Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Sterling Bank Plc, Abubakar Suleiman, has tasked African writers to write stories that would inspire Africa to be all it can be.
He made the call during the welcome ceremony of the 7th edition of Ake Arts and Books Festival in Lagos.
In his goodwill message, Suleiman stressed the importance of storytelling, saying its outcome is the reason why people do the things they do, and the reason why they live the way they live.
The Sterling Bank boss advised African writers not to write stories to entertain people only but rather to write stories that create contexts that could lift Africans out of poverty to prosperity. Stories that would make Africa become all it can be.
He disagreed with the notion that works of art are what people do when they have done everything else or what they do when every other thing has failed.
“All that we know about ourselves and history are the works of artistes, even the things that are backed by data. All that we do is to understand them in context and that context is the work of artists. If you take away the context, the story would change completely,” he said.
In her welcome address, the Director of Ake Arts and Books Festival, Lola Shoneyin, disclosed that the festival attracted more creatives – writers, filmmakers, poets, photographers, thinkers, actors, dancers and artistes – from more African countries than ever before.
Commending the festival’s headline sponsor, Sterling Bank, Shoneyin said, “I am very proud to say that Ake Arts and Book Festival is now one of the few festivals on the African continent that has an indigenous company as its main partner. Sterling Bank has taken the step of partnering with Ake Festival for the foreseeable future. This partnership gives me so much hope. I sincerely hope more players in the private sector follow their lead and start to support, develop and promote creativity and the arts on the African continent.”
The festival examined the physical, mental and violent acts that have and are being inflicted on black bodies, particularly those of women through conflict, colonialism, patriarchy, cultural practices and attitudes. Ake Arts and Book Festival explored the link between the mental and the physical as well as specific phenomena such as scarification, body image, tattoos, stereotyping, gender non-conformity and colourism as well as the mental health of people on the African continent.