Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Scenes from 9th Lagos Book & Art Festival, Nov 9-11, National Theatre, Lagos

* Dr Reuben Abati, Chairman of The Guardian Editorial Board, conducting a MENTORING session with students during the programme MY ENCOUNTER WITH THE BOOK at LABAF 07. Over 600 chuildren from as many as 26 schools from all over Lagos attended the session on the opening day. The Festival eventually recorded over 1,700 students and children attendance in its three-day run. The session was an initiative of CORA with collaboration by Children Care for The Environment, CATE, directed by Ms. Sola Alamutu

* A student discussing AKE: The YEAR OF CHILDHOOD (abridged version for the young ones) (BOOKCRAFT 2007...on DAY 2 of the LABAF 07. The session was moderated by Dr Tony Marinho, Medical Doctor, Poet and Newspaper Columnist and founder of Educare Trust Ibadan. A total of 406 students from colleges attended the session from more than 12 schools

* Founder EDUCARE TRUST, Ibadan, Marinho introducing AKE... to the students. He was moderator of the session PHOTO: MARCEL MBAMALU

*Dr Marinho and Sola Alamutu, ED CATE and coordinator of the Children Section of the LABAF... kicking off the programme. PHOTO: MARCEL MBAMALU

* The Students at the Cartoons and Comics Workshop session conducted by the LC3 team under the direction of Revolution Media led by Sewedo Nupowaku and Ayo Arigbabu

* Sola Alamutu, ED CATE taking the students (plus some of the parents)through a session of the Green Festival, a segment of the Students Section

*Audience during an interractive session between the Children/Students section and the adult section.. on Day 2

* Fatai Rolling Dolar 'jamming' with the Seyi Solagbade and the Blackface during the ARTHOUSE PARTY 92) celebrating the eight NobleMn of the Arts: Fatai Rolling Dollar @ 80; Femi Asekun @ 75; Bruce Onobrakpeya @ 75; Niyi Osundare @ 60; Ihria Enakimoio @ 60; Yemi Ogunbiyi @ 60; Tunde Oloyede @ 60; Sonny Okosuns @ 60... On stage with Fatai is one of the celebrants, Femi Asekun and a veteran dancer/actor, Olu Okekanye and other guests

* The Liberian Boys, a group of Acapella singers in performance for the NobleMen of The Arts

* Another shot of the Liberian Boys

* The SRorchestra in performance conducted by the ElderArtsMan, Steve Rhodes -- who actually donated the multi-million Naira call-fee band to the LABAF 07


Monday, November 05, 2007


Sunday November 5, 2007. Members of the CORA collective stood in front of their secretariat at 95 Bode Thomas Street, Surulere, Lagos. The gathering was an extension of a long meeting that had stretched from 2pm call time to that time – about 8pm. Someone raised the question: how far are we with Cyprian Ekwensi; would the old man make it to the opening of the Book festival? Toyin Akinosho, the secretary General of CORA responded that he had had a recent chat with the wife; and she was not certain the man would make it. One he was ill; two, he was in Enugu and flying him to Lagos was not visible. The members were disappointed at the news, but they understood.
Unknown to us, at time we were deliberating over him, the man famously called the forefather of the City Fiction’ had passed on.
Cyprian Ekwensi died on Sunday November 5, 2007. He was 86 (born September 26, 1921).
The passage of Ekwensi has changed the tenor of the 9th Lagos Book and Art Festival. The edition has thus been dedicated to the memory of the man who documented city life in his works. You can say then that this is a CYPRIAN EKWENSI LAGOS BOOK AND ART FESTIVAL.

(Statement by CORA at the Opening of LABAF 07)

"By the end of the twentieth-century Lagos had become established as one of the world’s pre-eminent fictionalized cities, as with London and Paris by the end of the previous century."

That was international scholar Chris Dunton speaking in September 2005 on the theme ‘Lagos in the Imagination’ at the international workshop organised by CORA as part of the 7th Lagos Book & Art Festival (LABAF).

One book must take the credit for starting that process. It is People of the City (1954) and its author, the legend, Cyprian Ekwensi who passed on, on 4th November, 2007, aged 86 has the undisputed crown of being the father of the Lagos novel, writing other novels and short stories that celebrated the social life of the city over the decades.

Cyprian Ekwensi had agreed to be guest and to read at the Colloquium on Civil War Literature themed ‘Constructing a Nation: 40 Years After the First Shot in Biafra ’ being organised as part of the 9thLABAF holding from Friday 9th and 11th November, 2007. His novel, Divided We Stand had been chosen as one of the texts for the panel discussion during the colloquium. Then, just a week before the Festival, we had signal that the old man had taken ill and been transferred to Enugu for treatment. And then, a couple of days later, the news of his demise.

