Tuesday, August 29, 2006


17 AUGUST, 2006


On Wednesday, 13 December 2006, the Iranian graphic designer Reza Abedini (1967, Iran) will be presented with this year's Principal Prince Claus Award of 100,000 Euros at the Muziekgebouw aan IJ inAmsterdam.

Reza Abedini is a graphic designer and a professor of graphic designs and visual culture at TehranUniversity. He emphasises the relationship between visual tradition and modern form, encourages research in the long and rich history of Persian art and calligraphy, and nurtures talent in the younger generations. Reza Abedini is granted the Principal Prince Claus Award in recognition of his personal creativity in producing superb graphic designs and his individual skill in adapting the knowledge and achievements of Iran's artistic heritage, making it new and compelling today. The award values and draws attention to the diversity of Iranian culture, both historic and contemporary. It recognises the impact of graphic design as a powerful global medium of communication, and highlights the tradition and role of graphic designs both in the laureate's own country and across the world.



LIDA ABDUL (1973, AFGHANISTAN) is a visual artist who uses diverse media including video, film, photography, installation and live performance to explore and visualise issues of home and identity. She fights against the senseless destruction of cultural heritage in her country and highlights women's role in society. The outstanding artistic quality of her work is combined with powerful political and social statements, and is recognised both within Afghanistan and internationally. Lida Abdul regularly exhibits and teaches in Kabul.

CHRISTINE TOHME (1964, LEBANON) is a cultural organiser, art activist and curator. In 1994 she founded Ashkal Alwan, the Lebanese Association for thePlastic Arts, a non-profit organisation that initiates and supports contemporary artistic practice. Through her work, she provides a platform for free thought and critical discourse in Lebanon, promotes and develops critical reflection and cultural theory, and fosters regional and international cultural exchange.


ERNA BRODBER (1940, JAMAICA) is a writer, cultural historian and social activist who has carried out pioneering research on oral history in Jamaica and is an important role model in her society. Using fiction as a medium, she has written ground breaking books in terms of individual and community identity formation, foregrounding the role of language in development. Erna Brodber is honoured for her innovative use of the Creole language and for her outstanding contribution to the promotion and establishment of local languages and cultures. This is the first Prince Claus Award in Jamaica.

HENRY CHAKAVA (1946, KENYA) is an innovative, courageous and enterprising publisher. He has published work by important writers and new voices in African literature, encouraged publication in local languages, and produced locally oriented textbooks.The Prince Claus Award honours Henry Chakava for his lifetime's work in developing African publishing, for nurturing and promoting writers in a difficult context,and for defying dictatorship in his own country.

FRANK A. TIENNE,(1936, HAITI) is a poet, writer, dramaturge and teacher. An important figure in the cultural history of Haiti, he is the author of the first novel in Haitian Creole and has written more than 30 titles. This award honours Frank à tienne for his lifetime achievements in the arts in a complex political context, for his poetic use of language, his radical stance on local languages, and his important contribution to regional literature and culture.This is the first Prince Claus Award in Haiti.


MADEEHA GAUHAR-(1956,PAKISTAN) is an outstanding actor, theatre director and women's rights activist. In 1983 she set up the Ajoka Theatre, which produces challenging, socially relevant works and performs in the streets and community spaces. Her aim is to promote a secular, humane, just and egalitarian society. She nurtures a new generation of actors and organises collaborative cross-border performances in India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Madeeha Gauhar is honoured for her artistic and social contributions to public theatre in South Asia.


MICHAEL MEL (1959, PAPUA NEW GUINEA) is a performance artist, thinker, communicator, curator and teacher. He lectures in Expressive Arts at Goroka University and his performance/installation work is innovative and culturally significant. Mel plays a key role in the cultural development of Papua New Guinea's highland community and is one of the few bridges between Papua New Guinea and the world, enabling better understanding of the complex cultural concepts and practices of the island. This is the first Prince Claus Award in Papua New Guinea.

COMMITTEE OF RELEVANT ART (CORA) (SINCE1991,NIGERIA) is an innovative, non-profit,activist platform for public expression,engagement and debate on cultural issues in Nigeria. Working through all legitimate means including a quarterly ArtsStampede, monthly Arthouse Forum, monthly music concert, yearly Book and Art festival, yearly film festival, and various publications and establishment of libraries, CORA encourages and creates an environment for the flourishing of contemporary culture. This award celebrates CORA's energetic activities and highlights the contributions of committed citizens in stimulating the arts.

