I want to start this review with this, Ake Festival 2019 has been one of my best weekends this year. And you’re about to find out why in a bit.
The Aké Arts and Book Festival is an annual literary, cultural and arts event. It was founded in 2013 by Nigerian poet, writer and demi-goddess, Lola Shoneyin, you might know her as the author of The Secret Lives Of Baba Segi’s Wives.
Although the festival has featured new and established writers from across the world, its focus has been to promote, develop and celebrate creativity on the African continent in diverse genres.
The theme for Ake Festival 2019 was, Black Bodies, Grey Matter. No. Don’t roll your eyes, it sounds deep but it’s not as pseudo-intellectual as you might think. It’s explained better below:
We shall examine the physical, mental and emotional violence that has been and is being inflicted on black bodies, particularly those of women through conflict, colonialism, patriarchy, our cultural practices, and our attitudes.Akefestival.org
As it’s the usual culture, here on the blog, I’ll start with my highlights in no particular order.
–Playing dress-up: I only enjoy playing dress-up when I have events to attend. And Ake Festival 2019 was my runway. My outfits were made by my work colleague, Jola AKA @perlmutt_ on Instagram.
–I met all my bookish friends: I think this is something I love most about literary gatherings. The DM comes to life and you get to put faces to the chats. It was after the festival I remembered I didn’t take pictures with a lot of people but the memories in my heart live on.
–The Panels: Every panel and book chat I attended left me with a feeling of hope and faith. It was so refreshing and the guests were all so passionate. I didn’t attend the poetry presentations or films screenings or plays because I was so full from the panels. Also, I’m getting old and I really love my sleep.
–Meeting my favourite authors: When I fangirl, I go hard. I mean, I wore a T-shirt with the book cover of one of my faves, Bernardine Evaristo. I’m so happy I got to meet my favourite writers. It was so surreal. The fact that they recognised my fangirling work on the internet was a super bonus!
Here’s my lowlight: When I heard there would be vendors, I hoped for food but all we got were two food vendors, abula and sharwama. I expected more because the venue for the festival wasn’t in an area where we could easily get for food ourselves. There’s only so much coffee and croissants a girl can take before my ancestors start calling for spice.
On a final note, I’m grateful for this festival. The best realization was this: in spite of all the shit people are going through, things are being created every day, people are LIVING and that renewed my faith in me. I’m so fucking inspired! I can’t wait for Ake Festival 2020!
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