One remarkable difference at the 21st edition of the just concluded, weeklong literary and art activities, was the absence of booths or bookstands by publishers or bookshop owners to sell their books at LABAF.
However, book enthusiasts had the opportunity to interact with writers who shared insight into their works. The 21st edition of Lagos Book and Art Festival with the theme, “Emerge: Breaking into the New”, held at Freedom Park, Broad Street, Lagos between November 4-10, 2019, premised on the notion of breaking free from the shackles of social, political, economic and cultural factors that inhibit the progress of the individual and the nation.
The thematic thrust of the 51-odd events (including 21 partner-contributed programmes, featured in the week-long festival, which examined issues around 20 years of Nigeria’s democracy, shifting political events and discourses around the continent, as well as development in/around global politics.
An exhibition of 25 works was held in honour of Nobel laureaute, Prof Wole Soyinka, with the title “Timeless Memories: Elastic Effects.” Some of the exhibited works included Mbari Club Original Dugbe Market, The Hunter-Ijegba Home, All for National Interest, But they Won’t Understand, Between Ojukwu and I, Radio Station Tape Substitution, The Man Died, Prison Note, Sand Memos, Go forth and Shine on Soyinka, Timeless memories, NADECO Route, Young Oluwole Soyinka with Parents, The Lion and the Jewel, The Magnificent Seven, among others.
Curator of the exhibition, Oludamola Adebowale, said of the exhibition: “The idea behind the exhibition project is to create a conscious form of dialogue on a fresh perspective about Oluwole Soyinka and most importantly infuse the use of illustration art and film as a means of expanding the scope of knowledge and interaction around the man we call WS or Kongi.
“The life of Wole Soyinka has been a subject of discourse for many years, from his boyhood in Abeokuta to his early days at the University College, Ibadan (now University of Ibadan), the formation of the Pyrates Confraternity, his most active early days as a writer, as an activist, the NADECO/Abacha days, the formation of the FRSC and his life as a global citizen.
“We celebrate the Timeless Memories ‘Kongi’ has given us over the years, and the Elastic Effects these memories has had on us and will have on generations to come.”
During the Book Trek at Amphitheatre, there were readings and conversations around books of the festival and newest books on the Nigerian shelf.
In his address of welcome, Jahman Anikulapo told the gathering that the Book Trek was usually done at the premises of British Council, Ikoyi, but, last year, they decided to treat the book fair with contempt by not providing light, and writers had to use torch and candle to read their works. Hence, the Book Trek was moved to Freedom Park, which is home to literary events. It is the book that we celebrate and in celebrating the book, we celebrate the author who has written their ideas on paper.”
Secretary General, CORA, Toyin Akinosho, said it was a cheery evening, for “the rains have departed, so we are having a very interesting atmosphere to engage the book. There are three kinds of Book trek, and we started the Book Trek about ten years into LABAF. It has taken authors to some communities and schools outside the framework.”
The Book Trek was moderated by Chima Nwokolo, who introduced children writers to read their works. First to read was Davis Azinnma, who read from her book, Be Careful What You Wish For. Next was Fagbaye Oluwadamilare, with Mischievous Old Woman. Oludaresimi Fagbaye read Max the Footballer, while Koinsola Afolayan read Mark and the Spider, as Gerald Aguda read from Dream World.
After the children had read their works, the adults took turns to read as well, explaining their motive for writing. Akintunde Akinyemi read Hubris, while Newton Jubunoh read Me, My Desert and I. Tunde Leye read, Afonjaa The Rise, while Dele Farotimi read Do Not Die In Their Wars, just as Mena Amata read her book, The Dimpsy Chronicle. In addition, Lola Akande read her book, Where Are You From, and Yemi Adebisi read his book, The Pastor’s Prostitute.