Believe it or not, we are less than 10 days away from the 2019, Ake Book and Arts Festival from the 24th to the 27th of October 2019. The Ake Festival has become the gold standard for conversations around literature and how it influences culture, intersects with politics and defines identity on the continent and the world. With 110 distinguished guests all convening at the Wale Adenuga Centre at the Alliance Francaise building in Ikoyi, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by everything that is happening at the event. So we’ve curated our top 5 must participate events and panels at this year’s festival.
Let’s get to it.
FIFTY YEARS AFTER THINGS FALL APART
Wale Lawal, the founder of the Republic Journal, writer and one half of the creative team behind the Afrofuturist installation Mad House City hosts this discussion. After covering contemporary stories across the continent, including a whole series dedicated to Biafra, Wale is in a unique position to moderate conversation between three of Nigeria’s most vocal writers, the eloquent Chika Unigwe (who has a new collection of short stories coming out), Helon Habila (whose travellers finally sees his fiction leave the shores of Nigeria to tackle a more global problem) and Nnamdi Ehirim (whose fiction panders to no one but demands respect from all). A spicier panel, we might not see at Ake this year.
INTIMACY AND THE EXPLORATION OF SELF: New Non-fiction Writing
Anyone who visited the 2019 Kaduna Book and Arts Festival, saw first hand the passion and intellect that Sibongile Fisher brings to any conversation. She is at the same time insistent yet conciliatory and she knows her shit (pardon my french). Add the very powerful work of Hauwa Shaffi (She was recently published in the Republic Journal), Howard Maximus, all moderated by Ademola Adefolami, and you’d understand my enthusiasm.
PAN AFRICANISM: A FANTASY?
A surprise hit at the 2019 Kaduna Book and Arts Festival, the Pan Africanism panel has literally African political and nationalist royalty; Sadia Nkrumah is the child of the great Kwame Nkrumah and a well versed scholar herself, and Professor Hakim Adi has written extensively on the relationships between Africa and Europe as well as Africa’s long and poorly documented romance with communism as an alternative to the rabid capitalism of the West that led to colonialism. Journalist Saeda Nourhussen rounds out this accomplished panel. But really, first time moderator Joseph Ike is the kindling that will turn this panel into a truly spectacular display of novel ideas and revolutionary arguments. For those who think fiction is too dreamy, here’s be some cold hard facts.
BOOK CHAT: MONA EL-HATHAWAY
Mona El-Hathaway’s new book The Seven Necessary Sins for Women and Girls has already been lauded as a powerful and necessary heir to her first incendiary book of essays Hymens and Head Scarves. Mona brings her book to Nigeria to fire up necessary conversations about what it means to be a woman growing up and navigating the patriarchy that has pervaded Islam in the 21st century and who better to have this conversation with than Nigerian firebrand poet and activist Fakhriyyah Hashim, who started the #ArewaToo movement, giving thousands of young Muslim women in Northern Nigeria a platform to protest the misogyny that many men try to justify with Islam. My entire being is ready.
WATERBIRDS ON THE LAKESHORE: AN ANTHOLOGY OF AFRO YOUNG ADULT FICTION
In partnership with the Goethe Institut, writer Zukiswa Banner made a call for the best young adult fiction from young people of African descent and hundreds answered. Zukiswa presents them to the Ake audience, and by extension the world, heralding the ascension of a new generation of post millennial writers with important messages to sha. The birth of an era of writers is a holy event and we will all be blessed to share.
AS A SPECIAL BONUS:
Bernard Evaristo, the first black woman to win a Booker Prize is coming to Ake!