IT is with great pleasure and excitement that we gather here today to celebrate the rich tapestry of literary arts and culture that has become synonymous with QFest. Over the last four days, we have had a spectacular line up of events that endeavoured to ignite your passion for words, ideas and creative expression.
This year’s festival featured a diverse programme of 10 creative workshops, six panel discussions, four book chats, two film screenings, an Irish Siamsa, a stage play, a Q Conversation, Word Slam contest, raffle draws and the Quramo Writers’ Prize winner’s unveiling. Over 30 sessions led by renowned creative experts and thought leaders who delved into subjects as diverse as fintech, culinary exports, African art history, intellectual rights, entertainment and artificial intelligence. The diversity of topics further provided valuable insights and sparked meaningful conversations.
We at Quramo choose to celebrate and spark conversation around the issues that enrich creativity, make room for fresh talent and foster culture and community. We believe this is how to reshape how the world sees Nigeria and Africa — through the appeal and attraction of what we create. We do this primarily through books and film, and through our initiatives and events.
Through Quramo Publishing, we have published a range of titles from cultural history to contemporary fiction and non-fiction, academic and specialised work. Our most recent offerings are ‘Bisi is the Boss’ by Bola Tinubu, founder of the child-centred non-profit organisation, Cece Yara Foundation, and the children’s picture book serves to entertain young children aged 4 to 8 while educating and empowering them against child sexual abuse. Quramo has also just put out a line of nursery books, cutting across verbal and quantitative reasoning, activity books and more.
Convener, Quramo Festival of Words, Mrs. Gbemi Shasore (left); Quramo Writers’ Prize (QWP) winner, Chiziterem Chijoke and Quramo Festival Director, Lolade Alaka after awarding the prize at Eko Hotel in Lagos
Through the Quramo Festival of Words, we work to celebrate and explore deeper the arts and culture as a broad field of creativity and tool for societal development. The theme for this year’s Quramo Festival of Words, “Connecting the Dots”, has guided our journey throughout this festival, emphasising the importance of building bridges within our nation, across our continent and beyond.
In a world that can often feel divided, it is our connection, shared stories and mutual understanding that bring us closer together. The theme was our way of underscoring the importance of fostering connections within Nigeria and across Africa. Information travels at the speed of light, and so, it is crucial that we initiate and strengthen communication, travel and distribution networks within our country and continent. Only through these connections can our products truly shine on their own merit.
At QFest 2023, we are especially thrilled to have hosted engaging conversations with such distinguished guests as Bode Abifarin, Olumide Soyombo, Chef Imoteda, James Murua, Blessing Abeng, Fu’ad Lawal, Yahaya Maikori, Bankole Olayebi, Ambassador Peter Ryan of Ireland to Nigeria and Marc Brebant of Alliance Francaise Lagos, whose presence here is a testament to the global reach and appeal of our festival, and of course, we were delighted to welcome Kemi Ogunleye and Chioma ‘Chigul’ Omeruah for the much-anticipated Chrystallis Conversation.
There were masterclasses from Femi Odugbemi, Jude Idada, Morenike Olusanya, Anwuli Ojogwu of the Society of Books and Magazine Editors of Nigeria (SBMEN), Adedotun Eyinade of RovingHeights Bookstores and more – masters of such varied creative skills as scriptwriting, songwriting, visual arts, book-to-screen adaptation, grant writing, and more. We also showcased the Society for the Performing Arts in Nigeria (SPAN), the Crown Troupe of Africa, KJohn Films Uganda, among others. These luminaries graciously shared their learned experiences to further enlighten us on the world of literary arts and culture.
Ladies and gentlemen, tonight marks the grand finale of the Quramo Festival of Words 2023, and it is with immense joy and gratitude that I stand before you to welcome you to this culminating celebration of words. We have had the privilege of engaging with the aforementioned luminaries, from the realms of literature, arts and entertainment, to the worlds of fintech, culinary exports, African art history, intellectual rights and artificial intelligence. Each session has offered us a unique perspective and a deeper understanding of the intricate tapestry of our cultural heritage and its connections to the wider world.
As we gather here for the grand finale, we are honoured to be joined by individuals whose contributions to the literary and cultural landscape are truly outstanding. I extend a warm welcome to the distinguished Sarah Boulos, founder/CEO of SPAN, who will grace us with her wisdom and inspiring life story in our Q Conversation. We are also gathered here to unveil the winner of the Quramo Writers’ Prize (QWP) 2023, a shining beacon of literary talent amidst us. This is a moment of great anticipation and celebration, as we honour and support the future voices of our literary world. We eagerly await the announcement of this year’s winner who will receive the sum of one million naira and a book publishing deal for their winning manuscript.
