My AkeFest16 Experience (A Photo Gist)

I was at Ake Arts and Book Festival 2016 yaaaaaaaaaaaay! And yeah I already did a thought(s) piece here http://www.bukrepublik.com/blog/2016/12/20/twelve-thoughts-on-ake-festival-2016/
This time I’m sharing the pictures I took and the stories behind them. By the way Ake Arts and Book Festival 2016 took place from 15th to 19th November, 2016 in Abeokuta, Ogun State Nigeria
N. B. No photos with my face in it, I’m shy like that. *Covers face*

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Prima facie proof I went right? Like I need to prove a thing! Man! I carried that thing on my neck all three days, from about nine in the morning till like eleven, twelve midnight or so? Well that was like a first for me, I usually just stow it away in the conference backpack or file. And it felt really cool you know, going through the streets of Abeokuta, Kuto market (I walked the length and breadth looking for something that ought to be as common place and available as water? Maybe. And when I finally got, no change. Nigerians! And then Oke Ilewo, miles away to use the ATM. I believe it must have informed some price hikes too. A bike man was going to take 500 to get me to Olumo rock from Kuto! I ended up paying 300 trust me.

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That’s the Alake of Egbaland giving welcome remarks. The way his announcer or courtier or watchamacallit kept shouting Akio! Akio! At intervals, blowing his kakaki. I immediately tapped into a new goal, to be a king! Of course I had several goals by the end, notable amongst which is one that has to do with beard, and a beard gang, not me of course, but then… I digress. That was Leye Adenle inspired by the way. So Adunni Nefretiti is singing, ‘A ki ki Oba ni idide, a ki ki Oba ni inaro…. Eyin aroba fin….’ and I’m telling my non Yoruba friend they’re putting you disrespectful guys in your place, lol. We get up to greet the king.

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That’s Lola Shoneyin, the convener of Ake Arts and Book Festival. Man! That woman’s got sprint. The way she jumps up and down, you wouldn’t believe her age. Like I know it. And she almost gave me Lola goals, with the way I kept hearing different variations of her name. Loola, Lolah, Loulah and what have you. Plus her marketing skills, unmatched. She kept on marketing the Ake App to us like… And she kept on coming to announce someone misplaced this or that. AkeFest16 just gave me hope that Nigeria is still a good place afterall. Someone even misplaced an iphone and it was found to be returned!

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Those are my tickets, I  forgot to snap the one for the movie, Hissene Habre: A Chadian Tragedy. I missed the concert. Why? Because the Abeokuta traffic made sure to keep me on the road till about eight or eight thirty on Wednesday, and so when I finally got to my hosts’, I was practically grounded because there was no way of coming back transport wise and it was not too safe to be out that late. Of course I had to follow the gist on twitter so I still have my ticket. I believe it’s going to become a collector’s item in a few years and then I’d sell it and be huuuuuuge! I’m keeping it. The movie was very cool. I was busy eating dinner I didn’t realise they’d started the movie but I got in early enough to enjoy it. AkeFest16 was such that you could be eating away or lounging away the whole time while the real deal took place so you had to make up your mind and choose your battles. You know what I mean. Hissene Habre:… is about a Chadian dictatorship told from the point of view of survivors and their struggle to start over again, rebuild their lives, forgive and at the same time get justice. It was a laughing and crying affair but it was so cool. Then there was an interactive session with Clement Abafouita afterwards. I like that name, the way it’s pronounced in French, like claymon! I even tried to speak some French to him lates, then he decided to translate. God! My French is not that bad, I just need time to translate in my mind and I’m good.
There was Iyalode of Eti on Friday night! Man! First half comedy, second half tragedy. But those guys man! I loved the way they translated Yoruba wits and proverbs smoothly into English wisdoms. And their lines! Punch lines man! There’s this very interesting one when Iyalode is toasting her would be secret husband and she’s like ‘do you like my flower?’ OMG. That was it! Like really? Flower? The play was really entertaining, I lie not. But then first half ended like eleven thirty? That was late man! Bright side, there were lots of edibles to eat and drink. Had a great time.
That other ticket was for a book reading, I missed it. You know I actually saw them sitting round on a mat in the gallery and I just passed by wondering what they were doing. Funny enough, I ended up buying the book, Route 234.  I sure would get it signed, all authors, I’m relentless like that.

