The Ake Festival 2016 kicked off officially at the June 21st Cultural Centre in Abeokuta, Ogun State, Nigeria on 17th November 2016.
The fourth edition of the Ake Festival has kicked off at the capital of Ogun State in Nigeria with speeches from eminent personalities and performances from amazing poets. It wasn’t the day that events had started happening in Abeokuta with workshops and school visits already having been done in the last few days. Also happening last night was a concert featuring singers Falana and Byrmo.
The events at the cinema hall at the Cultural Centre started with speeches with Lola Shoneyin the festival director kicking off proceedings. She welcomed guests from far and wide to Abeokuta while thanking the sponsors and partners and media and all the rest who helped the proceedings that were happening.
The most colourful of the speeches had to have been by Oba Adedotun Aremu Aremu Gdabebo the Alake of Egbaland. His walking into the venue was epic with a trumpeter and singing and general clapping and joy. He didn’t sit down first as someone had to sit on his chair and put his ceremonial sword on it before he reclined at the front seat. When he went on stage there was more trumpeting and singing. The Alake who has been on the throne for the last 11 years welcomed all the guest and then offered the festival a home in his state in his lifetime. Very cool Alake there.
Then came goodwill messages from many guests. Diran Olojo from First City Monument Bank promised to stay with the festival for as long as he was vice president. Mathilda Edwards read a speech on behalf of Miles Morland of the Miles Morland Foundation. Michael Arrion the ambassador of the EU and Ecowas gave his final speech at the festival in his official role as his assignment ends.
The good people at Etisalat were also here represented by Elvis Ogiemwanye also gave a goodwill message before he called Hellon Habila the chief judge of the Etisalat Prize for Literature 2017 and they announced the longlist. There is set to be another battle royal for the prize with writers from the usual suspect countries on there.
Also making an announcement were the team from the new African Science Fiction Awards aka known as the Nommo Awards. You the writer of fiction that doesn’t fall in the other nicely packaged genres now have a space where you can win thousand dollar prizes. This is your chance people.
Away from the speeches there was a performance by Titilope Sonuga whose poetry presentation of Where We Come From blew the audience away. I loved Efe Paul Azino’s performance last year but I have to say that Titilope out Efed Efe. Dang.
One of the thing that folks kept talking about was thanking those who came up with the festival and its supporters. This blogger couldn’t agree more. At the artists area were sitting some of the most important writers from Africa today. I spotted Noviolet Bulawayo and Sarah Ladipo Manyika sitting in from of me. In front of them was Hellon Habila and Alain Mabanckou. Next to me was Shadreck Chikoti. Behind me was Lidudumalingani the Caine Prize winner and on the same row was festival headliner Ngugi Wa Thiong’o. There was also… I could go on all day but I’ll just state that It’s not every day that you find such amazing talent sitting at one space. Salute to Ake Festival and the team running ti.