Thursday, October 19, 2006


At 15, CORA celebrates culture in book fiesta


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Women writers

Photo: Sun News Publishing

Although the opening day was threatened by a downpour, this did not deter hundreds of artists, writers, culture workers, and journalists who trooped to theOnikan venue of this year's edition of the Lagos Book and Art Festival (LABAF).

Organised by the Committee for Relevant Art (CORA), the festival which entered its eighth edition this year held between September 15 and 17 and was graced by notable men and women of letters drawn from within and outside the country. Also in attendance were book exhibitors, arts and crafts dealers, publishers, musicians and art patrons. Even children were not left out of the yearly ritual as they also had their workshop which was graced by such prominent writers as Professor Pat Utomi, Chief Rasheed Gbadamosi among others.

CORA's effort in this edition was to bring every participant under a big canopy with its educative and entertaining activities cutting across all spheres of arts such as poetry readings, seminars, art exhibitions, drama and musical performances, arts stampede as well as workshops and talks for authors and kid writers. The festival itself was a welcome development by all and sundry and an improvement from last edition in terms of quality programming and audience participation. The keynote address on the opening day was delivered by Chief Rasheed Gbadamosi a playwright and forme rminister of national planning.

The first segment of the event commenced with StoryTime flagged off by Aunty Noma. There was also readings of poems from Wings of Dawn by women Writers Association (WRITA), as well as Orita Meta by Peju Alatise, Araceli Aipoh-No Sense of Limits and Mobolaji Adenubi's Splendid. Women writers also had a discussion session on how they write and concluded that they all write about their experiences, as they have to disover themselves, and set the goal of seeing the female writer as a veritable voice in the literary world.

Seyi Solagbade and his Black Face band and Adunni and her group Nefertiti, thrilled the audience with beautiful renditions of songs. The exhibition hall too was a beehive of activities as it was adorned with beautiful art works of different shapes and sizes. Some of the paintings and crafts were seen hanging on the wall, the ceiling and everywhere. This year's exhibition which was titled The Dawning of Dreams featured works of artists like Mufu Onifade with his Araism, Washington Uba Chukwuemeka, a photographer, Nkechi Nwosu-Igbo, an installation artist and Atiku Olorunfunmi an art activist.

Facilitated by Goethe-Institut, a discourse on arts reporting was anchored by Gerd Mauer, a visiting German radio presenter and a former African correspondent who grew up with a large number of African writers. Meuer has the privilege of having translated works such as Wole Soyinka's Ibadan, The Burden of Memory and a Climate of Fear. He was the major speaker at a workshop tagged: Reporting the Arts. Meuer who spoke about his experiences in journalism also gave hints on the basics and rudiments of reporting the arts. According to him, art pages in Germany are reported on a daily basis with a large section given to the art on the pages of newspapers. He also recounted how he got into journalism, his sojourn in Nigeria during the arrest of Wole Soyinka, how he used to visit Soyinka in prison, his reportage of environmental issues as well as how he covered African countries as an environmental journalist. He however lamented that the level of professionalism in the Nigerian context is no longer what it used to be.

Professor Pat Utomi spoke on the topic Book in My Life while Chief Rasheed Gbadamosi launched Dr Sola Olorunyomi's new book on Afrobeat, Fela and the Imagined Continent. The second day saw children displaying their creative ingenuity in art, dance-drama, craft etc. This segmentwas co-ordinated by Footprints Art Academy which gave a drama presentation which preached against child abuse and the negative effect of abortion. Also the Children Art Movement International thrilled guests with a drama sketch on the need for parents to educate their children. The drama also gave highlights on ways of building future leaders and making them useful to the society.

Professor Utomi had a good time with the children as he lectured them on the benefits of reading. Odia Ofeimun and Bisi Sylvia on third day, had a dialogue on the 15 years of CORA: An appraisal. Odia spoke extensively on the history, achievements, shortcomings and innovations of CORA noting that the committee had lived to its billing as one of the leading voices for cultural revival in Africa. The group which started as an advocacy team had held well over 50 public discussions many of which have helped to influence government policies in the promotion and propagation of the country's culturalheritage.There was also an art stampede on the achievement ofthe Nigerian literature after twenty years of the first nobel prize. This session was facilitated by speakers such as Gerd Meuer, Araceli Aipoh among others.

The festival came to an end at the Terra Kulture with performances by Footprint Academy and the NationalTroupe of Nigeria in a drama titled Idemili.The Goethe-Institut also entertained guests at the institute with film shows, The Edukators and Go for Zucker.

Other dignitaries at the event included, GboyegaBanjo, Professor Pat Utomi, Chief Frank Okonta, RichardMofe- Damijo, Jennifer Osammor, Rita Dahl from Finland, Mobolaji Adenubi, Elder Steve Rhodes among many others.

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