Kaduna Books & Arts Festival, Kaduna Books & Arts Festival 2018, #Kabafest2018

The Kaduna Books & Arts Festival 2018, popularly known as Kabafest (#Kabafest2018), was hosted at the Silversand Hotel in Kaduna, Nigeria from September 5-8, 2018. Dozens of delegates from within Nigeria and further afield converged on what is quickly becoming the cultural centre in the northern part of the West African nation.

The Kaduna Book and Arts Festival, an initiative of the Kaduna State Government, in partnership with the Book Buzz Foundation started in 2017. The event which was part of the state’s centenary celebrations would feature over 50 writers, artists, actors, poets and performers with Leila Aboulela as the festival headliner.

The 2018 edition promised just as many high jinks as the first year and it would deliver even more. The opening ceremony started with speeches and goodwill messages from Book Buzz foundation’s Lola Shoneyin, Hadiza Isma El-Rufai, Sterling Bank’s Yemi Odubiyi, Zahrah Nesbitt-Ahmed, and Architect Barnabas Yusuf Bala Bantex the Deputy-Governor of Kaduna. Apart from the speeches, there was poetry by Efe Paul Azino, dance from Ochai Ogaba, storytelling by Mara Menzies, and singing by Jeremiah Gyang.

Zaynab Alkali shows off her award.
Zaynab Alkali shows off her award.

The opening ceremony included a lifetime achievement award to Zaynab Alkali the author of The Stillborn (1984), The Virtuous Woman (1987, Cobwebs & Other Stories (1997), The Descendants (2005), and The Initiates (2007). This award was cited by Wale Okediran and handed out by Deputy-Governor of Kaduna Architect Barnabas Yusuf Bala. The previous lifetime achievement award was handed out to Tabo Yari.

You can watch the whole ceremony below;

With the opening ceremony done and dusted, a four-day programme of arts and book-focused events called ‘booklogues’, workshops, performances, an art show, a stage play, film screenings and panel discussions with Nigerian and international writers and thinkers would follow.


Safiya Ismaila Yero, Mukoma Wa Ngugi, and Kinna Likimanidebate with moderation from Abubakar Adam Ibrahim on Why African Literatures Matter.
Safiya Ismaila Yero, Mukoma Wa Ngugi, and Kinna Likimani debate with moderation from Abubakar Adam Ibrahim on Why African Literatures Matter.
  • Why African Literatures Matter. Moderator: Abubakar Adam Ibrahim Panelist : Mukoma Wa Ngugi, Safiya Ismaila Yero and Kinna Likimani.
  • Women and their Place in Politics. Moderator: Timehin Adegbeye Panelist: Ramatu Tijani-Aliyu, Rabi Adamu Musa, Binta Muazu.
  • In Search of Ourselves: New Nigerian Writing. Moderator: TJ Benson Panelist: Basit Jamiu, Umar Turaki, Hauwa Nuhu Shafi.
  • Mental Health as Priority in Northern Nigeria. Moderator: Temie Giwa Panelist: Aisha Armayu, Femi Oyebode, Leyla Hussein.
  • Feminism for the Future: Perception and Reality. Moderator: Wana Udobang Panelist: Amina Salihu, Nana Darkoa, Fatima Zahra Umar.
  • Uncovering the Politics of Boko Haram. Moderator: Abubakar Othman Panelist: Abdulbasit Kassim, Yakubu Nkeki, Bukky Shonibare.
  • Food Security in Nigeria and screening of “Swallow.” Moderator: Wana Udobang Panelist: Haruna Hassan Tukur, Furera Isma Jumare, Richard Young, Manzo Maigari.
  • Obstacles to Economic Opportunities in Northern Nigeria. Moderator: Kadaria Ahmed Panelist: Abubakar Suleiman, Muhammad Sani Abdullahi.
  • Live and Let Live: Towards Religious Freedom in Northern Nigeria. Moderator: Kola Tubosun Panelist: Freedom Onuoha, Mubarak Bala, Abubakar Othman.
  • Moving Nigeria Forward. Moderator: Kolade Arogundade Panelist: Kayode Ogundamisi, Kadaria Ahmed, Jibrin Ibrahim.


Booklogue: Habiba Alkali, Toni Kan, and Siphiwo Mahala.
Booklogue: Habiba Alkali, Toni Kan, and Siphiwo Mahala.
  • Host: Kinna Likimani. Panelists: Hadiza Isma El-Rufai for An Abundance of Scorpions and Ayobami Adebayo for Stay With Me.
  • Host: Toni Kan. Panellists: Siphiwo Mahala for African Delights and Habiba Alkali for The Phantom Army.
  • Host – Sada Malumfashi. Panellists: Vamba Sherif of Land of my Fathers and E.E Sule Author of
  • Host – Dami Ajayi. Panellists: EC Osondu of This house Is Not For Sale and Nuvoyo Rosa Tshuma of House of Stone.
Mara Menzies
Mara Menzies

Apart from the daily literary events there were other events that made it a full on arts festival like an art fair where art from Northern Nigerian artists was showcased. There was also an evening where Mara Menzies who was a big hit on the first day of the festival got to perform to the audience using some very willing human props.

Then there were screenings for the following movies;

  • Uprooted Written by: Ummi Yakubu Directed by: Ummi Bukar.
  • Alia’s Story directed by Nuhu Daylop.

Poetry Night

Dami Ajayi
Dami Ajayi

The festival would wrap up with Poetry Night as poets like Efe Paul Azino, Chika Jones, Dami Ajayi, Koleka Putuma, Wana Udobang, and Femi Oyebode performed.

All the images from this post have been sourced from the official Kaba Festival social media channels.

You can read some more from the festival at the following links.