AL KAMANDJTI ASSOCIATION (SINCE 2002, PALESTINE) is a non-profit organisation that gives music lessons toPalestinian children, particularly those living in refugee camps and marginalised villages in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Southern Lebanon. It enables the children to explore their cultural heritage, to open themselves to the outside world and gives them an opportunity to discover their creative potential. The award honours Al Kamandjti for creating spaces of hope for Palestinian children.


The National Museum of Mali in Bamako (reopened in1981, Mali) is a vibrant and outstanding cultural institution. The Museum plays a major role in the prevention of cultural looting and trafficking in the region, it educates local communities, and preserves and interprets local aesthetic heritage. Alongside its well-designed displays of the historical collection of over 6,000 objects in a building inspired by local Bambara architectural forms, the Museum stimulates contemporary art production and exhibitions. This award celebrates the work of the National Museum of Mali, highlights the role of museums in culture and development,and emphasises the importance of preventing cultural looting and trafficking.

In 2006, five new members joined the Prince Claus Awards Committee.
The committee for 2006 is composed of:
Niek Biegman, Chairman, former Dutch ambassador to the United Nations, photographer, Amsterdam /Janjina, Croatia
Manthia Diawara, professor of comparative literature, editor-in-chief of BlackRenaissance, author, filmmaker, Bamako, Mali /Accra,Ghana / New York,United States
Amitav Ghosh, author, Calcutta, India / New York,United States
Pablo Ortiz Monasterio, photographer, editor, Mexico City, Mexico
Mick Pearce, architect, Harare, Zimbabwe /Melbourne, Australia
Virginia Ratton, artist, curator, director of TEOR/Tica, San Jos Costa Rica
Selma Al-Radi, archaeologist, American Institute for Yemeni Studies, Baghdad, Iraq / Sanaa, Yemen
Fariba de Bruin-Derakhshani is secretary to the committee.
The Prince Claus Fund is a platform for inter cultural exchange. Working with individuals and organisations that are mainly located in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbeans, the Fund organises activities and publications on contemporary themes in the field of culture and development. The Prince Claus Awards form part of this policy.
Prince Claus Fund Hoge Nieuwstraat 30 2514 EL The Hague The Netherlands
tel+31 (0)70.427.4303 fax+31 (0)70.427.4277
10 years of the Prince Claus Fund-
2006 is the 10th anniversary of the Prince Claus Fund. Since 1997 the Prince Claus Awards have been presented annually to artists, thinkers and cultural organisations in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbeans.
Over the years , to shape its research on culture and development, the Fund has chosen "Humour and Satire (2005), "Urban Heroes"(2000) and "Creating Spaces of Freedom" (1999).
In celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Prince Claus Awards, the work and principal ethos of the Fund is this year's central focus.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

8th Lagos Book & Art Festival


The 8th Lagos Book and Art Festival (LABAF) is billed to run on the open lawns of the National Museum from September Thursday 14th - Sunday 17th 2006 and the Committee For Relevant Art (CORA) is inviting you toparticipate by showcasing your products to about forty thousand (40,000) residents of the city who are expected to attend the various events in the Festival in different capacities over a period of three (3) days.

CORA: CORA is a club of arts enthusiasts who are keen on improving the literary appreciation of the average Nigerian as well as increase the literacy rate in the country through non-governmental, informal intervention.

LABAF : LABAF is a culture picnic primed to attract families and a public that seeks entertainment. The previous seven editions have been filled with fun and thrills, with a full band performing, galleries displaying art, theatre performances, and a series of art, craft, textile, dancing workshops focused on kids, happening all over the open field.

The festival features scores of book stands, symposiums on literature as well as book parties. There are at least four drama skits and full theatre productions on the festival grounds throughout the three-day duration of the Festival. The idea is to make "The Book" have mass appeal. Ours is not a Book Fair. It is the city's prime culture picnic, an arts festival with a high Book content.

