‘An Irish Evening: Siamsa versus Tales by Moonlight’ in Irish/Nigeria showcase
‘SPAN’s Sarah Boulos in Q Conversation with Gbemi Shasore’
‘Quramo Writers’ Prize award unveiling’
By Ozoro Opute
THE Quramo Festival of Words 2023, which has as theme ‘Connecting the Dots,’ will be held in a physical five-day celebration featuring 10 workshops on creative writing, six panel discussions, four book/author chats, a word slam contest, film screening, stage play, Chrysalis Conversations with Kemi Ogunleye, Qfest Conversation and the unveiling of the 2023 Quramo Writers’ Prize (QWP) winner. Also, there will be special appearances by the Irish Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Peter Ryan, with filmmakers Femi Odugbemi and Jude Idada, Morenike Olusanya, Yinka Davies, James Murua, Director of Alliance Francaise Lagos, Marc Breband, Blessing Abeng, Wana Udobang, Dwin the Stoic, and brand showcases by RovingHeights Bookstores, Anfani Clothing and Toriara Naturals making critical interventions. Venue for all activities is Eko Hotel and Suites, Lagos.
Creative workshops on ‘Self-Editing – How to Be Your First Editor’ will be conducted by Anwuli Ojogwu of Society of Book and Magazine Editors of Nigeria (SBMEN). ‘Writing to Get That Grant’ will be held by Linda Bembatoum while ‘Nothing But Bops — Writing for Music and Performance’ will be conducted by founder of St. Claire Records, an independent record label, Dwin the Stoic. He has written for Adekunle Gold, Ibejii, Jessica Bongos, Bigfootinyourface, and many more. His music was featured in NdaniTV’s Skinny Girl In Transit, award-winning ‘37 To Go’ and the Netflix Original, Far From Home.
‘Stories in Visuals; that include ‘Picture Book Illustrations for Children’ by Morenike Olusanya (Renike) will cover the fundamentals of creating physical or digital art that’s vivid, compelling, and optimised for multi-formats and especially appealing to children’s creative minds (with the facilitator’s work on Girls Can Dream by Jasmine R. Owens as a case study). The class will cover the intersection between concepts, storytelling, use of colours and physical versus digital tools. The target audience is visual artists, digital illustrators, children’s book illustrators and book cover artists.
‘Videography for Social Media and Content Marketing’ curated by Abisola Alawode (Zikoko) follows. Video content creation is key to selling anything from business to politics, and of course, art, with the birth of a generation who think of visuals above all other formats.
Day 2 will continue the Creative Workshops series and have ’Show Me The Money’ in focus. It will be conducted by Kenyan blogger, Mr. James Murua (writingafrica.com). You are a writer. You are a poet. You already know the basics of the craft and now want to make it in the publishing business as the next big writer or poet. How do you build a career in this business? How do you make a living? In this workshop with James Murua, you will learn how the best in the African writing and publishing industry have been able to make it to the big time.
Quramo Writers’ Prize jury head, Dr. Eghosa Imasuen (left); Friends of Ireland, Mrs. Aduke Gomez; Qfest Festival Director, Lolade Alaka; Qfest comvener, Mrs. Gbemi Shasore; prize jury members, Mrs. Lechi Eke and Mr. Anote Ajeluorou at the press briefing heralding the 2023 edition of Quramo Festival lof Words
This will be followed by ‘Scriptwriting — Adapting Book to Stage and Screen’ curated by multiple award-winning Mr. Jude Idada. Now more than ever, more books are being adapted to film with the birth of a new generation, who think of visual entertainment first before other art forms, replacing the position books have held for centuries. As a country with a strong literary collection of classic and contemporary offerings, we’ve seen the trend get picked up, from Half of a Yellow Sun to Swallow, and most recently Tracia Nwaubani’s I Do Not Come to You by Chance. Book-to-screen adaptation has therefore become an emerging necessary but rare skill. The class will cover the intersection between literature and cinema in storytelling in two practical sessions. This will be followed by ‘Bestseller to Blockbuster — Best Practices for Book-to-screen Adaptation’ by award-winning filmmaker, Mr. Femi Odugbemi.
‘Distributing Your Art — From Retail Stores to Digital Markets and Social Media’ will be conducted by Adedotun Eyinade (RovingHeights) while ‘Avoid the Block — Wellness for Creatives’ will be handled by Oyinkan Talabi (BodyWorks Fitness).
On Day 3, Friday, October 6, there will be ‘Festival Sessions’ with an opening ceremony keynote address to be delivered by the Country Manager for Paramount and ViacomCBS Networks Africa, Mr. Bada Akintunde-Johnson. He oversees entertainment brands such as MTVBase, Nickelodeon, BET and Comedy Central in Nigeria. He’ll be speaking on the festival theme “Connecting the Dots”. This will be followed by ‘Writers’ Chat: In Conversation with the QWP 2023 Finalists, featuring the 2023 top five shortlisted writers of the annual Quramo Writers’ Prize. The shortlisted five writers will speak to the audience about their potentially award-winning manuscripts and share their inspiration for writing in general and the stories in question, and responding to deep inquiries into what makes up their manuscripts. It will be moderated by journalist and researcher, Feyi Ijimakinwa.
