AN annual staple at the Lagos Book and Art Festival (LABAF 2022), namely ‘Timeless Memories: Elastic Effects’ returns this November. Curated by Oludamola Adebowale, the exhibition which opens on Tuesday, November 15 is a tribute to the works and legacies of the Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka.
The show which has as theme ‘Connecting the Lines between Soyinka and Fagunwa’ is also a celebration of Wole Soyinka at 88. For this year’s edition, Adebowale has prepared a traditional Yoruba-themed installation exhibition and literary discourse ‘Forest of A Thousand Daemons: A Hunter’s Saga’ based on the classic novel originally written by one of Nigeria’s foremost Yorùbá fantasy writers D.O Fagunwa in Yoruba but translated into English by Soyinka in 1968.
In anticipation of this project, the curator and producer, Adebowale said, “The dynamism of this project keeps changing year by year and the more we interrogate the works of Prof Soyinka, the more I create more intriguing and creative ways of presenting his works in a more artistic way. It’s been nothing but an absolute pleasure and delight to stand in this gap to work on the huge body of works ‘Kongi’ has blessed us with.”
This 5th episode of ‘Timeless Memories’ will interrogates Fagunwa’s book titled originally in Yoruba as Ogboju Ode ninu Igbo Irumole (1938) which tells a fantastic story of a hunter caught in a mystical forest filled with a thousand demons.
Ogboju Ode ninu Igbo Irumole is acclaimed as the first full-length novel published in Yoruba. In celebrating the genius of Fagunwa and bringing contemporary art installation and interpretation to this intriguing work, the essence of the book will be created in an art exhibition, installation and multimedia project.
Fagunwa as an author told stories with a fantastic tilt as far back as the 1930s. He was one of those who documented what can be regarded as fairytales heavy with elements of Yoruba folklore – spirits, gods, magic, and more. His skillful use of Christian concepts and traditional proverbs mark him as one who had a healthy knowledge of classical Yoruba ethos and spirituality. He did all these before the rise and popularity of fantasy and magic realism as sub-genres in literature. This is a master deserving of celebration.
The installation will entail the recreating of an enchanted forest with recyclable materials. A variety of indigenous masks representing a thousand demons will be deployed to symbolize the essence of Yoruba spiritualism and the mythical depths of Fagunwa’s literary brilliance. Ambience will be provided by audio readings of different excerpts from the book, with voice-over excerpts taken from both the original Yoruba text and Soyinka’s English translation.
The month-long show will be viewed at Kongi’s Harvest, Freedom Park, Lagos.