In Brussels, Belgium the first edition of the Asmara-Addis Literary Festival (in Exile) took place on the 8th of February, 2019. Considering Belgium’s chequered with Africa, Brussels is probably not the best location for this festival. However, a conversation between Eritrea and Ethiopia, countries which fought for over two decades and just recently reconciled, Brussels served a noble purpose, bringing together some of the most brilliant minds from the continent.
The festival’s founder, Eritrean-Ethiopian author Sulaiman Addonia spoke with This Is Africa. Addonia is a novelist who fled Eritrea as a refugee in childhood. He spent his early life in a refugee camp in Sudan following the Om Hajar massacre in 1976, and in his early teens he lived and studied in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
When asked why the planning of the festival took 10 years he said, “I think everything in life takes time that’s what I learnt throughout my experience. My novel took me 10 years for example. I have learnt to be patient and I was just waiting for the right moment. I think there is a right time for everything. Sometimes if you force things to happen, they never happen.”