By Prisca Sam-Duru
The 3-day activity-packed Quramo Festival of Words, tagged Qfest 2021, came to a resounding close last Sunday, October 3rd, at the prestigious Eko Hotels and Suites, Lagos.
Qfest 2021 witnessed a massive convergence of poets, playwrights, storytellers, other literary enthusiasts, as well as creatives in diverse genres in the creative industry, who explored the efficacy of words both in written and spoken form, in relation to life in times of pandemic and creativity in general.
Directed by performance poet and author of ‘Symphony of Becoming’, Iquo Diana-Abasi, the Qfest 2021 began on October 1st, with a creative writing workshop facilitated by award-winning authors, Jude Idada and Eghosa Imaseun. The festival was a celebration of our power to connect with words!
Loud music echoing simultaneously from loudspeakers with rapturous applause and, dancing, ushered in celebration of this year’s winner of the Quramo Writers’ Prize, QWP 2021- Akinnimi Oluwaseun, thus, bringing the annual event to a reverberating end. Oluwaseun’s unpublished work titled ‘Looking Glass Bullet’, beat four other finalists; ‘Dark Spots Of Light’ by Ifeanyi Ekpunobi (2nd runner up), ‘Fate of the Forlorn’ by Cynthia Nnadi (1st Runner up), ‘In My Backwater Town’ by Ishola Hubaidat and ‘Under the Aluminum Sky by Cynthia Chukwuma, to take home the cash prize of N1Million. He will also have his manuscript published by Quramo Publishing. The top five finalists were highly commended for the quality of manuscripts submitted and according to the CEO/Executive Publisher, Quramo Publishing Ltd and festival organiser, Mrs Gbemi Shasore, QWP does not look for perfection but potential, adding that all the writers did their best to tell our stories as Africans.
This year, distinguished judges for QWP were decorated and renowned authors; with the head of the panel as an award-winning author, playwright, screenwriter, and filmmaker, Jude Idada. Other judges were; writer, editor, and convener of the Reading Café at the University of Lagos, Lechi Eke, and multiple-award-winning author, Abubakar Adam Ibrahim.
Qfest 2021 themed, “Transcendence: Words Defying”, was a beehive of fascinating activities with an assemblage of both established and emerging shakers of the creative industry, projecting the worth of words in all facets of life.
‘Q Conversation’, which took place on day 3 of the festival, spotlighted renowned filmmaker and Oscar juror, Femi Odugbemi. He was interviewed by the award-winning multi-talented artiste, Bikiya Graham-Douglas. Odugbemi revealed that the secret of his success is putting his all into any project he embarks upon and, does not work for money but for legacy. He harped on mentoring as key to success in the industry. While calling for more investment into the arts, as an accomplished documentarist, Odugbemi emphasised the importance of documentary films, noting that it is critical to industries such as ours since it gives the opportunity to take a position on an issue. His biggest fear in life surprisingly is never to disappoint his mother who he said, keeps impacting him with a sense of balance even at 83. “I hope to write a book about her”, he added.
The Masterclass on ‘The Fine Art of Creative Non-Fiction’ which succeeded the creative writing workshop, featured a panel of four writers: U.S.-based Helon Habila (Travellers), Silva Nze Ifedigbo (My Mind Is No Longer Here), Samuel Monye (Give Us Each Day), and Olusegun Adeniyi (From Frying Pan to Fire: How African Migrants Risk Everything in their Futile Search for a Better Life in Europe). The session was followed by a panel on ‘The Power of Words’, and then, “Writing to the Future, Today’, focusing on children’s writing. It featured children’s writers, Jude Idada, Erumena Amata, Dickson Ekhaguere, etc, with the Green Queen, Adesola Alamatu, moderating. ‘Open Mic Challenge’ was next. Themed ‘Words Defy, Words Restore’, the session had young spoken word artists and, moderated by Habeeb Ajijola. At the end, performance poet, Solutionist Clementina of Poets In Nigeria (PIN) emerged winner of Quramo Festival of Words Slam and took home the star prize of N100,000 cash.
Other notable features of the festival which had award-winning playwright and theatre director, Prof. Ahmed Yerima as special guest, included special spoken word performance by Dike Chukwumerije, Author’s and Book Chat, etc. There was also staging of ‘The Movement’, written and directed by Jude Idada, on the 2nd day of the fiesta, with ‘The Seat’, preceding the play. Guest at ‘The Seat’ this year was multiple award-winning authors of ‘My Sister The Serial Killer’, Oyinkan Braithwaite, who was in conversation with Chika Nzekwe, Malumfashi Sada, Oladimeji Ojo and, Christina Akintoye as moderator.
Setting the mood right for the take-off of the grand finale of Qfest 2021, renowned thespian, Edgar Joseph better known as Duke of Shomolu, seized the opportunity of a goodwill message, to encourage individuals and organisations to support the Nigerian literary industry to improve literacy and reading culture of Africans.
The highlight of the Day 3 of the event, was a screening of the trailer of the latest Quramo production titled, ‘The Loot and the Lost Kingdom: A Quest for Who We Really Are’. The movie which will be released soon narrates the interesting tale of Africa identity through artefacts looted during the colonial period, still scattered all over the world, as well as the growing momentum for their return.