7 Nov 2014

Hot On Our Radar: Lagos Book and Art Festival.



One of the major complaints I hear from young people who love to read and write is that there are no cultural events that celebrate a reading and writing culture. Add this to the not so slow decline of literacy and the terrible reading culture currently in Nigeria, book festivals are a great and welcome thing. This is why when I heard the first rumors that there was going to be a Lagos Book and Art Festival, I have to admit I was ecstatic. Well the LABAF is no longer a rumor, it’s been confirmed and even has a website and a date set. This is really happening people.

Imagine my surprise when I went trolling the internet for information on the festival and I stumbled on their website. It turns out that the Lagos Book and Art Festival has actually been running for fifteen years with varying degrees of publicity. The 2014 LABAF will be the sixteenth edition of the festival. This year’s festival is extra special because it’s a commemorative year organised in celebration of Prof. Wole Soyinka’s 80th birthday and will celebrate his achievements over the last fifty years he has been active as a writer. There have been a lot of events celebrating Prof. Soyinka’s becoming an Octogenarian, with the Ake Festival which holds in Abeokuta, his hometown on the 18th to the 22nd of November this being the culminating literary festival.

I could rephrase whatever I put up, but I think the blurb on their website is so well put together I’ll just replicate it here.

Each passing day brings down the curtain on 2014. How far have you come from 2013?

The Lagos Arts and Book Festival travelled a thematic journey from Lagos Story in 2013 to Freedom and the Word—the theme for this year’s festival. It is a natural progression, because to tell a story is to gift another with insight, and only in freedom can one truly give or receive.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall; the 20th anniversary of South African democracy; and the 15th anniversary of Nigeria’s 4th republic. These milestones remind us of paths humanity must never again tread. They also suggest that we appreciate the writers who used their art to protest a system of suppression or provided comic relief in a climate of oppression. The importance of reading their books should never be lost on us, as James Kelman—Booker winner 1994— said, ‘one of the few remaining freedom we have is the blank page. No one can prescribe how we should fill it.’
The 2014 Lagos Art and Book Festival is dedicated in honour of Prof. Wole Soyinka @ 80.
The pre-festival events kick off on the 10th and end on the 13th of November. The events to look forward to are: a book trek, creative writing workshop, and a publisher’s forum. The Book Trek will take place at British Council in Ikoyi, Lagos and it is designed to ignite a passion for reading amongst children, young adults and anyone with a suspicion for books. It will be followed by a one day creative writing workshop organised by British Council for aspiring writers. The final pre-festival event is the publisher’s forum. The discussions will be focused on cutting operational costs and making profits by taking advantage of the marketing opportunities e-media presents. CORA (Committee for Relevant Arts) and Goethe Institut will facilitate the forum. The forum ushers us into the main festival events which will run from 14th to 16th of November:

Day One
We celebrate the works of Nobel Laureate—Prof. Wole Soyinka. Prof. Biodun Jeyifo—Harvard don and foremost critic of Soyinka’s work—will deliver the keynote address on Soyinka’s contribution to the quest for Freedom and Justice for all people. The speech will set-off discussions on Soyinka’s non-fiction and its impact on freedom and nation building.
The second session is tagged Soyinka: the public intellectual. Prof. Chidi A. Odinkalu—chairman of the Nigeria Human Rights Commission—will set the tone for discussions with an address on Soyinka the great defender of freedom of speech.
And then there will be readings and performance of Soyinka’s plays and poems: Dance of the Forest, Madmen & Specialists, King Baabu, Beatification of an Area boy, and The Road. Also poets cum rap artistes will entertain the audience with poetry and spoken word recitation in tribute to Prof Wole Soyinka. A befitting finale to first day proceedings is the staging of Alapata Apata by Crown Troupe of Africa.

Day Two
Join Chuma Nwokolo, Adewole Ajao, Toni Kan, Kola Tubosun and co as they discuss books on the theme ‘In Search for Freedom’. Books to be discussed: 1. David Welsh—The Rise and Fall of Apartheid. 2. Nelson Mandela—Long Walk to Freedom. 3. Peter Schneider—The Wall Jumper. 4. Ala Al Aswany—Chicago. 5. Wale Adebami—Trials and Triumphs: The Story of TheNews
A panel of four coordinated by BusinessDay will anchor discussions on the theme ‘Keys to Knowledge Economy’. Books to be discussed: 1. Thomas Picketty—Capital in the Twenty First Century. 2. Dambisa Moyo—Winner Takes All: China’s Race for Resources and What it Means for the World. Also the following books will be discussed on the theme The Aftermath: What Happens after Freedom: 1. Ike Okonta—When Citizens Revolt. 2. Antjie Krog—A  Change of Tongue. 3. Naomi Klein—Shock Doctrine. 4. Wladimir Kaminer—Russian Disco.
British Council will anchor discussions on themes for young adults for example: do we entice them to read by writing fantasy or is reality equally bizarre and interesting? Then Cassava Republic and a panel of authors will discuss of a new digital romance imprint—Ankara Romance. Finally, Rotimi Babatunde—Caine’s Prize winner 2012—and a panel of four discuss contemporary Nigerian writing.

Day Three
Join Sage Hasson to explore the theme ‘The Book and Youth Empowerment’. Focus is on books published by authors under 35, like: 1. Okechukwu Ofili—How Stupidity Saved My Life. 2. Chude Jideonwo—Are We the Turning Point Generation. 3. Ayo Sogunro—The Wonderful Life of Senator Boniface and other Sorry Tales. Benson Idonije—veteran journalist and music critic—will present his book on Fela Ankulapo Kuti titled Dis Fela Sef.
We saved the screen for you on the last day! Come and watch The Supreme Price, a documentary film by Joanna Lipper that will make you appreciate 15 years of democracy in Nigeria, that will make you cry and make you laugh too. The movie segues in to the CORA Art Stampede—a free for all discussion on the importance of documentation to the quest of freedom.
For the last hurrah we present poetry slam by a 100,000 Poets and Musicians whose aim is to induct you as champion for change. The Lagos Art and Book Festival promises to be a picnic of books, and one book a day will keep senility at bay.
So there you have it guys, The three day event will start on the 14th and end on the 16th with a three day pre-festival event schedule that will reach out to children, aspiring young adult writers and a forum for the publishers and literary agents. The venue is Freedom Park at Broad Street, Lagos Island. 

If you need more information, and to make reservations and other enquires, check out their website, www.lagosbookartfestival.org

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