The Abuja Literary Festival 2019 was hosted by the Abuja Literary Society in Abuja, Nigeria from July 11-13, 2019. The festival theme was “Arts & Social Consciousness.”
In 1998, the Abuja Literary Society was founded by Victor Anoliefo, Ike Anya, Ferdinand Agu and Ken Ike Okere to bring together writers, aspiring writers, book-lovers, intellectuals, and anyone with an interest in the literary arts and looking to relax in a creative atmosphere. To celebrate the second decade of the society, the team decided to set up the Abuja Literary Festival in 2018. That event which had the theme “Nigeria to the world” featured book readings, panel discussions, masterclasses, poetry grand slam, a nature hike, a food fair, writing and art competitions and lots more.
The Abuja Literary Festival 2019 continued in the tradition of its first iteration with many activities for bibliophiles in the capital of the West African country. It was hosted at Exhibition Pavilion, Area 10, Garki, Abuja. Here are the highlights.
Bibliophiles were treated to three days of panels featuring authors, poets, filmmakers, and many other professionals. On the first day, audiences were treated to the panel “Sexuality, Birth Rates and the 21st Century Woman.” That session moderated by Dr Inya Ode featured Rafeeat Aliyu, Hauwa Booth, Ayodele Olofintuade, and Safiya Ismaila Yero. Another of that day’s panels was “Telling Nigerian Stories on the big screen – Pleasure or Purpose” with panellists Editi Effiong, Bem Pever, and Aishat Abiri moderated by Jennifer Dafwat.
On the second day, Ose Anenih moderated the session “Satire, Advocacy and Civic Engagement Discussants” with Nwachukwu Egbunike, Baba Aminu, and Eketi Edima Ette as panellists. Following them on stage were Osasu Igbinedion, Dapo Olorunyomi, Kamri Apollo, and Chris Merill with Maryam Laushi as moderator. Their session was “Political Reportage, Press Freedom and Responsibility.”
Then there was “Conflicts, Resentments and Historical Narrative” with panellists Chika Oduah, Ummi Bukar, Tunde Leye, and Chris Ngwodo with moderation from Musa Ikhilor. “Writing about Mental Health” moderated by Stanley Bentu had Ayodele Olofintuade, Oyinkan Braithwaithe, and TJ Benson as panellists. Also on the day were the panellists Eghosa Imasuen (Narrative Landscape), Othuke Ominiabohs (Masobe Books), and Chuma Nwokolo. Their session, moderated by Salamatu Sule, was “Publishing, and the challenges of book accessibility.” The final panel of that day was “Today’s Generation: Challenges, Potential and Opportunities moderated by Hajo Isawith Bash Amuneni, Richard Ali, and Daisy Odey as discussants.
“Nigeria’s Migration and the global search for Fool’s gold” moderated by Yop Rwang Pam was the first panel of the third day with Segun Adeniyi and Arinze Orakwe as panellists. Another panel, moderated by Ulonna Inyama was “Art and Activism – Environmental degradation and Nigeria’s Theatres of war” with Chimeka Garricks and Prof. Aliyu Kamal as discussants. Then there was the panel “Promoting Inclusive Growth in the Nigerian Polity – We were Ready to run, are we ready to serve now?” That panel with Suleiman Danladi, Rinsola Abiola, Abiodun Essiet, and Ifeanyi Momah as panellists were moderated by Andy Madaki.
The “21st Century Nigerian Man – Navigating Success through today’s Gender Expectations” moderated by Deji Onadeko had Tolu Daniel, Toni Kan, Logan February, and Eugene Yakubu as discussants. Then there was “#NigeriaToo – Sexual Harassment in Nigeria’s public and private spaces” with the discussants Bukky Shonibare, Dr Mrs Maryam Sali, Dorothy Njemanze, and Saratu Abiola. That session was moderated by Munyale Kwabe. The final panel of the festival was “How to Write about Africa” moderated by Writivism Managing Editor Esther Mirembe. The panellists at this session were Eghosa Imasuen, Ope Adedeji, Chuma Nwokolo, and Odafe Atogun.
Abuja Literary Society Poetry Grand Slam
On Friday, July 12, there was the Poetry Grand Slam which was judged by Richard Ali, Bash Amuneni, Hajo Isa, and Daisy Odey with N200,000 on offer. After rousing poetry was performed, the winner of the slam was announced as Luqman Hassan followed by Adekunbi Lardo.
Creative writing workshop
There was a creative writing workshop at the festival which was facilitated by Emily Raboteau, Tom Sleigh, Christopher Merrill, and January Gill O’Neill.
The featured play at the festival was Wedlock of the Gods, a three-act play written by Zulu Sofola, the first published woman playwright from Nigeria. It is a postcolonial style play about breaking from the oppression of tradition in a male lead society.
There was the screening of the Ishaya Bako directed 4th Republic at the closing of the first day of the festival. Below is its trailer.
This festival report could not have been as detailed as it is without the assistance of our good friend Richard Ali. All images in this blog are courtesy of the kind Abujan. Thank you, kind sire. The other images are the official Abuja Literary Festival 2019 photographs.