This is the second time we would fail to ‘stampede’ Pa Ekwensi into an event organised around him or his work. The first was in September 2006 when he could not attend the Highlife Party organised in his honour on his 85th birthday. He took ill a few days to the event.

Beyond the Lagos and the Civil War novels, Cyprian Ekwensi’s significance perhaps finds the deepest etching in his contribution to children and popular literature. Which child grew up from the 1960s to the 1980s and did not pick up an Ekwensi off a bookshop shelf? From The Passport of Mallam Illia through An African Night Entertainment, Juju Rock, The Drummer Boy to Trouble in Form Six, Ekwensi gave to children and adolescents the pride of reading books with the blurb containing the same author’s biography as that on the book read by their parents. And as they matured, they never had to take a course in advanced literature before picking up novels like Jagua Nana, Jagua Nana’s Daughter, The Burning Grass and Beautiful Feathers. It was only Ekwensi that could be profiled in a compendium on Onitsha Market Literature and generate so much debate between two scholars, Ernest Emenyonu and Bernth Lindfors, on the pages of the elite African Literature Today.

Ekwensi’s work went ahead to inspire popular music (such as Orlando Julius’ highlife song, Jagua Nana) and would have, were it not for the intrusion of a sanctimonious government, inspired the first international film based on a Nigerian novel.

It is in recognition of the significance of this writer’s work to the lore of Lagos and the popular imagination of generations of Nigerians, youths and adult alike, that we have decided to dedicate this year’s (the 9th) LABAF to Cyprian Ekwensi. In furtherance of this, the opening Arthouse Party of the fist day of the Festival will be presaged by an EKWENSI OPEN HOUSE in which Mr. Kunle Ajibade, the Executive Director of The News magazine, will deliver a keynote tribute to the late writer and members of the public would discuss their first encounters with his work. Also, an exhibition of the Ekwensi section of LABAF would be opened where discussions, reminiscences and condolence signing would continue for the duration of the Festival. In this regard, a competition amongst Fine Art students within the Lagos environment has been commissioned for the drawing of the portraiture and caricature of the late writer. Emphasis should be on drawings that locate the writer within the ambience of the city life.

CORA believes that Cyprian Ekwensi’s life should be celebrated rather than his death mourned. The events at the 9th LABAF are just to kick off the celebrations.

(As presented at the opening of LABAF 07)
Words can sometimes be so inadequate. Take this headline from the front page of The Guardian of Monday November 5, 2007, for instance: Renowned author, Cyprian Ekwensi, dies at 86.
See how bare, how banal almost, how bereft of emotions, how it fails so woefully in capturing the essence of the man, the breadth of his accomplishments and the sphere of his influence on Nigerian letters.
Cyprian Odiatu Duaka Ekwensi was born in Minna in Northern Nigeria on
September 26, 1921, was educated at Achimota College in the Gold Coast, and at the Chelsea
School of Pharmacy of London University. A pharmacist by training, he gained worldwide fame and acclaim as a novelist, who had an unusual facility for chronicling the angst and malaise of the metropolis even though he also had a finger on the pulse of the pastoral.
Ekwensi’s accomplishment is best appreciated when you realize that he is unarguably the most read Nigerian writer on account of his racy narrative and accessible prose as well as the fact that he remains the most prolific Nigerian novelist. Ekwensi was a man in love with the narrative, not for the stylistic pyrotechnics which have an uncanny way of alienating the reader, but for the racy, heart thumping story of human interaction, of fate and destiny checkmating our best laid plans.
His gift for the simple and uncomplicated prose was both a blessing and a curse. Eldred Jones has taken issues with Ekwensi’s writings accusing the novelist, who famously declared that he wrote a full length novel in 2 weeks while on a cruise ship no less, of not taking pains to hone his writing style, while Bernth Linfords nailed the coffin of Ekwensi’s literary aspirations shut with the tag “An African Popular Novelist.” His novels have also been accused of lacking structure, of being episodic and appearing as no more than mere vignettes, a charge that now elevates Ekwensi’s craft in the light of contemporary works from authors like Helon Habila, David Mitchell and even Stephen Crace who have offered us exquisite novels made up of interlinked narratives held together by no more than a common theme.
While many critics were right in taking umbrage at the “popular” flavor of Ekwensi’s novels, its mass appeal and lack of artifice, they did him great disservice by not taking into account how pioneering he was in moving Nigerian writing into a whole new locale away from ghosts and ghommids (Tutuola), wrestling matches and colonialism (Achebe), the insular and the provincial into a whole modern and cosmopolitan era.
Viewed from that perspective, it is easy to see that Ekwensi is in many ways the father of the “Modern” Nigerian novel and would then by extension be regarded as the literary forebear of writers like Ben Okri whose novel Dangerous Love (or its first incarnation The Landscapes Within) bear the hallmarks of Ekwensi’s influence from novels like People of the City and the Jagua Nana series. Other writer’s whose engagement with the metropolis evinces influences from Ekwensi would be Chris Abani in Graceland and Maik Nwosu in Alpha Song in their exploration of the seedy side of the city as well as night life. But the writer on whose work Ekwensi seems to have stamped the strongest presence may well be Helon Habila, a fact most critics have missed.
I am already exploring this in greater detail in a forthcoming essay, “Parallels and Convergences: Helon Habila’s Waiting for an Angel and Cyprian Ekwensi’s People of the City.” In Helon’s novel, the major character is Lomba and he is a journalist. In Ekwensi’s People of the City, the major character is Sango, a journalist and band leader. Both of them have names made up of two syllables. Lomba lives in a tenement house where a woman entreats him for sex and so does Sango whose young and nubile neighbour want to sleep with him and Ekwensi who was a master of description captures her essence thus: “She could not be more than fourteen, but her breasts were taut and large with ripeness….This was temptation.” Sango’s life and job are imperiled and so are Lomba’s. The two protagonists are estranged from their families. They both pine for an unattainable woman and both live in a sprawling modern metropolis on the cusp of both political and social upheavals.
It is also interesting to note that in the two books, the whiff of politics is strong, palpable and unnerving while the City is a character, huge, hulking and menacing with a gluttonous appetite. In Helon’s book, Lomba’s editor tells him that politics is part of our lives because “The air we breathe is politics.” Those very words sound like an echo of Ekwensi’s words from page 40 of The People of the City where the Councillor tells Dele and Sango that “Politics is life.”
This piece is by no means an exhaustive review or comparative analysis. It is a tribute really to a master story teller, a gifted writer who was at home in different cultures and genres straddling both the pastoral as in “Burning Grass” and the modern as in Jagua Nana’s Daughter with the ease of a maestro and despite his stature still found it easy to stoop low to accommodate the taste of the young in novellas like Drummer Boy, An African Nights Entertainment and The Passport of Mallam Ilia
His passing at the age of 86 in a country where the life expectancy is 49 is cause for celebration rather than mourning, but the pity of his death is the fact that Ekwensi died without a proper rehabilitation, one that was long due and which is in fact necessary in order to properly situate his place, importance and influence in and on modern Nigerian literature.

