Wednesday, 18 November 2015


L-R Logistics Manager, Book Buzz Foundation (organiser of Ake Art and Book Festival), Afolabi Adelakun; Communications Manager, Ms Byenyan Bitrus; founder, Ake Art and Book Festival, Lola Shoneyin and Administration Manager, Ms Seun mabo last week at the media briefing in Abeokuta.

    This year’s Ake Arts and Book Festival opened yesterday at June 12 Cultural Centre, Abeokuta, Ogun State with ‘Engaging the Fringe’ as theme.

   However, one  regret  the  Lola Shoneyin-inspired festival has, and which is also widespread amongst festival organisers in the country, is that funding is hard to secure. But Shoneyin is lucky to have generated support from outside the country.
Although there is some level of support coming from Etisalat, Park in by Radison and Ogun State Government, funding from European Union is the main driver of the festival. This reflects the premium both government and corporate Nigeria place on cultural production. With President Muhammadu Buhari completely sidelining culture in his ministerial configuration, it couldn’t be worse for a sector Wole Soyinka aptly called an ‘orphan’.

    As   Shoneyin   put  it  at  a   briefing  last week to announce the festival, “We suffer from leaders not supporting creativity as much as there’s creativity on this African continent”.
However, for the author of The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives, Ake Arts and Book Festival “creates a space where Africa intellectuals, actors, scholars and writers converge for an honest conversation, to engage with one another and the outside world. My own personal experience organizing this festival is one of pure joy seeing wonderful people coming together to discuss. We don’t have enough high level conversation going on in Africa on issues plaguing us. It’s always about personal biases and religious convictions. Yes, bring your biases, but listen to the other side of the argument as well. “The writing space in Africa, Nigeria is very small. So, it’s important to engage all Africans to talk not only about what is wrong with it, but to also celebrate the literature”. One exciting aspect of this year’s festival, according to  Shoneyin,  is  the  festival’s collaboration  with  an  oil  service company, Marine Platforms, to bring writings from northern Nigeria to the mainstream. Beyond a prize to be instituted, Marine Platforms will help distribute books to schools in the northern as a way of encouraging reading and writing.“We will partner with Marine Platforms to send books to school libraries in northern Nigeria so as to help those children to be the best they can be,” Shoneyin said. “We will get 200 children to Ake, and get them involved in the book activities in collaboration with Lafarge Cement Company in creating awareness about environmental issues. All the authors to the festival will go to schools to inspire children”.
Ake Arts and Book Festival will witness a large gathering of writers, artists and filmmakers from Africa and Europe in the ancient city of Abeokuta from which the festival derives its name. As Shoneyin said of the festival’s name, Ake, “It’s from Abeokuta, a sort of magical place marooned in time. I’m interested in how best to retain the quaintness of the place. It’s also about drawing people to the countryside”.

Promoted by: thebrandradio blog.

One Comment

  1. Great article! I am glad that Africans are writing about issues that pertain to other Africans so that the issues can be addressed. Africans all over the world are plagued with issues that need to be addressed. Learning about the past is one great way for people to be able to understand why certain issues exist which is why I started a blog for my students. I want my students to be able to read about the problems people face around the world so that they will realize that simply answering multiple choice or short answer questions correctly in school will not solve all of their problems. I tell them that you have to learn how to communicate with people so that problems can be known about and solved.

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