April 15, 2024
Review

BAF opens pathways for better storytelling, networking, collaboration in Africa, says Graham-Douglas

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  • February 4, 2024
  • 5 min read
BAF opens pathways for better storytelling, networking, collaboration in Africa, says Graham-Douglas

By Godwin Okondo

THE third edition of the Beeta Arts Festival, an all-inclusive festival for African arts and culture, ended on a high note. The five-day celebration of creativity held in Abuja last December was undoubtedly a fusion of creative minds that spotlighted both emerging and established African performing artists in film, music and fine arts, who showcased their crafts to an excited audiences.

With Abuja Continental Hotel as the main hub, amongst other locations, reputable arts and culture professionals from within and outside the country, members of the diplomatic community, government and celebrities were treated to a rich blend of workshops, conversations, book readings, film screenings, stage plays, music, competitions, storytelling sessions, games, among other engaging activities, including a festival market and curated experiences.

The pre-event activities included virtual and physical workshops and discussions, including storytelling, singing, branding and communication, publishing, acting, producing, directing and navigating mental health issues, etc. The facilitators included heavy weights such as award winning director of the 200 City Choir, Shallom Matthew, play director and scriptwriter Joshua Alabi of Kininso Concepts, actor and director Olarotimi Fakunle and the founder of Paperworth Books, Ibiso Graham-Douglas, amongst others.

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Producer, Beeta Arts Festival (Theatre segment), Olarotimi Fakunle (left); founder/director, Beeta Arts Festival (BAF), Bikiya Graham-Douglas and actor, Tony Edet (Thin Tall Tony) during the 2023 edition in Abuja and organised by Beata Universal Arts Foundation (BUAF)

A star-studded cocktail event at 6ixx Bar and Grill had notable personalities such as actor Anthony Effiong Edet (TTT), reality TV personality OJ Posharella, award winning actress Ivie Okujaye, Fakunle, members of Abuja Literary society, the Deputy High Commissioner of Botswana, NANTAP president, Israel Eboh, Senator of the FCT, Hajiya Ireti Kingibe, who had a representation, among others, in attendance.

The 2023 edition of the Beeta Arts Festival showed solidarity with 16 Days of Activism in collaboration with the United States of American Embassy in Abuja, Senator of the FCT Hajiya Ireti Kingibe, whose gender based violence-focused not-for-profit, Orange Initiative, in conjunction with the American Film Showcase, held a Spotlight Screening and Panel session that showed films such as Nevertheless by Sarah Moshman and Movement. These works highlight the soft power of storytelling to address social issues.

The main festival activities took place at the Abuja Continental Hotel that included stage plays, film screenings, and music. The festival’s specially crafted experiences included storytelling by Aunty Shine Shine and Painting Corner by Fawzah. Physical and virtual workshops were facilitated by Dr. Agozie Ugwu, Nadira Shakur and Mr. Michael Afenfia. Films screened at the Beeta Arts Festival were curated in collaboration with Manyatta Screenings in Kenya and the works showcased were from Uganda, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda and Morocco. Also screened at the festival were homegrown and diaspora Nigerian titles including work by Kagho Idabhor and Momo Spaine.

The plays performed at the festival included works from the alumni of the Beeta Playwright Competition, including Adesewa Akinyemi, John Ekpeno Ukut, Paul Ugbede, Ronke Gbede and newly curated works by Fakunle. Seasoned thespians who directed plays included Abiodun Kazeem, Akinwumi Wealth, Olarotimi Fakunle, Mandu Okpako. Some notable personalities who brought some of the characters in the plays to life included Daniel Okosun, Bunmi Sogade, OJ Posharella and Tony Edet (Thin Tall Tony), who were also goodwill personalities of the festival.

A book reading event took place with the presentation of the new work of Adaora Onyechere Sidney-Jack Power, Pu#%y and Politics, a gender advocate and media personality also alludes to the commitment of BAF’s keen interest in women-related social issues. According to the author, the book was written to shed light on the important role women play in changing and reshaping the political landscape for collective growth and national progress.

According to the founder and Festival Director, Bikiya Graham-Douglas, the goal of the Beeta Arts Festival 2023 that had ‘New Narratives, Limitless Possibilities’ as theme is to bring creative minds and the community from across Africa together to showcase authentic African stories while opening up pathways for better storytelling, networking, collaboration. She said BAF is a meeting point for different artistic expressions.

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Shallom Matthews performing

In her words, “We are committed to giving rising stars a platform to showcase their creativity and provide room for networking that creates lifelong collaborations to enhance arts and culture and the creative economy in Nigeria and Africa.”

The 2023 Beeta Arts Festival was sponsored by Chairborne Global Services Limited, First Bank Nigeria, The United States Embassy in Abuja, Century Energy Group, Abuja Continental Hotel, Doyenne Circle, Development Bank of Nigeria, and supported Diageo, Pepsi, Zenith Bank. Media partnerships include Cool FM, Wazobia FM, Nigerian Info FM, Classic FM, Beat FM, AIT, Channels TV, Arise TV, Bella Naija, Y Naija, Pulse NG among other media partners.

The closing soiree was a feast of spoken word and poetry by Sade the Hope Dealer from Chicago, painting, games, dance competition and Music by AJB Entertainment Beeta Arts Festival show that it is a truly interventionist event for growth in African arts and culture. The closing ceremony was a feast of spoken word, music, dance and the famous jollof rice eating competition.

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