DSC_8281-e1449663010960Abeokuta 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.

[You can read about my experience here here. Also here is Zahrah Nesbit’s beautiful piece about the festival.]

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.



Wana Udobang


Lola Shoneyin


Victory Ehikhamenor


Irenosen Okojie


Chris Abani


Emmanuel Iduma


Jumoke Verissimo


Adeola Fayehun


Nnedi Okorafor


Efe Paul Azino


Dami Ajayi


E. C. Osondu


Chijioke Amu-nnadi


Ayodele Morocco-Clarke


Yewande Omotosho


Rotimi Babatunde


Iquo Diana-Abasi Eke


Prof. Niyi Osundare


Image by Victor Ehikhamenor

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I'm finishing up a phd at Duke University where I study African novels, which I believe are some of the loveliest things ever written. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

4 Responses to “Celebrating the 2015 Ake Festival with Victor Ehikhamenor’s Stunning Portraits” Subscribe

  1. Hannah 2015/12/16 at 7:37 am #

    …after Rotimi Babatunde, Prof. Niyi Osundare…second to the last, Iquo Diana-Abasi Eke.

  2. Ainehi Edoro 2015/12/16 at 7:43 am #

    Hi Hannah!

    Thanks so much. I was hoping someone would help out. Happy Holidays!

  3. Hannah 2015/12/16 at 8:00 am #

    Hi, and you’re welcome!

    I missed meeting you at the Ake Festival, heard you had to jet out. I did get Obinna Udenwe to sign my copy of his book (he was the one who informed me you would be leaving). Some other time, I hope!

    Happy holidays to you too!

  4. Ainehi Edoro 2015/12/16 at 8:04 am #

    Would’ve loved to meet. Had to leave for another event. Ugh! Missed so much of the action. Happy you got to meet Obinna. Cool guy, right?

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

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