PROGRAMME (Tentative)

PREAMBLE: All Exhibitors are expected to arrive theFestival venue on Thursday Sept 14, and proceed to set up their wares in readiness for the formal opening on Friday Sept 15.

DAY 01; THURSDAY SEPT 14 11am:

Venue: Agip Hall, MUSON

2. ORONTO DOUGLAS co-author WHERE VULTURES FEAST-Reading Excerpts:

Drama Presentation: Moremi RSV by Ayo Arigbabu, presented by Crown Troupe of Africa


8am: Exhibition opens
9am: Children workshops open
10am: Opening: Keynote by RASHEED GBADAMOSI (Economist, Playwright, former Chairman ofNIDB) Theme: THE BOOK AND THE NATIONAL CONSENSUS Venue: Festival Ground

Chairman: Dr Paul Dike Chike Ex-DG National Gallery Of Art, NGA

12 noon: ROUNDTABLE Theme: WHAT DO WOMEN WRITE: (The Female narrative Voice in Nigerian fiction)

Books and Speakers:

Moderator: Omowunmi Segun

Speaker: GERD MEUER (former African Correspondent, German Public Radio, ARD) Participants Arts and Culture Journalists
Venue: Festival Ground (Courtyard)
(Collaboration with GOETHE INSTITUT, LAGOS.)

6pm: FILM SHOW: Title: The Edukators directed by Hans Weingartner. Germany 2004. Venue: GOETHE INSTITUT, LAGOS


8am: Exhibition Opens
9am: Children Workshops / Comics& Cartoons carnivalcontinue
Venue: Festival Ground

1pm: FEASTING THE 2006 PEOPLE * Celebration of the landmark birthdays of the members of the arts and culture family. * Short tributes by associates of the celebrants, highlighting their contributions to thedevelopment of the arts and culture sector of the economy.


3pm: SEMINAR (Plus Roundtable)
Speaker: GERD MEUER (Ex-African Correspondent,ARD)
Response: MANTHIAS DIAWARA (Prof) (New YorkUniversity, USA)
Discussants: Audience members
Venue: Festival Ground

5pm: MOREMI RSV, a play written by Ayo Arigbabu, performed by The Crown Troupe of Africa.
7pm: Film Show- Go for Zucker! directed by Dani Levy. Germany2004


8am: Exhibition opens
12 noon: Children Workshop / Comics & Cartoonscarnival continues
1pm: Festival Bouquet Theme: 15 YEARS OF CORA: AN APPRAISAL Speakers:

1.45pm: Family Blues- a stage adaptation of the soap opera by Just For You Media Outreach.
2pm: ART STAMPEDE Theme: 20 Years After The Nobel Prize

Topics & Discussants:

Impact on Nigeria Literature by PROF BIODUN JEYIFO
Impact on African Literature by PROF MANTHIAS DIAWARA
Impact on Global Cultural Discourse by GERD MEUER
Impact on African New Cinema Culture by AWAM AMKPA

Venue: Festival Ground

Other Programmes are: An Art Exhibition featuring works of contemporary artists

Launches and presentations of various books byNigerian authors based at home and abroad
Public presentations by writers and culture workers from other countries participating in the festival
Drama shows all through the festival
Movie screenings*
Workshop for the little ones on arts and craft, environment, story-telling, drama and dance etc

Should you require further clarification, please revert to the undersigned.

We thank you for your belief in the possibilities of this country.

Very truly yours,

Toyin Akinosho -Sec General

Jahman Anikulapo -Prog. Chair 234-(0)8022016495

The Comic Carnival Again


LC3 is a unique event initiated and coordinated by Evolution Media and is geared towards raising the awareness and sensitivity of the public (especially the youths) towards the vast field of cartoons and comics publishing while adding a boost to the nation’s reading culture.


Scheduled to run from Thursday 14th September through Sunday 17th September 2006 under the auspices of the 8th Lagos Book & Art Festival, we have designed this year’s carnival as a week long event to cater for the dual needs of exposition / networking and marketing / entertainment. In this light, the first part of the event will feature an interactive talk shop on industry related matters to be led by key resource persons.

As a follow-up to that, the second part will have a comics and cartoons trade fair running simultaneously with an exhibition of works by major players and emerging talents in the comics and cartoons trade.

