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Feast of ideas, life enlivens Lagos culture landscape, celebrates Ajai-Lycett @80

*AnoteArtHub launches with seminar on arts, culture magazine publishing

*As ‘A Fork in the Road’ theme maps a country’s uncertain political trajectory

*Publishers brainstorm on getting books to readers November 18 @Freedom Park

By Godwin Okondo

ALL is set for the commencement of the 23rd edition of Lagos Book & Arts Festival (LABAF 23.0: 2021), organised by the Committee for Relevant Arts (CORA) and slated to hold from November 15 – 21, 2021. The programme, dedicated to stage matriarch Taiwo Ajayi-Lycett, has as theme “A Fork in the Road”, and promises as usual to be a feast of ideas and life, with a focus on education, enlightenment and empowerment.

Among the flurry of events to kick-start the week-long festival of ideas on Monday, November 15, 2021 is the launch of the newest online arts and culture magazine, AnoteArtHub, which will also feature a panel session on publishers of art and culture blogs and magazines at 4pm. It has as theme ‘Prospects and Challenges of a Culture Magazine in the Nigerian Arts and Culture Ecosystem’ and will feature some heavyweights in the online arts and culture publishing environment. They are Toni Kan (Publisher, lagosreview), Pelu Awofeso (Managing Editor, Travu), Okechukwu Uwaezuoke (Publisher/Editor-in-Chief, Artbeat), Tajudeen Sowole (Publisher, African Arts with Taj), and Oludamola Adebowale (Publisher/Editor, ASIRI Magazine). The session will be curated by journalist, writer and publisher of AnoteArtHub, Anote Ajeluorou.

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Taiwo Ajai-Lycett @80: Stage matriarch to be honoured at LABAF 2021.

Other events that will take place on the first day, aply tagged ‘Festival Libation’, include the opening of ‘CORA Young Creative Club’ which will also feature workshops and performances and open by 10am and will run for the duration of the festival. This will be followed by a virtual hangout session at noon with the theme ‘#EndSARS: The Politics of Youths and Creative Documentation’ where the #EndSARS campaign will be reviewed, with a view to making a case for youth participation in politics. It also takes a critical look at the creative sector as it captured that once-in-a-lifetime youth uprising and the intrigues that scuttled it.

Also to be featured is a project initiative at 2.00pm in a panel discussion tagged ‘African Writing: The Journey with James Currey’ which will look at the contributions of the 85-year old literary activist and retrace the history of African literature from the 1960s. The panel will feature the winner of the maiden James Currey Prize for Literature, Ani Kayode Somtochukwu, James Currey Fellow at the University of Oxford, Stephen Embleton, and special guest of honor, James Currey. It will be curated by the founder of James Currey Prize, Onyeka Nwelue, whose recent novel, The Strangers of Braamfontein, won him the Association of Nigerian Authors’ (ANA) Prose Fiction Prize.

The day’s event will also include readings and conversations around the newest books on the Nigerian shelf. This will kick off at 5.00pm and feature books published in 2020 and 2021. It will be followed by an evening of music and film screenings, featuring Dj Valentino, ‘Taiwo Ajayi-Lycett: Matriarch of the Act’ and Terh Agbedeh’s LABAF: Through their Eyes. Special guests for this programme include CORA Board members and LABAF Volunteer Corps, as well as the festival’s honoured guest, Ajayi-Lycett.

But as usual with LABAF, the Publishers Forum kick-starts off the week-long programme a week before main acivities start next week. And in keeping with that tradition, the forum’s programme will hold on Thursday, November 18, 2021 at Freedom Park. It will give Nigerian publishers opportunity to brainstorm on how to get books to readers across the country using bookstores and resource centres such as libraries. It’s the 9th Publishers Forum by CORA in conjunction with Quramo Publishing, which is advertised as ‘a convergence of publishers, book sellers, dealers, writers, and readers on developing new strategies for effective and wide distribution of books across the country’. It has two sessions, with the first centering on the theme ‘Getting Books to Readers across the Country’ and will be lead by the President of the Booksellers Association of Nigeria (BAN), Dare Oluwatuyi, with the President of Nigerian Publishers Association (NPA), Chief Uchenna Cyril Anioke as respondent.

The panelists for the first session of the Publishers Forum include the MD of Lumbooks, Rufus Onaopemipo; writer and literary activist, Iquo DianaAbasi, Founder of Bookworm Cafe, Farida Ladipo-Ajayi; and Co-founder of Roving Heights Books, Dotun Eyinade. The second session deals with the ‘Role of Library and Resource Centres in Getting Books to Readers’ and has as lead discussant Dr. Nkem Osuigwe, of African Library and Information Association and Insititution (AFLIA), with the Chairman of Nigerian Book Fair Trust, Prince Gbadega Adedapo as respondent. Thereafter, the panel which has Convener of Sunshine Book Club, Princess Irede Abumere; Publisher of Purple Shelves, Amara Chimeka; Founder and CEO of i-Read Mobile Library, Funmi Ilori and writer and literary activist, Ademola Adefolami will engage in a panel discussion on the stated theme.

Meanwhile, goodwill messages will be received from veterans in the book trade that include the former President of Pan-African Booksellers Association (PABA), Mrs. Oluronke Orimalade, Publisher of Safer Books, Pa Modupe Odoyoye and the MD of Booksellers, Ibadan, and patron of Nigeria Publishers Association, Dr. Kolade Mosuro. The Publishers Forum will be moderated by publisher and President of Network of Book Clubs and Reading Promoters in Nigeria (NBRP), Richard Mammah.

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