Abeokuta is this picturesque and quiet city north of Lagos built around the legendary Olumo Rock. Every November, since 2013, it springs to life to host the Ake Art and Book Festival, thanks to the hard work and commitment of Lola Shoneyin and her team of dedicated staff members and volunteers.
Novelists, filmmakers, critics, artists, and even politicians troupe in for a five-day retreat, which they spend addressing burning questions about the continent in book chats, panel discussions, film screenings, art shows, and musical performances.
The third edition took place last month from the 19th to the 22nd, and I was there as an invited guest.
The whole place was bursting with excitement as people went from panel to panel where the likes of Taiye Selasi, Nnedi Okorafor, Mona Eltahawy, and the Nigerian statesman El Rufai participated as discussants.
Hundreds of images capturing all the action and fun were circulated on social media. But nothing quite captured Ake Festival like Victor Ehikhamenor’s portraits.
These photos of festival participants posing in front of a mosaic of Yoruba print fabric and smiling into the camera have become something of a tradition. They are radiant, colorful, and full of life. They capture a solitary moment with each participant away from all the action and festivity.
A collection of beautiful faces, these images give a new perspective on contemporary African intellectual communities.
Image by Victor Ehikhamenor