The Talks:

We wish to invite you to a discursive forum on the comics and cartoons trade and other related matters. The talks will involve a panel of discussants drawn mainly from the creative industries, with an equally diverse audience offering comments and asking questions.

Theme: ‘Imagination: The weapon of the future?’

Music has been suggested in the past to be the weapon of the future. We choose to make a broader claim that imagination in its entire gamut is the weapon of the future. Few other creative enterprises demand such a high level of imagination from both the artist and the audience as the field of comics and cartoons…thus it is understandable that the music industry should thrive on animated videos and comic book - centric - graphics and visualizations; the movie industry is dovetailing more and more into the world of fantasia that comic books had created decades ago.
Advanced economies give a lot of attention to their creative industries, not as some sort of philanthropy but as a vital part of nation building – an exercise which in itself requires imagination in great doses. In Nigeria, can imagination serve as the weapon of the future? Or will the nation’s creatives remain a bunch of nerdy egg heads, relegated to their own world of self inflicted dreams?

Lanre Lawal, the 2005 winner of the British Council organized International Young Design Entrepreneur of the Year and CEO of front line design agency- Design Jockey Sessions will set the tone for the talks with a 15 minute introduction.
Evolution Media’s Sewedo Nupowaku will moderate the discussions.

Animation Presentation:

To spice up the talks, an exhibition of works of some leading animation and multimedia artists will be presented to the audience.

Date: Thursday 14th September 2006
Time: 11am - 3pm

Venue: Prospective venues include The Agip Recital Hall, Muson Center Onikan, Terra Kulture, Victoria Island and the National Museum Onikan. You will be informed of the final choice through subsequent communications.

Please communicate your interest / availability for the said talks to the undersigned. Your presence will be highly valued.

Yours faithfully,

Ayodele Arigbabu Sewedo Nupowaku
234-0803-3000-499 234-0803-3520-149
arigbs@gmail.com 234-0806-7421-215

Friday, August 25, 2006


Professor Teju Olaniyan's book made him a fitting discussant of the tribute to Fela Anikulapo-Kuti organized by Friends of the Arts, Lagos on the CORA platform. Olaniyan says the title was derived from a soldier's instruction to another of lesser rank in an attempt to stop Fela's subversive music from playing in a public place.
Talking of tributes, a blogger went to great lengths to pay homage to the Abami Eda through pictures and a synopsis of his life. See Mona's blog. Posted by Picasa


The 2nd Lagos Comics and Cartoons Carnival will take place at the National Museum Kitchen (opposite the Muson Centre), Onikan, Lagos. The Carnival will be a part of the Lagos Book and Arts Festival.

Date- 15th till the 17th of September. Posted by Picasa
Members of the Crown Troupe of Africa prepare for their outing at Terra Kulture, Victoria Island, Lagos-Sunday August 20. In the forefront of the picture is Mike Okorie. CTA's bukARTeria comes up monthly at Terra. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


Artistes and Music lovers celebrated Fela Anikulapo-Kuti worldwide on the occasion of the departure of the abami-eda or "strange being".
In Lagos, CORA did it the way it knows best, gathering people from far and wide for a conversation between Dr. Sola Olorunyomi and Professor Tejumola Olaniyan.
Posted by Picasa

The Cora Squad.

The Secretary General of CORA, Toyin Akinosho (left) in conference with the CORA Chairman, Jahman Oladejo Anikulapo(right) at Fela-versation held to mark the anniversary of the death of the musical icon, Fela. In the centre and background of the picture is the visual artist, Mufu Onifade, founder of the Araism movement in Art.
The Friends of the Arts, Lagos (FOAL), on the platform of CORA organized this event at the National Arts Theatre on Wednesday the 23rd of August. It was held in honour of Benson Idonije (see right of picture below) who turned 70 on the 17th of June. "Ben Jay" as he is fondly called, was Fela's first Manager upon the Kalakuta King's return to Nigeria in the 50s. He managed Fela's band, Koola Lobitos, as it was then known and was responsible for virtually all recruitment for the initial members including the legendary Baba Ani.

In the picture below, Dr Sola Olorunyomi (left) of the English Department of the University of Ibadan, author of the book, "Fela and the Imagined Continent", ponders on Idonije's words.
Olorunyomi and Professor Tejumola Olaniyan were the main discussants of Fela's works.