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That up there was my first meal at Ake, the one I was eating I didn’t realise the movie had started. By the way that’s Ake Rice with beef and chicken and a bottle of Schweppes. Actually my friend and I were on the queue wondering what kind of rice we were about to be served when a guy quipped from behind, ‘Ake Rice’. At Ake, the struggle for jollof is real! I didn’t get to eat jollof eventually. It was always ‘finished’. That thing up there was supposed to be fried rice, but it wasn’t. It was rice spiced with some green stuff I still think must have been green onions or green vegetable as in ‘Tete’ if you no what I mean. We sha ate it o. But the meat was good. I’m sure my pad didn’t do a great photography job there. Pardonez-moi,mes cheries.

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That’s the only French session I went for in Ake. You know I’m in love with the French language like that. It was basically about writing in French, translating French works into English and vice versa and eschewing the dichotomy between French literature and Francophone literature. It was cool. I was like high on French. And so were other peeps in the chat room. The discussants, Alain and Marguerite, Alain especially didn’t want to end the session again o. It was as if chatting in French let them talk more. It was great.

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I took this picture on Friday morning. This is the cinema room where most of the chats and panel discussions took place. I was so early they were still cleaning the place when I got there. Early bird things. So I took this immediately it was open for use. I just love this particular picture. Don’t you?

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Art works displayed in the exhibition hall. Dysmorphia and other thoughts by Ayobola Kekere-Ekun. She good!

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The coloured parts are basically native fabric, actually. Feel that?

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Ah yes! I climbed the Olumo! I climbed the Olumo! Yippee! That’s a view from before climbing the long winding staircase. Cool right! And my friend made me run after her climbing the stairs! Punishment for making her wait for me while others went in earlier.

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Rock! Rock! Rock all the way. We even had to pass through  the war hide out bent and hunch backed but then we made it.

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That’s the path we were supposed to take up to the peak of the mountain. Man, maybe I gave it a thought. Just maybe, until Chinelo Onwualu pointed out the fact that even the tour guide was taking the stairs. Man! The stairs it was for me then! Some guys took that path though, respects!

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And yaasssss! I made it to the peak. This is a view of Abeokuta from the peak of the Olumo rock. It was so fun and easy climbing,of course with my phone in one hand and a drink in the other. Lola told us to go with mountain friendly footwear at the tenth hour, but then, even my not so mountain friendly shoes survived.

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That was some legendary moment happening there. Professor Ngugi wa Thiong’o in white, Okey Ndibe, Molara Wood and Lola Shoneyin presenting Adire outfits to Prof Ngugi. For me, the highlight of this session would be Kola Tubosun’s ‘Awon Elebi’ interjection while reading the Yoruba version of Ngugi’s ‘The Upright Revolution’. I have a good mind of asking Kola Tubosun when I see him if that was part of the story or a personal addition to emphasize Yoruba people’s insultive prowess.

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Last meal at Ake. Let me tell you how this happened. We buy tickets and queue up for Jollof Rice. As usual, it finishes. We return the tickets, my friend and I. The volunteer is nice. He encourages us to try something else. No, we don’t want to. We want proper food, namely rice. We go out to scout for food. There’s a restaurant we’ve earlier spotted. We get there, they’re closed. We try to look for something else, nothing. We ask around, it’s a park, we can’t get good food or food as such. We return. Maybe there’s food in the exhibition room? Stands are all set up. No, they’re drinks for the after party. We make a compromise. We return to the volunteer and buy tickets, he’s smiling. I’m taking swallow, she’s taking yam porridge. That’s the abridged version of how I had my first ‘Isu Eba Merin’  at a go. Man! That was an experience. A legendary one. I suffered lack of storage facility for other edibles afterwards, namely the Palmwine and Poetry and afterparty stuff. By the way that’s Eba/Garri with Egusi and Vegetable soup with Stockfish and Beef. Maximum respects to myself.

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The volunteers! How could I ever leave them out. They were so nice! So hospitable! They were just bae! Love to you guys…
And it’s a wrap! AkeFest16!

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