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With LABAF 2022, Lagos bathes in 7-day cultural feasts, from Monday, Nov 14

‘Dedicated to the celebration of the eminent life and distinguished career of the eminent painter, printmaker, and art teacher/mentor, – -Bruce Onobrakpeya, who was 90 on August 30, the 2022 festival will realise its programming objectives through Book readings, book and arts exhibitions, conversations, colloquiums, seminars, symposiums, and performances of diverse disciplines and by various troupes’

AFRICA’s prime ‘feast of LIFE & IDEAS’ – the Lagos Book & Art Festival (LABAF), begins in grand style on Monday, November 14th, 2022 with a youth political forum focusing gaze on the role of, and contributions of the youths to the Nigeria 2023 electioneering season; and a BookTrek featuring latest publications in the Nigerian Book shelf.

A 7-day cultural extravaganza, LABAF 2022 will run from Monday November 14 through Sunday, November 20 on the theme — Pathways to the Future, both at its permanent physical venue, Freedom Park (Lagos Island) and virtually via Zoom, and accompanying social media platforms – Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. 

LABAF 2022 is the 24th edition of the annual Literacy campaign that was founded in 1999 by the continent’s leading culture advocacy group, Committee for Relevant Art, CORA, as a literary festival for “freedom of creative expression to herald the rebirth of Democratic governance in Africa’s biggest nation”, but which had suffered seemingly intractable military interregnum since mid-1960s.  

With more than 50 books in focus, over 60 independent sessions — all happening in one expansive and serene venue and virtually, creatives and art enthusiasts at home and in the diaspora, are looking forward to a full week of deep engagement with the written words (textual and in conversations), visual arts (fine and applied arts and crafts) and performances (in poetry, drama, dance, music) as well as in networking and communal sharing.

In an earlier announcement, the festival curator/director Jahman Anikulapo, said: “The discourse around ‘Pathways to the Future’ is meant to figure a way out of the ‘State of Flux’ which led us to a ‘Fork in the Road.’ If we’re not attempting to imagine the society we are going to build at the end of this messy journey, then we shouldn’t be around here.”

In explaining the thematic thrust of the festival, the Program Chair of CORA, Anikulapo adds: “As Nigerians are warming up to elect a new crop of leaders in February 2023, how important is it for them to make informed decision in order to bring about the much-needed and much-talked-about national rebirth? How can Nigerians gain redirection away from the status quo? What is the place of artificial intelligence in the creative ecosystem? What are the recent technological inventions that can help an effective literacy campaign and in what ways can these also assist in remodeling and conscientizing the citizenry?”

“LABAF 2022 will answer these questions and many more, particularly, in the wake of a perceived notion that the country is at a breaking point. Its long-suffering youths yearn to take over the reins. Such as never seen before, the nationwide protests against police brutality — #EndSARS, seems to have emboldened the S’orosoke Generation, whose members think there is no better time than now to take charge of the country’s helm of affairs; ostensibly to redirect the destiny of the continent’s biggest nation, and world’s biggest concentration of Blacks.”

…A feast for the Grandpa of Art, Bruce Onobrakpeya @90

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With LABAF 2022, Lagos bathes in 7-day cultural feasts, from Monday, Nov 14 3

DEDICATED to the celebration of the eminent life and distinguished career of the eminent painter, printmaker, and art teacher/mentor, – –Bruce Onobrakpeya, who was 90 on August 30, the 2022 festival will realise its programming objectives through Book readings, book and arts exhibitions, conversations, colloquiums, seminars, symposiums, and performances of diverse disciplines and by various troupes.

Though it began as a literary festival in 1999, LABAF has in past decade and half, transformed to a platform on which other culture producers, creatives  and service providers curate and  deliver their projects. Thus, aside 32 curated events by CORA, the festival will feature over 30 partner-programmes include sessions by eminent literary organisations such as the Pan African Writers Association, PAWA; Poets Essayists and Novelists  PEN-International; and Association of Nigerian Authors, ANA, among others.

The Festival also has a strong and robust children/students/youths section – Green Festival realised through its 17-year-old partnership with the Children And The Environment, CATE, and its 3-year-old CORA Creative Youths Club, CYCC.

For the festival’s main literary sessions, Anikulapo stated: “some of the significant books selected for the festival this year include: The United States of Africa by Abdourahman Waberi, The Tomorrow’s People: The Future of Humanity in Ten Numbers by Paul Marland, Mo Gawdat’s Scary Smart’s The Future of Artificial Intelligence & How You Can Save Our World, Ian McEwan’s Machines Like Me and People Like You, Ayodele Arigbabu’s Lagos 2060, Kim Stanley Robinson’s New York 2140, Itse Sagay’s All Will Be Well, Yemi Ogunbiyi’s The Road Never Forgets, Lawson Omokhodion’s Powered by Poverty, and Muyiwa Kayode’s Brand Nation.