Also in attendance were Chief Rasheed Gbadamosi, Chief Okonta, Osaze Iyamu, Professor Femi Osofisan and many others. Posted by Picasa


Posted by Picasa


Fela-versation took place at the National Arts Theatre on Wednesday the 23rd. In the picture, one of the discussants and author of the topical book on Fela-"Arrest the music"-Professor Olaniyan (left) of the University of Wisconsin and the compere-Femi Akintunde Johnson a.k.a. FAJ, editor of many Nigerian Soft-Sells.
Just in case you're wondering about the house in the back-ground, it was built as the main set for the stage play, "Idemili", written by Dr. Ahmed Yerima. Since the discussion took place in the same hall the drama was repeatedly presented in, the house was incorporated as a back-drop. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Hafiz and Gbenga

The actors, Hafiz Oyetoro (left) and Gbenga Windapo perform at the Highlife Party organized by CORA in honour of Professor Osofisan, to mark the 60th birthday of the Dramatist and University Don, June 2006. Posted by Picasa

The Lion and The Jewel

Wole Soyinka's "The Lion and The Jewel" toured selected theatres in the United Kingdom. Directed by Chuck Mike, this 1959 play was presented at the Salisbury Playhouse, The Barbican, The West Yorkshire Playhouse, The Young Vic and many others.
The Cast included Toyin Oshinaike, Ombo Gogo Ombo, Omonor Imobhio, Isioma Williams, Shola Benjamin, Anthony Ofoegbu and Chloe Okora.
More pictures...
 Posted by Picasa

Osofisan at 60

The Glory Beats of Bayelsa were in Lagos to perform at the Highlife Party that celebrated Professor Osofisan, the playwright and University Don turning 60 in June. Posted by Picasa


Nigeria's foremost Music Critic turned 70 this year. CORA organized a party for him at its headquarters in Festac Town. Here he sits (far left) next to his daughter and the Music legend, Fatai Rolling Dollar (in dark glasses) Posted by Picasa


The Lumina Foundation organized the first Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa this August.
See more picturesPosted by Picasa

Thursday, August 17, 2006

4th lagos Book and Art Festival

In the picture, Ambassador Segun Olusola, the broadcaster and actor of The Village Headmaster Fame (in black and white stripes) says a prayer for the event. Posted by Picasa

The 5th Lagos Book and Art Festival

The 5th Lagos Book and Art Festival also acted as a forum to honour Francesca Emmanuel (Centre of Picture & in glasses) at 70. At the extreme right is the Matriarch of the Stage, Taiwo Ajai-Lycett. Posted by Picasa

Back in Time

The 2nd CORA Arts Stampede in September 1991. Posted by Picasa

A gathering of giants

At the Great Highlife Party organized by CORA at O'jez in Surulere to honour Professor Femi Osofisan as he turned 60 last June, many were gathered. In the picture from left, Femi Ashekun-the veteran broadcaster, Wole Soyinka and Steve Rhodes. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


After the meeting last Sunday, members of CORA and friends of the House celebrated life and the Arts. From left: Jahman Oladejo Anikulapo- President CORA and Editor of the Sunday Guardian, the playwright Wole Oguntokun, Actor and dancer Inna Erizia, the Architect and writer Ayo Arigbabu, the lawyer/writer Deji Toye, An Assistant Director at the Federal Ministry of Culture-Jide Ajibola, Toyin Akinosho-Sec.General of CORA and Joe Musa the Director General of the National Gallery of Art. Posted by Picasa

Monday, August 14, 2006


Talking Of Fela For Idonije-TWO Nigerians who have written the most definitive and revealing books about the status, art and politics ofthe legendary creator of afrobeat music, FelaAnikulapo-Kuti, will be on duty on Wednesday, August23 at the Cinema Hall II of the National Theatre,Iganmu Lagos. Time is 1pm.

Professor Tejumola Olaniyan, the Loiuse Durham Mead Professor at the University of Wisconsin, USA, and author of Fela: Arrest The Music and Dr Sola Olorunyomi, of the English Department, University ofIbadan and author of Fela And the Imagined Continent,will be guests at the August edition of the monthly Arthouse Forum, organised by the Friends of the Arts,Lagos, FOAL on the platform of the Committee for Relevant Art, CORA.

