and beyond.
The Theme of the 2017 Storymoja Festival is Black Peace. This theme is apt as it comes at a time when the entire world is concerned with the politics of identity. The 2017 Storymoja Festival will also fall exactly 10 years after the 2007/08 Post election violence, as well as on an election year in Kenya. It will be interesting to see how this theme will play out in conversations on writing, art, theatre, policy, business, identity and so on throughout the festival
The 2017 program will have a full offering of book discussions, public lectures, master classes & workshops, art & theatre shows, concerts, schools, children’s, and family programs throughout a five-day program.