“Others are SoroSoke by Sunday Akande, Vothuno by Babatunde Olaide-Mesewaku, Ashlee Vance’s Elon Musk-Tesla, SpaceX and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson’s Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty, Olutayo Irantiola’s The Okeho Exodus, Wole Soyinka’s Of Power and Freedom Vol. I & II and Wole Soyinka: Selected Poems 1965-2022: A Retrospective.”

The children/students/youths section is also featuring over 12 books written largely by children and youth authors, who have been fished out by the curator-producer of the Green Festival, Sola Alamutu aka ‘Green Queen’, founder of the Children And the Environment, CATE, the main collaborator of CORA on the LABAF project for 17 years.

The Visual Arts Section


THE Festival is also featuring seven visual arts projects, which are, all dedicated to celebrating Onobrakpeya’s life and career. These are:

  • Songs for the Weaverbird: Writing and Art’, a display of over 30 paintings and mixed media arts in celebration of the late bard and librarian, Christopher Okigbo. The 6-day exhibition curated by the painter, art historian, Professor Chuu Krydz Ikwuemesi, and produced by Sankofa Centre for Art and Creative Education, Enugu, will open formally at 11 am on Tuesday, in the Museum Gallery of the festival village, Freedom Park by Broad Street, Lagos.
  • The Onabrakpeya @90 Showcase featuring a few of Onobrakpeya’s metal & found objects works mounted around the park, produced with the Bruce Onobrakpeya Foundation. These are conceptual installations by the iconic printmaker that are hardly seen in public. “The works are being exhibited to serve as models of mentorship to younger artists, who usually lament their frustration of lack of resources to realise their vision and projects, that they could think out of the box, and use and adapt materials found in their environment to create works of enduring quality,” stated the Festival progarmme directorate.
  •  Erections are Coming,’ a virtual display described as a creative art space for artists to comment, introspect or engage in satirical fun as catharsis on the concept of elections, especially in view of the ego-driven antics that typically add spectacle to the campaign trail. It is curated by the architect-writer, Ayo Arigbabu and the experimental photo and art-documentarist Aderemi Adegbite.
  • Eja ni’, an art performance by Yusuf Durodola described as a “testimonial prediction of what is to be experienced in the next four years of Nigerian political life…”  “What we need is not what we are chasing! We embrace the mundane where our collective evolution is being discerned by some set of us. Is it not worrisome how our poor livelihood is being rebranded to assume a new look? How did we get to this dehumanizing situation, and for how long will it last? The answer is for us all to figure out.” The performance is produced by Yusuf Durodola Studio.
  • ‘Timeless Memories: Elastic Effects. Connecting the Lines between Soyinka and Fagunw,’ an exhibition in celebration of Wole Soyinka @88. It is the 5th episode of the Timeless Memories: Elastic Effects series which is based on the book, Forest of a Thousand Daemons: A Hunter’s Saga, with translation by Soyinka. It examines the acclaimed book of one of Nigeria’s foremost Yorùbá fantasy writers, D.O Fagunwa.
  •  ‘Don’t Eat Garlic Near The Queen,’  a performance art by theinternationally renowned Performance artist, Jelili Atiku.

As part of the visual artssection, Concrete Thinking, a book by the Octogenarian artist-architect,  Demas Nwoko’s  (New Culture Publications) examining Nwoko’s artistic practice, philosophy, and architecture, released in October 2022, and documenting his thoughts and philosophical leanings in the spheres of art and culture, as contained in various essays, both previously published and unpublished, written over the duration of his eventful multi-disciplinary career as a fine artist, lecturer in theatre arts, stage designer, architect, sculptor and builder. Concrete Thinking will be presented alongside his also newly published autobiography, The Happy Little African Prince. The book presentation is produced by Dreams Art and Design Agency while special guest of honour is Nwoko.

On the whole, LABAF 2022 will feature a medley of panel sessions, animated conversations, poetry slam, music, dance and other art genres to navigate the different ways through which mankind can prepare for the imminent future whose signs are already upon us.

The Lagos Book and Art Festival is arguably the oldest surviving festival in the country yet, it has kept relevance through recalibration, reinvention and rediscovery. This year 2022, the biggest festival in sub-Sahara Africa is on course once again to: redirect, re-orientate and chart new pathways for Nigerians, nay for humanity in general, through the instrumentality of the art.

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