Panel sessions will also characterise Qfest 2023. ‘Fintech as a Catalyst to Nigerian Creativity’ on seamless payments to financial fluidity will feature fintech leaders and top commercial creators, Bode Abifarin (Flutterwave), Daniel Orubo (PiggyVest), Enajite Efemuaye (Pivo), Morenike Olusanya and Blessing Abeng, to dialogue about how helpful this relationship has been in recent times, considering the debilitating economic landscape, the progress made so far on both ends and projections for the future. This will be moderated by Ngozi Chukwu (TechCabal).
Culinary delight will have a part in Qfest menu with ‘The Travelling Sauce: Cross Border Food Collaborations’. So from white and Asian takes on staples like jollof rice, Nigerian stew and fufu, to our status as holders of the Guinness World Record of the longest cooking marathon, Nigerian cuisine is slowly taking the world stage. Could we be next in the line of French, Italian, Mexican, Chinese, Indian and Korean cuisine, to take position as an established menu recognised worldwide? Top commercial culinary creators Feyikewa Animashaun (Kewa’s Kitchen), Rotimi Alabi (Chez Ro) and Chef Imoteda will dialogue about the global future of Nigerian cuisine considering the widespread migration of citizens around the world and the debilitating economic landscape in Nigeria, the progress made so far and projections for the future. Moderation is by food tourism specialist, Michael Balogun.
Book Chat continues with ‘Telling Our Own Business Stories,’ and curated by RovingHeights featuring a chat on two recent business memoirs: Vantage by Olumide Soyombo and My Entrepreneurship Journey by Austin Avuru, and moderated by Damilare Dosunmu (Rest of World) and Sade Onabowale. Curator will be Sade’s Book Club).
Film screening featuring The Wave by Kjohns Films that connect to East Africa in line with Qfest theme will be showcased. from Ugandan, Kjohns Films will screen its 81-minute production, directed and produced by Kevin Johns Nabukenya. The Wave is a family drama inspired by true events, set in one of the biggest slums in Uganda (Namuwongo). Lots of families in Africa suffered from fear, hunger and death all resulting from the Covid 19 pandemic and the measures to cub its spread. This will be followed by ‘Chrystallis Conversation’ with Kemi Ogunleye on ‘Connecting the Dots — From There to Here and Everything in-Between’. ‘Chrystallis Conversations’ are one-on-ones between Kemi Ogunleye and her guests, followed by an interactive segment with the audience. This edition will feature Chioma “Chigul” Omeruah, and as is characteristic of the typical Chrystallis style, the discussions will be heartfelt, authentic, emotive and highly engaging. The goal is to foster an atmosphere of community and connectedness, uplift the audience, and ultimately inspire them to be courageous in the pursuit of their dreams and aspirations.
Quramo Word Slam tagged ‘ConneXion’ will feature spoken word poets and top of teh range performer walks away with N100,000. Poets and spoken word artists are invited to spit their best bar and compete. The word slam is a poetry and spoken word competition, featuring 15 to 20 contestants with one winner of a cash prize. This year’s theme is ‘ConneXion’, where ‘X’ represents the factor that helps each person connect the metaphorical dots, in line with the festival’s theme. It’s hosted by spoken word artist and co-founder of Jamit, Koromone Asabe-Yobaere.
Day 4 continues with Festival Sessions, and Book Chat with ‘Parallel Universes: Interconnected Short Stories’ featuring. This is based on the subliminal understanding that while the short stories in a collection feature different plots and characters, the idea, theme and even setting are always the same. This unifying thread often creates characters who appear to exist in parallel universes, making their lives somewhat interconnected by a unifying thread when a writer weaves the stories and the reader thinks back upon them. We invite short story writers and published authors of collections, Tall Tales by Obi Echezona, Sixty Percent of a True Story by Osisiye Tafa, Who Drove Nearly All Lagos Men Mad? by Ugochukwu Ugonna, to discuss how intentional versus natural this concept is and to share the individual writing journeys that have led them to choose the short story form as opposed to full-length plotlines.
A panel session ‘Ancient African Art and Culture: The Looting, Return and Preservation’ will showcase from the return of a fraction of the looted Benin Bronzes and the 600-year-old Ife Heads, to renewed conversation around the disappearance of Nok Art – arguably the world’s oldest art collection – and the Igbo Ukwu, Nigeria is slowly recovering its true identity as ancient and classic creators of art and culture, a status that has long been monopolised by the Western world. Now, the conversation must be “How do we preserve these invaluable works of art, and how do we document our side of the looting-and-return story for posterity?” We invite renowned art curators and historians, figures who have been at the forefront of the recovery of our artworks, to dialogue – not based on hearsay but on firsthand experience – the way forward for African Art and Culture. Panellists include Jahman Anikulapo, Yahaya Maikori and Omotayo Adeboye (retired National Museum Curator). The session will be moderated by Fu’ad Lawal (archivi.ng).