Brief tribute by DEJI TOYE

Anybody who ever read anything asd a child or ever picked up a book off a bookshop shelf must have picked up an Ekwensi. This will be a tribute to the universality of his theme and style which unifies both old and young, expert and rookies. For me, i cant forget books like Juju Rock, An African Night Entertainment, The Drummer Bor, Trouble in form Six, The Passport of Mallam Illia (I laways imagined that train fight scene in a film) etc. Growing up, I read Jagua Nana's Daughter, then Jagua Nana itself. of all of these, only jagua Nana did I read as a recommended text in a university cause.

Ekwensi defined the literature of my childhood along with Kola Onadipe of such books as Sugar Girl, Sweet mother, Pot of Gold, Tha Boy Slave and Return of Shetimma.


I am deeply saddened by this news of the death of the pioneer Nigerian novelist Cyprian Ekwensi this week. He was 86. Ekwensi, the author of arguably the earliest major novel in Nigeria (People of the City, 1954) and other vastly popular novels--Passport of Mallam Illya, African Night's Entertainment, Lokotown, Jagua Nana, The Drummer Boy, etc--that, as secondary students in Nigeria in the 1980s, captured, intrigued, and liberated our fertile imaginations and youthful fantasies. His simple, uncomplicated plots, while a subject of longstanding critique by literary scholars, was the very reason we read, and re-read his incomparably entertaining works. He was the people's novelist!
Ekwensi was scheduled to participate in the key event of the Lagos Book Arts Festival (which begins this week), by reading from his novel on the Biafran War, Divided We Stand published in 1980. The CORA-organized Festival and its colloquium, Constructing the Nation: Stories Out of Biafra, will now serve as a memorial to a man who used his unpretentious yet prodigious fictive imagination to instill in me and a zillion others the love for the novel and for literature. Rest, Old Man; travel safely.

