By Godwin Okondo
NIGERIA is at the cross-roads, also known as ‘oritameta’ in Yoruba folk cosmology. Which direction should the country take to negotiate itself from an uncertain future to a bright one? That’s at the heart of the existential question confronting Nigeria and Nigerians. These are some of the issues that will take centrestage on Day 5, Friday, November 19, 2021 of Lagos Book and Art Festival 2021 (LABAF). Some exploratory books that deal with these issues will be up for discussion in planned colloquium sessions.
Also, educating and instructing youths, as well as the society in general about the importance of education and the urgency of developing reading culture among Nigerian young people will be discussed. The day will begin with a mentorship session at 10am, and has as theme ‘The Book in My Life.’ Dame Taiwo Ajayi-Lycett will mentor students on the importance of reading and education, which will be followed by a colloquium that deals with the festival’s theme ‘A Fork in the Road’ which will feature the author of ‘Love Does Not Win Elections’ by Ayisha Osori, LABAF’s honoured celebrant, Ajayi-Lycett, members of Transcultural Writers’ Network, University of Lagos, and CORA board members. It will be chaired by CORA trustee, Chief Kayode Aderinokun. Thereafter, there will be a of the book ‘Dame Taiwo Ajayi-Lycett: The Biography’ by Olatunji Ololade.
At 3pm same day, a symposium with the theme ‘How Did It All Go Awfully Wrong?’ will feature a review of the books, ‘Formation: The Making of Nigeria: From Lugard to Amalgamation’ by Fola Fagbule and Feyi Fawehinmi, ‘The Politics of Biafra & Future of Nigeria’ by Chudi Offodile, and ‘The Riddle of the Oil Thief’ by King Bubaraye Dakolo. To reviews the books will be Richard Mammah, Samuel Osaze, and Tade Ipadeola. The session will be moderated by Poet and dramatist, Prof. Femi Osofisan.
At 5pm another colloquium, ‘Invoking the Gods, and will have books like ‘Foreign Gods Inc.’ by Okey Ndibe and ‘Imminent River’ by Anaele Ihuoma reviewed by literary enthusiast, Ayodele Ibiyemi and literary critique, Socrates Mbamalu, with Ipadeola moderating the session. The author’s convention follows up immediately at 6pm, with the theme ‘Reading on the Road…’ that probes the festival’s theme. It will feature performed reading and discussions around the books ‘The Road’ by Woke Soyinka, ‘The Famised Road’ by Ben Okri, and ‘Labyrinth’ by Christopher Okigbo. The session will be curated by Aj. Dagga Tolar.
The Ken Saro-Wiwa Prize for Review essay competition for youths aged 18-25 kicks off at 7pm. The session is on ”The Review of ‘The Son of the House’ by Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia” which the author will feature. At 8pm, the day’s activities come to a close with a night of jazz and poetry performances featuring Freedom Five, Aj. House of Poetry, Bariga Poetry Collective, and LOUDThotz, and will be chaired by Osofisan, with JP Clark’s family, led by Prof. Ebun Clark as special guests of honor. An excerpt of Wole Soyinka’s ‘The Road’ will be screened at 9pm; it’s curated by Segun Adefila, with CORA board member, Alhaji Teju Kareem as chairman.
Also, the events for October 20 kick off with actress and art activist, Joke Silva, mentoring students on the importance of education through the arts. This will be followed by a colloquium involving discussions and readings around selected books. With ‘The Choices at the Oritameta’ as theme, it begins with a keynote by the author of ‘Jailed for Life’, Kunle Ajibade, with a focus on books like ‘Love Does Not Win Elections’ by Ayisha Osori, ‘The Bead Collector’ by Sefi Atta and ‘I, Eric Ngale’ by Eric Ngale. The books will be reviewed by literary enthusiast, Onome Onwah, writer and journalist, Pelu Awofeso, and literary activist, and Prince Irede Abumere. The session will also feature journalist and civil activist, Lanre Arogundade, and chaired by CORA board member, Ben Tomoloju.
At 2.30pm, another colloquium kicks off with the theme ‘War, Military, Terrorism’ and involves reading and discussions around books like ‘Nigerian Soldiers of Fortune: From Buhari to Babangida’ by Max Sillioum, ‘Colours of Hatred’ by Obinna Udenwe and ‘Madagali’ by Wale Okediran and will be reviewed by literary enthusiast, Armsfree Ajanaku, literary activist, Kayode Faniyi; and literary journalist and writer, Anote Ajeluorou. The session will be moderated by journalist, writer, and Editorial Board Chairman of ‘The Nation’, Sam Omatseye.
Same day at 4.30pm, Arthouse Conversation kicks off with ‘The Biography Session’ and has as first theme ‘Why I Wrote His Story’ that features books such as ‘The Will To Win: The Story of Biodun Shobanjo’ by Dotun Adekambi and ‘A Safe Pair of Hands: Biography of Austin Avuru’ by Peju Akande and Toni Kan. Guests of honour for this session are Chief Biodun Sobanjo and Mr Austin Avuru. The second theme ‘Why I Wrote My Story,’ featured such books as ‘Dis Fela Sef’ by Benson Idonije and ‘A Lifetime of Friendships’ by Murtala Sule. Guests of honour for this session will be Benson Idonije and Murtala Sule.
Then at 6pm, ‘Joy of Reading 1’ will kick off with a reading and discussion around the books ‘Formation: The Making of Nigeria from Jihad to Amalgamation’ by Fola Fagbule and Femi Fawehinmi and ‘Remaking Nigeria, Sixty Years, Sixty Voices’ edited by Chido Onumah. President, Network of Book Clubs and Reading Promoters in Nigeria (NBRP), Richard Mammah, will engage the two authors in a conversation. ‘Joy of Reading 2’ begins from 6pm,and revolves around ‘The Riddle of the Oil Thief’ by Dakolo. The programme also provides opportunity for a chat with author and literary enthusiast, Achalugo Choma E.; it’s curated by Amara Chimeka for Purple Shelves. ‘Joy of Reading 3’ will start at 7.00pm, with a reading and discussion around the book ‘Eric Ngale’ by Ngale. Poet and literary activist, Samuel Osaze, will engage Ngale in a chat; it’s curated by Amara Chimeka for Purple Shelves.
A docu-interview on the festival’s honoured celebrant, Ajai-Lycett, will begin at 8.00pm, as well as a screening of an interview on the theatre matriarch titled ‘Dame Taiwo Ajai-Lycett: Top of Her Game.’ The session will be chaired by storyteller and documentary filmmaker, Femi Odugbemi.A dance drama titled ‘Our Area, Progressive Express’ begins at 9.00pm to round off the day’s activities. It will be curated by poet, dramatist, choreographer, Segun Adefila, and chaired by CORA board member, Bolanle Austen-Peters.