The event is in honour of Benson Idonije, the veteran writer on music and broadcasting, who was 70 on June 17. Idonije, who has written an average of three articles per week in The Guardian since 1996, was thevery first manager of Fela Kuti when he returned toNigeria in the 50s. In fact, Idonije recruited all the members of the then Koola Lobito band including the current leader of the band and Fela’s longest serving side-man, the tenor saxophonist, Lekan Animasaun aka Baba Ani.

According to the FOAL, the Fela Conversation(FELAversation) is designed to celebrate the fact that"Nigerian intellectuals have, at last, responded to the challenges posed by their counterparts from the West and Europe on the issue of articulating the epochal contribution of one of Africa’s leading cultural icons, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, to world culture.

"Before now, the works that had served as references on Fela Kuti were those authored by scholars who were either impatient with thoroughly understanding the complexities of Fela’s politics and arts, or were propelled by mindset about Africa and its people in terms of capability to contribute to a world of ideas even through music; or were just lazy in their approach to the research and the eventual writing.

"With Olaniyan’s Fela: Arrest The Music and Fela:The Imagined Continent, the authentic documentation of Fela’s iconoclasm is beginning to emerge. We are indeed proud of these two works and the authors."

The event will be moderated by Femi Akintunde-Johnson, former Entertainment Editor of The Punch newspaper, who later went on to co-found FAME and Encomium magazines, and now publishes Treasure magazine. Deacon Ayo Ositelu, a fomer editor of Sunday Punch,who did one of the most important interviews with Fela Kuti in 1994, will also reflect on the relationship between Fela and Idonije, emphasising on how mutual collaboration between the artiste and the journalist can yield substantial dividends for the individual careers of the two as well as the cultural heritage of the society. There will be a bandstand that will play lots of Fela’s numbers to aid the discussion.

"FELAversation is a musical exploration and picnic",says Chris Ihidero, FOAL’s programme officer. The event is supported by the management of theNational Theatre of Nigeria. Posted by Picasa


The following is culled from an interview granted by CORA to a national newspaper in January, 2006. The questions are nonetheless the kinds of questions that CORA functionaries have had to answer again and again, whether in private discussions or in public fora.

How long has CORA been in existence and what would you say have been your achievements till date?
The Committee for Relevant Art (CORA) came to life on June 2, 1991.

What exactly is CORA committed to?
It's a culture activist organisation with the agenda to do all its powers to help create an enabling environment for the flourish of the contemporary arts of Nigeria, in the forms of Literature, Theatre, Fine Art, Movie Making, TV Programme Design and Production as well as Music

Who are the people behind CORA?
It's a club of culture enthusiasts, really. The membership includes a working petroleum geologist, a newspaper editor, a finance lawyer, an architect, a literature scholar, a digital designer, two practising theatre artists, a painter/art curator and others whose interests are such they can't be pigeonholed. Even those whose vocations seem so clear also work in a multifaceted way that you can't say, well, they are strictly this or that. For example the newspaper editor is also a theatre artist and culture communicator, who is involved in the Tony Blair Commission for Africa. The architect writes a weekly column in a top quality magazine and has been selected for an intensive British Council sponsored writers internship. The geologist publishes a bi-monthly magazine and writes a weekly arts column; the finance lawyer writes for an oil and gas magazine and has written better literature reviews than some of the most noted literary critics in the land. The digital designer started life as a graduate of mathematics and has won a prestigious British Council facilitated international design award. One theatre artist runs his own theatre production outfit and works in the daytime for a human rights organisation. The other works for a Government Culture parastatal and writes full weekly movie articles for a leading newspaper. The artist/curator runs a design shop from his house. And there's a poet who is so fixated on his poetry that he runs a poetry association. This eclectic bunch makes up what we call the CORA Collective or Core Team. The age ranges from 45 to 21. But the average age is roughly 28. It is a 15 year old organisation. But it is a young body with a promising future.

