Monday, November 30, 2015 4:36 pm
The 2015 Edition of the Ake Arts and Book Festival turned out to be a riveting kaleidoscope of fun and learning which art enthusiasts and participants will not forget in a hurry
For art enthusiasts, writers, poets, actors, filmmakers, photographers, artists and journalists from across Africa and beyond, the Ake Arts and Book Festival which held at the June 12 Cultural Centre, Kuto, Abeokuta from 17-21 November 2015 was the place to be. While the whole city of Abeokuta threw open its gates to receive all visitors to the third edition of the annual Festival, the venue itself was properly transformed to an artistic stage by an organizing team headed by Lola Shoneyin. Eighty two core participants and audience in hundreds fused to engage in book discussions and exhibition, drama, dance, screenings, songs, in an atmosphere that was perfect for a relaxed mingling of artistic minds.
The festival was a leveler of sort, as budding and published writers met accomplished and globally acclaimed ones who were all in their creative elements, evident through rich discussions on written works held at different halls within the venue, and the continuation of robust conversations during lunch and dinner breaks. Many of the talents present boast prizes earned in different genres of literature, art and music, and they gave a good account of themselves in the series of discussions where they were drilled by capable hosts and colleagues in the art business. At the end of it all, the writers in particular gave an insight into their motivation, adopted styles and the challenges they face in the course of being creative.
Throughout the event, there were photographs on display at the Exhibition Hall on Margin and Marginalisation by Andrew Esiebo, depicting social relevance and an alternative image of African women in a South African township setting. There were also portraits that attempted to capture the struggles of minorities in Africa, focusing on religion and spirituality. Tyna Adebowale’s 14 pieces under the title of Shadows and Dreams were also on exhibition, exploring the female form which is a major influence in her art.
The event’s openers on the first day were the School’s Environmental Awareness Day programme and the workshops on fiction and creating web Documentaries. On the second day of the event, more participants and guests were on ground, and many headed for the book exhibition hall, plunging into the rare opportunity of being able to select from the hundreds of works of outstanding writers across the globe, including all the works of all the writers present. The 2007 feature-length fiction film, Ramata, served as the nightcap. Guests also enjoyed film titled The Man Who Mends Women, and the rousing stage play, Hear Word by Ifeoma Fafunwa as closing events on subsequent days. The stirring poetry reading by Efe Paul Azino, vigorous dance performance by Qudus Onikeku and musical performance by Aduke will also not be forgotten in a hurry by guests present at the official opening ceremony where Governor Ibikunle Amosun Officially cut the tape to welcome all to the Ake Book Festival and the city of Abeokuta.
The wide spectrum of themes dwelt upon in the series of discussions and activities-with art and culture being at the core-include corruption, religion, sexual orientation and climate change. The panel discussions which came after relevant documentaries were moderated by hosts for each topic. Some of the hot topics discussed include: Writing Our Way out: Social Inequality in Africa; Nowhere To Run: Nigeria’s Environmental Crisis; Behind The Veil Documentary and Queer Narratives in African Fiction and Deadly Laughter:Satire and Public Consciousness in Africa.
The hosts and moderators include Kunle Ajibade, Maxim Uzoatu, Toni Kan, Kadaria Ahmed , Emma Shercliff, Eghosa Imasuen, Olaokun Soyinka, Ayodele Morocco-Clarke, Patrick Okigbo Zahrah Nesbitt-Ahmed and Kate Haines. On the evening of the last day of the festival, following Kunle Ajibade’s talk with the prolific poet, Niyi Osundare, the Palmwine and Poetry Session commenced, and as the wine flowed, poets including Osundare himself, Efe-Paul Azino, Jumoke Verissimo, Inua Ellams, the Host, Remi Raji interspersed the fun with poetry reading. The Festival’s closing party followed, after which the participants found their ways to their respective lodgings. Most of them would leave the next day with fond memories of a festival that is likely to bring them back next year.