Tom Adaba, Adenrele Niyi, Mike Ekuno in BookTrek train
THE CORA BOOKTrek is a focal project of the Committee for Relevant Art (CORA). Essentially a book readings and reviews session, it deliberately chooses the text considered most engaging of extant issues in the Nigerian nation and, by extension, the continent of Africa. It is part of CORA’s extension services to promoting reading culture, deepening literary appreciation and audience engagement with the published text, as well as spreading campaign for literacy towards boosting citizens’ Education, Enlightenment and Empowerment. Essentially, it is designed to achieve CORA’s fundamental mission of increasing Human Capital capacity of the nation and the continent.
Usually, the BOOKTrek is staged in select bookstores where chosen texts could be seen and bought and the author able to have direct engagement with the public. However, due to the support of Hawthonden Foundation, the Community Literacy Outreach variant of the BOOKTrek was launched in September. This involves the book and the author moving into select communities, which is the birth meaning of BOOKTrek – the book literally walking!
Still in its pilot scheme, the CORA BookTrek: Community Literacy Outreach (CLO) is designed to have two editions per month in different communities. So far four iterations have been held in a planned 6-pronged scheme. In September, CLO launched out in the Lagos Island with Freedom Park as host, then moved to Magodo (Mainland), hosted by Unchained Vibes Africa (UVA). In October, it was the turn of Ejigbo (hosted by iRead Foundation), and the Shomolu-Bariga axis hosted by Crown Art Factory. The CLO plans to be in Ajegunle and Ikorodu in its next moves. However, at LABAF, the BOOKTrek assumes its traditional character of celebrating the text and the author at the big festival of Life and Idea, as outlined below.
On Day 3, November 15, the first BOOKTrek for the LABAF 2023 will have two authors engage the audience on the contents of their books. There’s 2’WHYT GbeduPoet’s Usokun Boy (2023), a collection of poetry that elevates the mentality of a people, inspires the younger generation towards greatness and motivates the youth to become audacious ambassadors of their villages, whether small or big. Otatane-oso Freeman Andrew, who is professionally known as 2’WYTH GbeduPoet, is a spoken word poet, author, singer, songwriter, photographer, videographer, among other skills. He was born and raised in Usokun, Cross River State. Also, Joshua Omeke will engage the audience with his collection, Joe’s Collectanea (2023). It this anthology of thirty-one poems, the author attempts to overview societal norms by incorporating reality and figures of speech in a standard practice in several of the poems. Omeke is a youth of mystical fingers that composes works of poetry as Igor Stravinsky since he has composed masterpieces in almost every topic he had written. Aside writing, he is also a paint artist
who draws inspiration from cubism and surrealism. He will aos handle a masterclass for young writers on developing skills for literary career.
BOOKTrek 2 will take place at CORA Library & Resource Centre. It will feature There’s a Heaven for Bad Girls, by Denrele Niyi, a collection of stories of four young women and four young men struggling to carve their own paths in a complex trado-modern Nigerian environment. From the nuanced interplay between individuals and systems, religion and culture, love and desire, to the hopelessness of aborted dreams, the stories in There’s A Heaven For Bad Girls offer a refreshingly youthful perspective on contemporary social problems. The author, Adenrele Niyi is a writer, culture journalist, who has been, among other roles, an Arts Editor of a Nigerian newspaper and the Associate Producer for the All Africa Music Awards (AFRIMA). A Nigeria Media Merit Award (NMMA) Entertainment Writer of the Year finalist, she is passionate about people, learning and adventure. She is also a member of the National Institute of Marketing of Nigeria (NIMN). The second book, Soul Lounge by Mike Ekuno is a collection of stories that mirrors man in his elements with a strong infusion of the Igbo belief system and cosmology. Fascination with black feminine mystique remains an on-going quest of many of the stories which are written to be felt not just read with Nigeria’s social conundrum all the while providing the stage on which everything plays out. Winner of the inaugural Harambee Literary Prize, Ekuno is a freelance book editor and creative writer with vast media experience in print, electronic and online media. He is published in over 50 international literary journals.
On Day 5, Friday, November 17,BOOKTrek 3 will be held at the Food Court, Freedom Park in what’s tagged ‘Authors Assembly’. It features three authors. The first is Wale Adeduro and his book, Obalende: A Nation in Motion, a creative narrative about the childhood experiences of Affiong, and highlights the emotional struggle of the girl child in the over-politicised Nigerian environment. Growing up with little or no care in Obalende, Affiong ends up contacting HIV/Aids as a result of the pressures of living in a one-room apartment which exposes her to several negative influences. Bewildered, she does not know how to get the emotional support she needs from the same society that hijacked her dream.
Fondly called Dr. WAO, Adeduro is a writer and an author whose works have been published since 1986 in several newspapers and journals, including The Guardian. He has multiple doctorate degrees in Productivity, Christian Education as well as Theology and Philosophy. He is also a Maxwell Leadership Certified Coach, Speaker and Trainer from the US. An alumnus of Lagos Business School, he was also once the Acting General Manager of the Musical Society of Nigeria (MUSON Centre). He is currently the Chairman of the Governing Council of School of Mentorship and Productivity.