How has CORA benefited the Nigeria Art World?
CORA is, at best, a facilitator of the sharing of ideas. We create the sort of interactions that lead to birth of ideas or sharpening of existing ideas. Some of the most forward looking initiatives in the Nigerian culture environment came out of CORA- organized talk shops. Among our programmes and activities are the following:

The Quarterly Art Stampede: This parliamentary event in which artists, art critics, art journalists and art connoisseurs gather to discuss hot burner issues in the arts and its 57th edition will hold in June;
The Annual Lagos Book & Art Festival: Dubbed "The biggest Culture Picnic on the Continent", LABAF is an art festival with a heavy book content and is a testament to the commitment of CORA that the only way to convert the ‘teeming’ population of Nigeria into a true human resource is to develop their minds. The 8th LABAF will hold in September, 2006.
Lagos – The City Arts Guide: This is a quarterly publication on the cultural life of the city of Lagos, arguably Nigeria’s culture capital and the entreport into the nation’s business and commercial industries. In its short time of existence, Lacag was already beginning to force on the consciousness of the practitioners in the culture setting of the city, the culture of disciplined schedule and calendar which is the hallmark of all advanced tourist countries of the world.
The Great Highlife Party: Held in conjunction with the management of O’Jez Nightclub, Surulere, Lagos, this monthly programme set out as a Highlife music revival forum and has additionally emerged as a forum for the celebration of landmark achievements of the best in the Nigerian cultural scene. Its 57th edition will hold in June.

We have also been collaborators on a number of other projects including - the BobTV annual Film and TV Festival, Abuja of which, starting from the 2006 edition, we are now the collaborators and resource facilitators for the colloquium; The Lagos Comic Carnival- the first edition of which we incubated in our Festival in 2004- an idea birthed by three CORA members in collaboration with the other group of young men and women creating a silent revolution in the newly developing area of comic publications and animation (they are so enthused they’ve started referring to it as an industry) in Nigeria.

What exactly is the Art Stampede all about?

There has been 59 Art Stampedes since we started. The Art Stampede is the best way to see what we mean by facilitating the sharing of ideas. The Stampede is a discursive platform, at which the burning issues of cultural production in the country are discussed by the artisitic community, or what you might call the cultural holoi poloi, every quarter.

Our very first stampede, held in Festac Town on June 2, 1991, had as its theme: What Literature? It problematised the issue of the quality of prose and poetry coming out of Nigeria. Writers tore one another’s works into shreds. Since then, the idea that Nigerian literature started and ended with Soyinka and Achebe started looking passé. We knew that people were writing and our discussants took a look at what they were writing. Nigeria may have won all the literary awards on the planet and that's almost true. But if you took a random sampling of the works of Nigerian writers; do you get a sense that ours is world class literature? That was what the stampede was about. One of the most recent stampedes was on the evolution of the Nigerian movie. CORA took the position that our home videos evolved from our TV soap operas (including the formats) and that the soap operas were coming from a tradition that started with The Village Headmaster, our first televised drama series. But we ended up discussing more about the distribution and piracy. We do take off on tangents at these discourses, but they help enrich whatever is in the air.

On the Lagos Book and Art Festival, what are the experiences like, since it started?
The Lagos Book and Art Festival is an advocacy idea; we are promoting the idea of people reading books; gaining knowledge, freeing themselves from ignorance. We have in it reading workshops for teenagers; panels discussions on contents of selected books; cross cultural exchange between Nigerian writers and writers from elsewhere in the world; book exhibitions and sales by publishers, book sellers, embassies etc; art and craft sales and art exhibition. Our audience keeps increasing year after year. 2006 will be our eighth edition.

Has it been good or disappointing?
It has been good in the sense that it is self-fulfilling for us.

Does CORA get sponsors for the festival?
Yes, enough to pay about a sixth of our total bill. It is a cheap festival; no more than Three or Four Million Naira. But all the income, including advert payments for our 24 paged brochure, never reaches One Million naira in a year. The rest we have to come up with, as individuals.

Over the years, has the conception of the Festival improved? If yes, in what ways for example?
Before 2004, we didn't think it'd be worthwhile to bring writers from other countries. But in 2005 we brought Antjie Krog, who is one of the top three South African writers, for a "literary duel" with Chris Anyanwu. We made sure that either of them read the other's major book. The "confrontation" was a blast. Krog, who is widely travelled, said she'd never experienced that sort of thing before. We also brought Chris Dunton, a British literature Scholar, from the University of Lesotho, to lead the discussion on Lagos in Nigerian Literature. The seminar was "Lagos in the Imagination". Also in 2005, we came up with the idea of a Book Trek which is a road show, sort of, of select books, both local and international, across almost all higher institutions in Lagos. It held in the two weeks leading to the Book & Art Festival.