Qfest convener, Mrs. Gbemi Shasore presenting Word Slam prize to 2022 winner, Solutionist Clementina
Another Author Chat on No One Dies Yet by Kobby Ben Ben with James Murua, Kenyan literary blogger and founder of writingafrica.com, James Murua will discuss African queer literature and Ghana’s queer underground with Accra writer, Kobby Ben Ben, through his genre-breaking debut novel No One Dies Yet. The sixth panel is on ‘Nigeria & Ireland: Commonalities Amongst Former Colonies?, and curated by the Irish Embassy. Nigeria and Ireland were both British colonies — Nigeria for a century, and Ireland for 800 years. The two countries have even more in common, from patron saints to the colour green to love for Irish potatoes. The Irish consulate of Nigeria is curating the Qfest special to initiate a conversation around these commonalities and ways in which both countries can continue to document their history as separate from the influences of their shared ex-colonisers. Panellists include the Irish Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Peter Ryan, Mrs. Aduke Gomez and Oriyomi Jimoh.
Panel seven is on ‘Global Rights, Local Rights: Whose Rights?’ Since the days of Chinua Achebe and Wole Soyinka’s feature on the Heinemann African Writers Series in the 1960s to the influx of UK and US-published Nigerian and African authors of the last two decades, our home-grown literary talents have since offered the Western world their worldwide intellectual rights seemingly on a platter. But why don’t these foreign publishing houses come to Nigeria and partner local publishing houses for these rights? Instead, they offer them the African rights of Nigerian writers. We invite founders and creative leaders of Nigerian publishing houses, Azafi Omoluabi (Parresia Publishers), Bankole Olayebi (Bookcraft), Ibiso Graham-Douglas (Paperworth Books), Eghosa Imasuen (Narrative Landscape Press) and Lanre Shasore (Quramo) to dialogue about the ways in which they’re changing this narrative and the projections for a future where Nigerian writers in Nigeria have equal opportunities for literary fame. This panel is moderated by James Murua.
This is followed by ‘An Irish Evening: Siamsa versus Tales by Moonlight’, curated by the Irish Embassy. Continuing the Irish Consulate of Nigeria Qfest special, the consulate hosts a Siamsa (Shee-am-sa) evening, featuring an Irish interactive folk theatre show that expresses mirth and music and is uncannily similar to Nigeria’s ‘Tales by Moonlight’ tradition. This session will feature the Irish Ambassador and members of the Friends of Ireland, Nigeria. It’s hosted by Aduke Gomez. Whereas panel eight will feature ‘Local Culture for a Continental Audience’, and curated by Narrative Landscape Press. The panel aims to foster conversations on creating and experiencing elements of local culture, and distributing them to a continental audience for the long-term goal of connectivity. Panellists will discuss their experiences with creating, consuming and distributing books, movies and food in particular.
A stage play Our Story, Our Area by Crown Troupe will feature an hour-long drama piece that encapsulates the Nigerian history, featuring dance, music and spoken word. It’s directed by Segun Adefila. Our Story, Our Area is a reflective but humour-laced dance theatre that will take audiences on an evocative journey, and serves as a vibrant tribute to Nigeria in a season of her Independence anniversary and is a reminder of the power of artistic expression to convey complex narratives.
On Day 5 Qfest comes to a close with more stimulating events, starting with welcome address by festival convener, Mrs. Gbemi Shasore. Thereafter, there will be a spoken word presentation by Wana Udobang and a dance presentation by the Society for the Performing Arts in Nigeria (SPAN), followed by Q Conversation featuring SPAN founder, Mrs. Sarah Boulos. Festival convener, Shasore will engage veteran dancer and CEO, the Society of SPAN, Boulos, in conversation. Q Conversations are enriching and insightful conversations with an accomplished creative personality on their journey, achievements, personal life and everything in-between.
This Quramo-curated special sets out to highlight the experiences and achievements of distinguished individuals. It is a conversation piece and a continuation of the Kuramo Conferences instituted in 2009, which has featured Wole Soyinka, Zambian economist, Dambisa Moyo, and British politician, Sir Paul Boateng. journalist, Kadaria Ahmed, and founder of Bookcraft, Bankole Olayebi, who joined us for revealing and enlightening talks at the inaugural edition of the Q Conversation in 2019. Since then, Qfest has had Femi Odugbemi, Folarin “Falz” Falana and Bolanle Austen-Peters on the hot seat.
A fitting round off of activities for Qfest 2023 is the Quramo Writers’ Prize 2023 Award Unveiling. This ceremony will feature a keynote address by the Director of Alliance Francaise, Lagos, and a musical presentation by Yinka Davies. The 2023 judges, Eghosa Imasuen (co-founder of Narrative Landscape Press), Lechi Eke (three-time QWP judge and literary critic) and Anote Ajeluorou (veteran journalist and ex-Guardian Arts and Culture editor) will read citations of the shortlisted top five, and the winner will be presented with the Quramo Quail brass award, a certificate, publishing contract and cash worth N1m!