By Prisca Sam Duru
THEY came, from all over the world. Over 80 world renowned writers, visual and performing artistes, researchers, scholars, academia, all assembled with much enthusiasm on the 17th of November 2015, for the 3rd edition of the Ake Arts and Book Festival, held at the June 12 Cultural Centre Kuto, Abeokuta, Ogun State.
The festival which came to an amazing close on Saturday, 21st November, with palmwine and explosion of poetry/spoken word performances, was what any art lover would term ctting edge in the art and culture community.
With the success recorded and kudos the festival team received, it appears culture promoters and producers in the sector are ready to get to the apogee, even without a culture and tourism ministry.
The festival, themed ‘Engaging the Fringe’ put together by Book Buzz Foundation which ended on Saturday 21st, began on Tuesday 17th, with the commemoration of Environmental Awareness Day.
Sponsored by cement maker, Lafarge Africa Plc, the session tagged ‘Our Environment, Our World’, had in attendance, secondary school students from nine schools in Ogun State and wife of the state governor, Olufunso Amosun.
After leading the students through the Green Pledge, Mrs Amosun taught them how they can contribute to achieving a cleaner and greener environment. The documentary, ‘No Where To Run’ which is an expose of how badly, oil spillage, desertification and erosion have destroyed the environment, was screened in honour of late writer and environmental activist, Ken Saro Wiwa.
Lafarge representative, Mr. Greg Salami, admitted that activities of cement and other companies affect the environment but that his company became interested in supporting the Ake Festival because it is committed to ensuring that cement production is carried out in a sustainable manner by using natural materials that protect the environment.
His presentation exemplified his company’s efforts towards promoting a sustainable environment by adopting biofuels and reducing the use of fossil fuels in its operations, in addition to tree planting at its old quarry sites. The Ake Festival Director, Lola Shonehin said things have gotten so bad that Nigerians are now sitting on environmental disaster.
The official opening ceremony held on Wednesday, 18th, which followed the tour round schools in Abeokuta was an amazing grand opening, featuring speeches from the Executive Governor of Ogun State, Ibikunle Amosun, European Union Ambassador to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Michel Arrion as well as Director of Marine platforms, Baji Nyam.
It also featured a spoken word performance by Efe Paul Azino, dance by Qudus Onikeku and entertainment by Aduke. Other features include the unveiling of the longlist of 2015 Etisalat Prize For Literature by Etisalat Manager, High Value Sponsorship, Opeyemi Lawal. The 9 books longlisted were later sold at a discounted price that attracted an overwhelming number of interested buyers who rushed to get copies of the books.
Marine platforms also rewarded writers who have contributed positively to the promotion of literature through their works, in northern Nigeria, with cash awards of 200,000 naira each. The company further donated 100 books to libraries across Northern Nigeria, to improve on the reading culture and also, unveiled a platform to support writers across the North.
Winners of Ake/AirFrance Photography and Prose Prize were rewarded by Jean Tauzin. The Festival continued immediately with exhibitions of ‘Margins and Marginalisation’ by Andrew Esiebo and ‘Shadows and Dreams’ by Tyna Adebowale. There were more than enough doses of discourses on African, Nigerian, literature and many other topical issues affecting the globe.
Aside ‘No Where To Run’, Ramata, a spell-binding film on rape and romance, and, ‘The Man Who Mended Women’ many others were screened.For the duration of the festival, June 12 Cultural Centre was a beehive of activities featuring mindblowing book chats, panel discussions, interviews, music, films, dance, theatre performances, art exhibitions and many more, which explored issues about Africa .
Ifeoma Fafunwa’s ‘Hear Word’ was staged on Friday 20, at Hubert Ogunde Hall. Veteran actresses Joke Sylva, Bimbo Akintola et all, were a pleasant spectacle to watch as they conveyed the message of women empowerment with humour.