NIGERIA – Writers Get Set For Ake Book Festival

ACTU Shoneyin1

Niyi Osundare, Denis Mukwege, Colette Braeckman, others on the speakers list

This year’s edition of Ake Arts and Book Festival, a yearly literary feast in Abeokuta, the Ogun State Capital is set to begin.


From Tuesday November 17th through Thursday 21st, some of the globally reputed writers, filmmakers,  scholars, researchers will arrive the June 12 Cultural Centre, Kuto-Abeokuta, for the five-days event. The festival is packaged as a way of bringing together authors of African origin to showcase their best works to the public as well as establish Ake in Abeokuta as a notable literally spot in Nigeria


This year’s event was announced at a press conference hosted in Lagos this week by the chief director of the project, Mrs Lola Shoneyin, who founded the festival in 2012 in the company of the festival’s senior communication manager, Miss Byenyau Jessica.

According to Mrs  Shoneyin,  renowned poet, Prof. Niyi Osundare, Angolan writer and TV host Imanni Da Sylva, and Governor Nasir El-rufai of Kaduna State, are among top writers and resources people would  be at the event.  While Osundare will sit in a conversation with author and editor, Kunle Ajibade, Dr Olaokun Soyinka will also sit with Imanni Da Sylva and in another  panel moderated by Kadaria Ahmed.  Governor  El-rufai will talk aboutMinding the business of Africa with Howard French of the New York Times.


Theme for this year’s festival is Engaging the Fringe, and it will focus on the genres and creative endeavor that do not get the same attention as art forms considered as mainstream.


The Ake Arts and Book Festival which was conceived three years ago and now in its third season is a platform aimed at bringing together authors of African origin to showcase their best works to the public. It is also aimed at celebrating literary excellence among Nigerians, with particular emphasis of also exploring topics about African life and living in Africa in an honest, open and constructive way.

To ensure that the three -day event supersedes last year’s outing which was the second, the organisers are not leaving any stone unturned. As a result, the body is already doing everything possible to ensure an incomparable outcome.


The festival film, The Man Who Mends Women is based on Dr. Denis Mukwege, winner of the Sakharov Prize in 2014. Dr. Mukwege is internationally known as the man who treated thousands of women after they were raped and brutalised during the twenty year conflict in the East of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The screening will be followed by an interview session with the writer, Colette Braeckman and the director, Theirry Michel, hosted by Olaokun Soyinka. The festival will also be screening Ramata, a movie about a woman in her fifties who decides to follow a young Ngor Ndong on a journey to Copacabana where she starts a new life.


The five-days festival which holds in collaboration with Etisalat Nigeria, will also host the premiere of  Ifeoma Fafunwa’sHear Word!, The book is a powerful stage play that combines artistry, social commentary and true-life stories of inequality and transformation, delivered by some of Nigeria’s most talented actresses like Taiwo Ajai-Lycett, Joke Silva, Bimbo Akintola, Omonor, Elvina Ibru, Ufuoma McDermott, Zara Udofia, Lala Akindoju, Rita Edward, Debbie Ohiri and Odenike.


Other reputable stakeholders in the literary community have also confirmed to be at the event. The 16 books that will be discussed at the event include, Maaza Mengiste’s Beneath the Lions Gaze,  Pius Adesanmi’s Naija No Dey Carry Last, EC Osondu’s This House is not for Sale  Irenosie Okojie’s Butterfly Fish Chris Abani’s The Secret History of Las VegasMona Elthahawy’s Head Scarves and Hymens Nnedi Okorafor’s Lagoon,  Ekow Duker’sWhite Wahala Helon Habila’s Oil on Water Igonni Barret’s Black Ass Abubakar Adam Ibrahim’s A Season of Crimson Blossoms


Also billed to hold at the event are three documentaries that will be screened. They include, Behind the Veil,  a documentary that focuses on diversity issues in Nigeria, No Where To Run To:Climate Change and Nigeria’s Environmental Crisis. This documentary seeks to sensitize the general public and inspire stakeholders to support efforts to mitigate potential environmental crisis. Rolling Dollar: a legend unplugged celebrates the music late Fatai Rolling Dollar.


According to the programme of the event rolled out by the organisers, other highlight of the event will be a fiction writing workshop with Helon Habila, Taiye Selasi, and Nnedi Okorafor. This workshop will cater to 20 budding writers who want to improve their skills in writing fiction and learning how to prepare their work for publication. While there will be a commemorative exhibition in memory of felled environmental activist Ken Saro-Wiwa titled, Ken Saro-Wiwa: 20 Years On. An exhibition of photographs by Andrew Eseibo titledMargin and Marginalization and Tyna Adebowale’s Shadows and Dreams will also hold.The festival is collaborating with the Lagos State government to sponsor 100 Nigerian undergraduates schooling in Lagos to the festival.





Daily Times (Nigeria)