As we bask in the glory of this grand finale, I want to take a moment to acknowledge the tireless efforts of the festival planning committee, our sponsors, partners, management and staff of Quramo, and all those who have contributed to making QFest 2023 a resounding success. Your dedication and hard work have been the driving force behind the magic of these past few days. Your commitment to nurturing the literary arts and culture is truly commendable, and we thank you for your invaluable contributions.
As we bid farewell to QFest 2023, let us carry with us the knowledge, inspiration and connections we have forged during this incredible journey. Let us continue to connect the dots, not only within our literary and cultural landscapes, but also within our hearts and minds. Together, we can build a brighter future where the power of words and ideas knows no bounds. May this festival be a source of inspiration, knowledge and joy for all who have attended.
Thank you for being a part of this.
ALSO, Quramo Festival Director, Lolade Akaka, described QFest as “a celebration of the power of words and the beauty of literary arts and culture” while giving her vote of thanks:
As we draw the curtains on the Quramo Festival of Words, QFest 2023, I am honoured to stand before you to deliver a heartfelt vote of thanks on behalf of the entire organising committee.
First and foremost, I am grateful to you, our esteemed participants, for gracing this festival. We are humbled by your presence here tonight. Your engagement here and on social media, your questions, feedback and enthusiasm, have created a vibrant and inclusive atmosphere for our festival.
I am also deeply appreciative of all the speakers, authors, panellists, moderators, facilitators, performers, who have graced our festival with their knowledge and experience in various art forms. From James Murua and Kobby Ben Ben who came here all the way from Nairobi and Accra respectively, to Sarah Boulos, to Femi Odugbemi, to Jude Idada, to Kemi Ogunleye, to Chigul, to Bankole Olayebi, to Bode Abifarin, to Chef Imoteda, to Fu’ad Lawal, and so many more. Their contributions enriched this festival and left an indelible mark on our hearts and minds.
We cannot forget to acknowledge our sponsors, partners and collaborators who have generously supported QFest 2023. A special thank you goes out to HE Ambassador Peter Ryan, the Embassy of Ireland in Nigeria and the Friends of Ireland, Nigeria, for supporting and contributing to the festival by sponsoring the 10 creative workshops and hosting a panel and Irish Siamsa.
We thank HRH Prince Adesegun Oniru for his generous donation and support. And Mr. John Hines and VACC Technicals.
Director, Qfest 2023, Lolade Alaka awarding the N100,000 cash prize to the Poetry Slam winner, Afolabi Olayinka-Bello
We thank our event managers, Ms Bimbo Johnson and her team, Creative Workflow, for efficiently helping to bring our vision to life. And the management and staff of Eko Hotels & Suites for their decades-long support of Quramo.
We thank RovingHeights Bookstores, Narrative Landscape Press, The Crown Troupe of Africa, SPAN, The North Library and CORA for their participation and session curation. We thank Hanker and Reech Goods, Toriara Naturals and The Republic Journal for contributing 30 to 50 of their brand products to support our raffle draws this year.
Finally, we thank TVC News, Pulse and Megalectrics, home to Classic FM, The Beat FM, Lagos Talks and Naija FM, for their media partnership that helped the festival’s publicity a great deal.
Your belief in our vision and your commitment to the promotion of the literary arts and culture have been invaluable. Thank you for your unwavering support this year.
To Mrs. Gbemi Shasore, our convener and formidable visionary. To the dedicated members of the festival planning committee, Ms Aduke Gomez the festival curator who also hosted two sessions at the festival, Folakemi Philips who handled communications and publicity, Oyin Talabi who handled sponsorships and taught a creative workshop, Segun Aribisala who coordinated the volunteers and offered support in numerous other tasks, and Cynthia Offor who handled administrative and secretarial tasks.
To the staff of Quramo, and the countless volunteers who worked tirelessly behind the scenes. To Gloria Olufeko, our able compere has guided us through two long days of back to back activities. I say a big thank you. Your dedication, creativity and passion have been the driving force behind the success of this festival.
Finally, I want to extend our gratitude to the broader literary community. QFest is a celebration of the power of words and the beauty of literary arts and culture, so it is through your collective efforts that we continue to grow and thrive. As we conclude this remarkable journey of words, let us carry forward the connections we have forged, the knowledge we have gained, and the inspiration we have received. Together, we will continue to connect the dots, building bridges within our communities, our nation, our continent and the world.
Thank you, once again, for being a part of the Quramo Festival of Words 2023. Let us continue to celebrate the powerful diversity of words, keeping the spirit of QFest 2023 alive throughout the year, until we meet again.