* Sule, Johnson, Ekwuazi headline festival
THE fourth edition of Benue Book and Arts Festival (BBAF) 2022, billed for the state capital, Makurdi, and starts from Monday, June 20 through Saturday, June 25, 2022. The themed is ‘Art and the Convergence.’ There will be virtual sessions throughout the festival, with daily critique and writer sessions at 4:30pm at Metroprime Hotel from June 20 – 23, 2022, with palm wine reading on June 23, 2022. There will be a high profile conversation on ‘Deconstructing the Canon: Literature, Language, Theories, Politics and Nationhood’ that features Professors Dul Johnson and Emmanuel Egya Sule and other scholars. Su’ur Su’eddie Vershima Agema and Oko Owi Ocho are Festival Directors 2022.
The other aspects of the festival are scheduled for Steam Lounge, Old GRA, Makurdi, Benue State, on June 24 & 25, 2022 from 9am to 9pm. Registration for the festival is mandatory.
There will be three keynote addresses from scholars who are multiple award-winning writers across the genres. Professor Hyginus Ekwuazi discusses the convergence of the Nigerian film story with modern undertones via Zoom on June 22, 2022, Professor Dul Johnson looks at the convergence of things at the opening ceremony on June 24, 2022 at 10am, while Professor Egya Sule will dissect literature, activism and the contemporary quest for a leadership revolution in society on June 25, 2022.
In addition to the keynotes and panels, there will be a poetry slam competition with prize tag of N100,000 for the overall winner. It will take place on June 25, 2022. On the same day, there will be a competition for secondary schools that will feature drama, on-the-spot writing, and a spelling bee. It will also feature the book unveiling of two talented and popular poets, Umar Sidi and Oko Owi Ocho Afrika (who is a co-director of the festival for this year).
Benue Book and Arts Festival (BBAAF) is a top literary festival among other key festivals in Nigeria. Besides having literary workshops and keynote addresses, the festival comes yearly with a national contest in different art categories. Guests at previous festivals have included wife of the governor Mrs. Dr. Eunice Ortom, Professor Moses Tsenongu, Professor Dul Johnson, Dr. Maria Ajima, Pa Isaac Yongo, internationally acclaimed sensation Chuma Nwokolo, superstar spoken word artist Bash Amuneni, T. J. Benson, past presidents and chairmen of the Association of Nigerian Authors, Dr. Charles Iornumbe, Igba Ogbole, and Chinua Ezenwa-Ohaeto. Other were Edentu Oroso, Terseer Sam Baki, Thaddeus Naor, Sam Ogabidu, Amara Chimeka, Alexander Emmanuel Ochogwu, Anselm Sesugh Ngutsav, Joshua Agbo, Umar Yogiza, Bentex Torlafia, Maik Ortserga, amongst other notable officials, development workers, commissioners, and writers from the length and breadth of the country.
BBAAF is in its fourth year, with its maiden edition in 2029. The 2021 edition held virtually via Zoom and social media channels from August 4, 2021 to the in-person events at the Art Theatre Complex of Benue State University, Makurdi, on August 6 & 7, 2021.
Confirmed guests for this edition (virtually and physically) include Professors Ekwuazi, Johnson, Sule, Idris Amali, Ajima, Dr. Soji Cole, Bash Amuneni, Umar Sidi, Jerry Adesewo, Benjamin Bentex Torlafia, Yogiza, Amara Chimeka, Azafi Omoluabi, Iquo DianaAbasi, Raymond Anyasi, Kukogho Iruesiri Samson, Nana Awere Damoah, Bizuum Yadok, Romeo Oriogun, Aondosoo Labe, Dr. Chika Onyashiyiwa Ose-Agbo, and Dr. Peace Sorochi Longdet, Minoli Salgado and Emma Newport, among others.
The 2021 edition had as theme ‘Bridges Beyond Borders: Art Beyond Convention’ that examined how art functions as a nexus between humanity and development and the concept of freedom. It looked at art in its various forms or individually as bridges beyond borders (spatial, physical, geographic, emotional, etc). Discussions also revolved around mental health, sexual and gender-based violence, the role of art, artists and scholars in changing society. It featured keynote addresses from Professors Niyi Osundare and Leticia Mbaiver Nyitse. There were panel discussions and book sessions with multiple award-winning fiction writer and winner of The Nigeria Prize for Literature 2016, Mr. Abubakar Adam Ibrahim, celebrated Welsh-based Cameroonian author, Eric Ngalle Charles, foremost African travel writer, Pelu Awofeso, the poet Umar Yogiza Jnr and Agema, amongst others.
Other participants and attendees included multiple award-winning scholars and writers, Professor Moses Tsenongu and Ajima of Benue State University, Makurdi; Maik Ortserga, General Secretary of the Association of Nigerian Authors, outstanding writers – Dr. Agatha Agema, Servio Gbadamosi, and Aondosoo Labe. The festival also included a festival performance, an enactment of Agema’s Home Equals Holes: Tale of an Exile by Benue Poetry Troupe, live performances and a poetry slam competition which was won by Abbas Shittu Suleiman.
This year’s edition is put together by SEVHAGE Literary and Development Initiative, Eunice Spring of Life Foundation, the University of Sussex, Sussex Writes, and Gender and Environmental Risk Reduction Initiative, Sankofa Initiative, Mr. Tine Agernor, SEVHAGE Publishers and Purple Shelves publishers, with support from Goethe-Institut Nigeria.
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