What is CORA’s vision for the festival in 2006 and beyond?
This year we are hoping that we have a similar programme as last year. We’d love Akin Adesokan, author of Roots in the Sky to duel with Moses Isegawa, the Ugandan writer based in The Netherlands. Abbysinian Chronicles sort of rhymes with Roots In The Sky. Akin has read Abbysinian Chronicles, but we have only just mailed Roots In The Sky to Moses via his publishers in London. We hope he gets it. We hope he likes what we are doing. We hope he accepts our invitation. The other idea we are working on is having Karl Maier, author of This House Has Fallen; a damning book on the 1990s Nigeria, to come and dialogue with a panel of discussants. We are trying to evaluate, in full glare of the public, what foreign writers see when they pass through here. It’s not enough to dismiss these works as "Views from the Expressway". Let’s interrogate them.

How far has CORA gone with its library and reading promotions projects? Are there any functional libraries that CORA has set up as at this time?
No, and that's quite disappointing. We are looking to establish two libraries before this year comes to an end. The library is where we'd coalesce all our ideas about reading.

How important in your view are book clubs in the process of reading promotion in Nigeria?
Book Clubs are part of the extension service outposts in dissemination of the ideas in books. They are important. But they should go beyond the Victoria Island clientele, which they are now. How do you increase them and spread them out? By having libraries in all those big population centres: Oshodi , Ajegunle, Ipaja, etc. In those places you can't start book clubs without some place to gather. We are focusing on Lagos because it habours 10% of the Nigerian population. If Lagos is 15Million as they say it is, then having 15 well equipped, adequately staffed community libraries with community related activities along readership campaign in Lagos for a start is a much cheaper way to improve the ignorance of our people than building 15 schools.

Is CORA, as a body for the promotion of the arts in Nigeria ever going to introduce a writing competition in the near future, since they are in a better position to promote Nigeria writers?
We take it that ours is to facilitate improvement in the quality of writing; not test writing. To go to the first principle, we'd rather have reading activities in schools and in communities. But other organisations are doing that and we are keen on encouraging them.

You have carried on with this vision for quite some time now. Are there moments when you regret ever having begun? What kinds of things encourage you and what others cause you to be discouraged?
We are encouraged by the fact that people are doing things, around us that we'd said, 15 years ago, were possible and which in retrospect, we think we have willed to happen. 15 years ago, we worried about things like "Oh, the American Embassy is closing its auditorium against regular performing arts, or exhibitions". We worried that the places to go for the art show or an opera concert was the Italian embassy. For the most intellectual curatorship of art it was the Goethe Institut. But today, such places don't have foreign complexion anymore. You'd think of Nimbus and TerraKulture and Didi Museum if you want to engage Nigerian art. Those are owned by names like Chike Nwabogu, Bolanle Austen- Peters and Elizabeth Jibunoh. They have more programmes, individually or collectively, than the Goethe Institut. The opera venue, for those who want to see it, is Muson Centre, set up by a group of culture enthusiasts, some of whom come from Old Lagos money. These are things we have discussed at art stampedes. The ideas are taking flesh now.

Who is your ideal Culture and Tourism minister? What qualities should (s)he possess?
Someone who is ready to do the work, without being distracted by his own innate vanity. He doesn't need to be an artist.

Has the NLNG Prize made any difference in the Nigerian arts scene? What kind if any?
It is a good idea, no doubt. It is good for writers to compete to earn $20,000.00 as prize money. But it doesn't do more than just having a contest. So who were the winners of the 2004 award? Do you remember? What prizes do elsewhere is to link the writer with the market. This is why CORA chooses reading promotions and writers' workshops over writing competitions. In our view, the Nigerian Breweries Limited Reading Promotion campaign, which involved more than 200 secondary schools all over the country, is better as a capacity builder than an NLNG prize.

What should Nigerians expect in the 2006 Arts and Culture season?
It would improve, but not with any bang.