Adebayo Olowo-Akewa’s Time & Chance describes the life of Lyonga Damisa, Nigeria’s engineering graduate boxer and an electrifying Light Heavyweight hopeful goes up against South Africa’s Oscar Malan — the African champion — a traditional pound-for-pound pugilist who has a reputation for taking no prisoners. If all goes well, the impending showdown looks set to become the digital age version of the iconoclastic ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ of the mid-1970s. The brain behind this massive fight is Patience Azar, flamboyant young female business mogul who upstages Mr. Ojomo, doyen of the fistic business in Nigeria. She, however, has to win over an often heralded but seemingly invisible South African boxing czar if her investments in a once-in-a-lifetime boxing duel must yield the anticipated returns. Time & Chance is a story of adventure, suspense and drama.
Olowo-Akewas holds a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology (University of Ibadan, Nigeria) as well as a postgraduate degree in History (International Relations at University of Lagos). He later attended the Austrian Study Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution (ASPR) at the European University Centre for Peace (EPU) in 1996, and the International Institute of Humanitarian Law in Sn Remo Italy in 2003. His work experience spans journalism (print and electronic), the private sector (in corporate affairs and planning) in Nigeria before moving into the technical diplomatic space where he worked for 20 years, with postings to many contexts involved in armed conflict and natural disasters in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. His other works include Mermaid on the Island Thunder, Lightning & Storm (as Debayo Adelaja-Olowo-Ake—2019: Lulu Publications UK); Combat Zulu (as Debayo Adelaja-Olowo-Ake—2020: Lulu Publications. UK; Sunrise in Paradise (2019: Lulu Publications UK); The Journey of a Passport (2022: African Resource Development Centre Ltd Gte. Lagos); Time & Chance (2023: Lagoon-Atlantic Publication Ventures, Lagos).
Day 6 on Saturday, November 18 will witness another ‘Author’s Assembly based on reading and conversations around Dotun Famoriyo’s Better Tomorrow. Through the experiences of the main character, Dayo, the author reveals the cardinal principles of making it in life. These include having a mental disposition that change is possible, paying attention to one’s studies, working hard, taking to the counsel of parents and responsible elders and developing a deep relationship with God. Aside being a creative writer with remarkable writing skills, Famoriyo is also the Founder and Chairman of Cheetahs Policy Institute, a think tank aimed at promoting the ideas of public policy among the next generations of leaders.
Dear Mother by Nora Sanya recounts the life of 12-year-old Dayo, who is faced with the challenges of growing up in the suburban town of Monatan in the ancient city of Ibadan, and he has to navigate through the world of friends, school and the intricacies of a young adolescent boy. He has come from a difficult childhood, but nothing much prepares him for the world of uncertainty that life’s events suddenly hurl him into. Experience his joys, pains, adventures and griefs in the ‘Loving Daddy’ series. Sanya is a property and entertainment lawyer with an intense passion for writing for teenagers. Her sole aim of writing is to reach out. In a bid to better understand her audience, she bagged a diploma in Education from Tai Solarin University of Education, Ijebu-Ode. She lives in Lagos, Nigeria with her family, where she writes and practices.
BOOKTrek 3 is based on the theme ‘Biography reflects snippets of nationhood’, and featuring Aaze Tom Adaba’s But for God. A panoramic overview of this memoir traverses “my lifespan from conception and birth till date – my growing up years and foster care, my pursuits of education and career, and the cultivation of family – interspersed with failures, disappointments and health challenges, amid moments of exhilaration, surprise encounters and joyful outcomes along the way,” says Adaba. A broadcasting pioneer in Nigeria, Tom Adaba has had a stellar career that spans over five decades. Notable highlights include his influential roles at Benue-Plateau Television and as the pioneer Director General of the National Broadcasting Commission. Adaba’s contributions have shaped the Nigerian media landscape, paving the way for private media owners and the growth of Nollywood film industry. Beyond broadcasting, his mark as an outstanding teacher, driven leader, generous philanthropist and loving family man has trailed his rich legacy. His influence on the next generation locally and internationally is reflected in the many successful names in both private and public service that continue to praise this mentorship.
Day 7 on Sunday, November 19 is ‘CORA Advocacy Day’, as CORA Volunteers’ Corps Converge for the theme ‘Contemplating the Future’. The young literary-culture activists and intellectuals that constitute the CORA Volunteers Corps (CVC) will engage texts that discusses prospects of Nigeria’s future. Featured texts for this excursion Sycamore by Betty Zainab. Sycamore questions why people are allowed to trip and fall, and blame themselves for the greed and selfishness of others, especially when there is a child involved, and adults who should know better. Poet and writer Zainab Omotola’s (Sparkles) works are centred around issues such as abuse, faith, self-discovery, love and mental health. Her poems and short story are featured in Scratch Poetry Magazine, Top 100 Anthology of the Nigerian Students’ Poetry Prize (NSPP) and AFAS Review.
The second text is The Sun Shall Soon Shine, by Adejoke Ajibade—Bakare, which embodies life in its different phases and faces. It sheds a new light on life through the eyes of the author as she glides seamlessly and sometimes sharply through her various life stages. It is a representation of the dreams we all aspire to achieve from the womb to childhood, as a nation, as individual souls, and through life’s palaver. Poet and newspaper columnists, Ajibade-Bakare’s passion for poetry was born in 2009 during a transitional phase of her life into motherhood.