Wole Soyinka and a young fan.
Wole Soyinka and a young fan.

If you are a lover of books and the arts, I guess it wouldn’t be news to you that Christmas came early this year for the universe of African Literature. The 2015 edition of Ake Arts and Book Festival was held from the 18th to 22nd of November at Abeokuta, a south-western city in Nigeria.

The festival featured book chats, photo exhibitions, panel discussions on topical issues, films, dance, poetry, etc.

What made Ake spectacular was not just that it hosted dignitaries and giants of the African literati but that it accommodated an interesting blend of people who otherwise could be referred to as ‘frienemies’.

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On one end, Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka, on the other Nigeria’s President Olusegun Obasanjo. Same with author Bingyavanga Wainana and Caine director Lizzy Attree.

Discussions and chats at the festival were insightful and more than once, Ake shut down social media-sphere with interesting controversies. First writer E. E. Sule spoke about religious fanatism and violence in Nigeria, suggesting that the concept of God be suspended entirely throughout the country.

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Then Rivers State Governor Rotimi Amaechi joked about his plans to steal a lot of money before leaving office. And of course, ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo reiterated his support for the nation’s anti-gay law, which resulted in online activists declaring him a homophobe.

Amidst all these, Ake supplied its attendees with undiluted clean fun. Bassey Ikpi dazzled us with her poetry as we sipped fresh palm wine and Kunle Afolayan shared his experience in collecting vintage cars. Toni Kan showed us how to flirt like a gent and Amu Nnadi tutored us in drinking. Liberian author Hawa Golokai learnt the Nigerian dance Shoki and Dro Edwige taught us how Cote d’Ivorians party. Wole Soyinka made us laugh heartily by mimicking the way Olusegun Obasanjo speaks, and Molara Wood captivated us with her beautiful newspaper dress.

There isn’t enough space to tell all the fun that Ake was, and it is needless to say that Lola Shoneyin pulled off the biggest and best African literature festival of the year at Abeokuta.

I will let the pictures tell more and leave you with this: “Miss not, next year’s”.

 

{All the images are courtesy SixthFrame Photography, TOJ photography, and Victor Ehikhamenor}

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