The Ake Festival 2018 was hosted at the Radisson Blu in Lagos, Nigeria from October 25 – 27, 2018. It was days of masterclasses and workshops, book chats, panels, poetry performances, film screenings and more.
The Ake Festival has quickly established itself as the go to festival to attend in the West African as one is guaranteed to see some of the biggest names in African writing today. The festival which this year had one of the most impressive line ups in a literary event had Nuruddin Farah as headliner and Ghana as guest country.
The Ake Festival kicked off with an opening ceremony that featured speeches and good will messages from several dignitaries the most important of whom was Nigerian vice president Femi Osinbajo. VP Osinbajo while lauding the initiative would leave the people in stitches as he gave the painful reason why he never became a poet (he got beat). Also giving speeches at the Wana Udobang emceed event were Ake Festival founder Lola Shoneyin, Russell Brooks from the US embassy, Head of the EU Delegation to Nigeria Ambassador Ketil Karlsen, and French ambassador to Nigeria Jérôme Pasquier. Yvonne Chioke handed out the Vlisco Women’s Creative Awards to Ummi Bakar, Wana Udobang, Cynthia Ndeche, Zukiswa Wanner, and Kinna Likimani. There was entertainment from Chibundu Onuzo (she can sing!), and Kenyan dancer Wanjiru Kamuyu. There was also an announcement of the Nommo Award winners for this year.
Every year the festival headliner is interviewed by a respected individual. This year the festival headliner was interviewed by beloved journalist Kunle Ajibade. You can watch the interview below.
A unique aspect of this, and many literary festivals, are the chats between authors about their books. This year there were quite a few including one featuring Peter Kimani and Niq Mhlongo moderated by Zukiswa Wanner and Toni Kan moderating Sefi Atta and Bisi Adjapon. Kinna Likimani moderated Diana Evans Ayesha and Harruna Attah in another while Tolu Daniel moderated Paul Beatty and Nicole Dennis-Benn. Also in the book chat space was Olaokun Soyinka moderating Betty Irabor and Frankie Chike Edozien and Isabella Kinseye moderating Odafe Atogun and Nozizwe Cynthia Jele. Arit Okpo moderated Michael Donkor and Chibundu Onuzo.
There was a series of panels featuring some of your favourite writers, poets and others at this festival. They included “The Black Panther Phenomenon” featuring Nnedi Okorafor, Roy Okupe, and Kolawole Olanrewaju moderated by Oris Aigbokhaevbolo. Wana Udobang moderated Elizabeth Uviebinene and Yomi Adegoke and Mona Eltahawy for the session “What do women want.” “Divinity and spirituality in Igbo tradition” moderated by Yvonne Mbanefo featuring Munoyedi Ogbolumani, Chukwubudike Ugbaja, and Eloka Umeh was unique as this session was conducted in Igbo language. Kola Tubosun moderated “Entertainment, Education and Technology in the mothertongue” which featured Tunde Kelani, Tunde Adegbola, and Dayo Olagunju. “Reflections of the Biafra-Nigeria war” featuring Chude Offodile, Paul Tarfa, and Elizabeth Bird was moderated by Louisa Egbunike. Geoff Ryman moderated “Understanding Afrofuturism” with Wole Talabi, Tochi Onyebuchi, and Tosin Oshinowo as panellists. “The future of poetry” was another panel with Theresa Lola, Wana Udobang, Inua Ellams, Logan February and Ishion Hutchinson moderated by Dami Ajayi.
This festival also screens movies and this year they included Awani, Beyond Tolerance, Call Me By My Name, Monsoons Over The Moon, Visions, My Mothers Stew, 1745: An Untold Story of Slavery, Swallow, Rafiki, Uprooted, and Her Broken Shadow. As the films were running there were also panel discussions such as the one featuring Sade Adeniran, Bolaji Kekere-Ekun, and Gordon Napier moderated by TJ Benson. Another panel also moderated by Benson featured Ummi Bakar, Rafeeat Aliyu, and Ronke Adeola.
There was a performance of The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives directed by Femi Olufowoju Jr written by Rotimi Babatunde.
There was a poetry performance on the Sunday evening closing the festival that featured Nick Makoha, Ishion Hutchinson, Saddiq Dzukogi, Theresa Lola, Nastio Mosquito, Wana Udobang, and Nii Ayikwei Parkes.
There was a special event sponsored by Lipton Tea where guests got food featured in novels by some of the guests. These dishes were samosas and mango chutney as starters from the novel Kintu by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi (Eastern), Asaro and Efo Riro as main from Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo (Western), Braai as main from Men of the South by Zukiswa Wanner (Southern), and finally, Profiterole as dessert from Minaret by Leila Aboulela (Northern).
The festival streamed online and you can watch the happenings from the Ake Festival YouTube channel here.