Lagos narratives herald Nigeria’s centenary at LABAF 2013

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By Prisca Sam-Duru

ORganised by the Committee for Relevant Arts (CORA), the 2013 Lagos Book and Art Festival (LABAF) which took place from November 15 to 17 at Freedom Park, Lagos  was held in memory of Africa’s literary ancestor, late Prof. Chinualumogu Achebe, who passed on earlier in the year.

The festival which is in its 15th year, was themed “Nigeria’s Centenary: The Lagos Narrative” .In a session which formally opened the festival, the editor of The Guardian, Mr. Martins Oloja, engaged  Former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Nassir El-Rufai in a conversation on his controversial book, “The Accidental Public Servant”. During this session titled, “A Career in the Centenary”, El-Rufai did justice to questions from Oloja as he mesmerised the audience with his views on topical political issues.

Comedian Julius (D’ genius) Agwu, later took the centre stage with “My Encounter with the Book” at the mentoring session during which his new book, “Jokes Apart: How Did I get Here?” was utilised in telling children stories on the role books have played in his life. He encouraged the young participants to get education first and also, be determined in any chosen career path.

The festival colloquium tagged, “The Nigerian Centenary”, succeeded Agwu’s session and it was anchored by Associate Professor of Comparative Literature at Indiana University, Bloomington, United States of America, Akin Adesokan. He spoke on “Henry Carr in Lagos: A Narrative of Modern Nigeria”. The session also had Tolu Ogunlesi and Tade Ipadeola, while Tunji Lardner moderated.

The Lagos Story and a jazz Night produced by Ayoola Shadare’s Inspiro Productions featuring a musical conversation between three bands, which was a little away from books, were also held on same Friday to set the stage for a thrilling festival. This session also wrapped up activities for the day.

Furthermore, in a creative exercise with Ayodele Olofintuade of LAIPO and Shola Alamatu of CATE, children participated in reading, performance and making of handicrafts for bodily adornments.

Documentary as a medium for story telling was the focus on day three of the festival. It featured documentaries on Nigeria’s centenary in addition to how the book meets film on the live of Nigeria’s foremost Yoruba language author, D.O. Fagunwa. The documentaries shown included; “Naij: A History of Nigeria” by Jide Olanrewaju and it traces Nigeria’s tortuous history culminating in the current democratic system;  “A Journey to Amalgamation, which examines the country’s journey to 1914, which is fitting as Nigeria celebrates that landmark event next year; and “D.O. Fagunwa: Literature, Language and Literalism”. The documentary on Fagunwa was most interesting such that it afforded literary icons  in the likes of  Profs. Niyi Osundare, Femi Osofisan, Tunde Babawale etc, the opportunity to examine his works.

The visual art section was up for viewing, with Jelili Atiku and his colleagues displaying stunning art pieces that in a lot of manner, redefined installation art.

In a session moderated by Ayodele Olofintuade, four authors and their books; Tade Ipadeola’s 2013 Nigeria Prize for Literature winning book, The Sahara Testament; Iquo Eke’s shortlisted, Symphony of Becoming; Igoni Barrett’s Love is Power, Or Something Like That and Sammy Sage Hassan’s Dream Maker, were celebrated.

There was also, a poetry slam and reggae splash which drew the curtains on LABAF, a festival worth commendations for giving authors and book enthusiast, an artistic, cultural and literary platform for interaction and exchange.

The Festival Arthouse Party, had Prof. J.P. Clark-Bekederemo who will be 80 next year, in the company of his wife, Prof. Ebun; Mrs.Francesca Emanuel, who was 70 recently; Dejumo Lewis, 70 and Chief Rasheed Gbadamosi, with Taiwo Ajayi-Lycet, performing the citation of these illustrious Nigerians. It was great fun watching the legends, dig it on the dancing floor.

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