Ake festival 2019 to kick off tomorrow

Book lovers, literary stakeholders and everyone inbetween are by now converging in an awkward line towards the most desirable destination any book head can be this season.



Because the Ake festival 2019 kicks off tomorrow.

The theme for the 2019 edition of Ake Arts and Book Festival is Black Bodies | Grey Matter, so the conversations will explore how our minds and bodies have impacted – and been impacted by – the course of history.

How have the contributions – physical and mental – shaped the world for both good and ill? What echoes of the past do we still hear today? Multiculturalism, colonialism, internecine violence, organised religion, cultural attitudes and practices have all left their mark. Specific phenomena such as scarification and tattoos leave physical traces while colourism, stereotyping and gender non-conformity exert their influence on both psyche and soma. Interrogation of these issues yields fascinating and illuminating insights, and in the hands of creatives and thinkers gives rise to works that enrich our understanding of the African condition.

Organised in partnership with Sterling, Ake Festival will once again bring together writers, artists, filmmakers, poets, dancers and thinkers from all over the world to support the goal of developing, promoting and celebrating creativity on the African continent. As such, the finest of contemporary African literature, music, art, film and theatre will be showcased in over sixty events.


Every year, the Festival is headlined by an African writer who has shaped literary culture and has challenged readers within and outside the continent through their storytelling. This year, Ake Festival will honour award-winning Zimbabwean author and film-maker, Tsitsi Dangaremgba. Her novel, Nervous Conditions, was the first novel in English by a Zimbabwean woman. It won the Commonwealth Writers Prize in 1989 and is considered one of the twelve best African novels ever written. She will be interviewed by distinguished journalist and editor, Molara Wood in the Ake Festival Life and Times Series.

Inspiring Panel Discussions

From 25 to 27 October, visitors to Ake Festival will be able to participate in 17 stimulating panel discussions which will tackle issues relating to the black body. Issues such as body modification and social acceptance; eliminating sexual violence; religious extremism in Nigeria and the mental health explosion, to mention a few.

Book Chats

In addition, there will be 12 book chats with exciting authors including Jamaican-American Nicole Dennis-Benn; Booker Prize shortlisted Angolan writer Jose Agualusa; two-time Booker Prize nominee Chigozie Obioma; feminist powerhouse Mona Eltahawy; founder of the African Poetry Prize, Bernardine Evaristo; award-winning Ugandan writer Jennifer Makumbi; We are delighted to welcome celebrated Nigerian authors like Helon Habila, Adaobi Nwaubani, Chika Unigwe and Ake Festival advisory board member Toni Kan. Abdourahman Waberi, one of Francophone Africa’s literary stars, will also join us from Paris.

Theatre, Concert and Art Exhibition

Other highlights of the festival include the Art exhibition which will showcase photographs that celebrate the diverse representations of the black body and mind. There will be on stage in Nigeria for the first time, an electrifying performance by dub-poet D’bi Anitafricka. Throughout the festival, there will be several films and documentaries on the big screen. No one should miss the performances by Nigerian and international poets on Sunday evening (27 October), same goes for the music concert featuring acts from the Lagos alternative music scene.

If you missed the online registration deadline, not to worry, you can still register at the venue.

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