oCourtesy Chika-okeke-agulu.blogspot.com

(Excerpted from kalu Uduma’s news report in The Guardian Monday Nov. 5, 2007, announcing Ekwensi’s passage)
Cyprian Odiatu Duaka Ekwensi was born at Minna in Northern Nigeria on September 26, 1921. He later lived in Onitsha in the Eastern area. He was educated at Achimota College in the Gold Coast, and at the Chelsea School of Pharmacy of London University. He lectured in pharmacy at Lagos and was employed as a pharmacist by the Nigerian Medical Corporation.
He married Eunice Anyiwo, and they had five children.
After favorable reception of his early writing, he joined the Nigerian Ministry for Information and had risen to be the director of that agency by the time of the first military coup in 1966. After the continuing disturbances in the Western and Northern regions in the summer of 1966, Ekwensi gave up his position and relocated his family to Enugu. He became chair of the Bureau for External Publicity in Biafra and an adviser to the head of state, Lt.-Col. Chukwemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu.
Ekwensi began his writing career as a pamphleteer, and this perhaps explains the episodic nature of his novels. This tendency is well illustrated by People of the City (1954), in which Ekwensi gave a vibrant portrait of life in a West African city. It was the first major novel to be published by a Nigerian. Two novellas for children appeared in 1960; both The Drummer Boy and The Passport of Mallam Ilia were exercises in blending traditional themes with undisguised romanticism.
His most widely read novel, Jagua Nana, appeared in 1961. It was a return to the locale of People of the City but boasted a much more cohesive plot centered on the character of Jagua, a courtesan who had a love for the expensive. Even her name was a corruption of the expensive English auto. Her life personalised the conflict between the old traditional and modern urban Africa. Ekwensi published a sequel in 1987 titled Jagua Nana's Daughter.
Burning Grass (1961) is basically a collection of vignettes concerning a Fulani family. Its major contribution is the insight it presents into the life of this pastoral people. Ekwensi based the novel and the characters on a real family with whom he had previously lived. Between 1961 and 1966 Ekwensi published at least one major work every year. The most important of these were the novels, Beautiful Feathers (1963) and Iska (1966), and two collections of short stories, Rainmaker (1965) and Lokotown (1966). He continued to publish beyond the 1960s, and among his later works are the novel Divided We Stand (1980), the novella Motherless Baby (1980), and The Restless City and Christmas Gold (1975), Behind the Convent Wall (1987), and Gone to Mecca (1991).
Ekwensi also published a number of works for children. Under the name C. O. D. Ekwensi, he released Ikolo the Wrestler and Other Ibo Tales (1947) and The Leopard's Claw (1950). In the 1960s, he wrote An African Night's Entertainment (1962), The Great Elephant-Bird (1965), and Trouble in Form Six (1966).
Ekwensi's later works for children include Coal Camp Boy (1971), Samankwe in the Strange Forest (1973), Samankwe and the Highway Robbers (1975), Masquerade Time! (1992), and King Forever! (1992).
In recognition of his skills as a writer, Ekwensi was awarded the Dag Hammarskjold International Prize for Literary Merit in 1969.
Ekwensi, a one-time Commissioner for Information in the old Anambra State, is survived by children and grand children.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Rolling Dollar, Asekun, Onobrakpeya, Oloyede, Ogunbiyi to be honoured at LABAF 07

At LABAF '07, Grand Reception For The Big 5
By Gregory Austin-Nwakunor
(As published in The Guardian on Sunday 4/11/07)

THE ninth Lagos Book and Art Festival begins Friday November 9 and will end 11th at the National Theatre, Lagos. Steve Rhodes, the grand arts persona, has offered his incredibly talent-filled S.R Orchestra to perform at the Grand Arthouse Reception, which is in the fourth year.

The reception is held to mark the collective birthdays of significant artists who have been earlier honoured in the year at the Elders Forum/ GreatHighlife Party, which Rhodes, 81, himself chairs.

This year's honorees include Fatai Rolling Dollar, who turned 80; Chief Femi Asekun, who turned 75; Bruce Onobrakpeya, who turned 75; as well as Dr Yemi Ogunbiyi and Chief Tunde Oloyede, who turned 60. The Steve Rhodes Orchestra is an 18-man band, which delivers a big fat sound. It breaks down the structure of some of the most significant urban social music in Nigeria and renders them in new, profoundly articulate ways.

Bruce Onobrakpeya

THE Urhobo-born printmaker, painter and sculptor, belongs to the first generation of contemporary artists graduating from the Nigerian College of Arts, Science and Technology (NCAST, presently known as Ahmadu Bello University).

Onobrakpeya's training was based on the Western illusionistic tradition of representational ar; however, many of his works do not reflect his training in Western aesthetics. Instead, they portray stylistic elements and compositions that mirror traditional African figural sculpture and decorative arts.

Regarded as Nigeria's best-documented artist, He needs very little introduction in art circles both within and outside the country; Onobrakpeya has devoted his life to his work and has played a significant role in the renaissance that has swept through the country's contemporary art scene.

Over the years, Onobrakpeya's Agbarha-Otor artistic outfit, with in-built chalets, successfully hosted artists to yearly communions, called the Harmattan Workshops.

Listed in International Who is Who in Art and Antique, Onobrakpeya received an honourary D. Litt. from the University of Ibadan in 1989 and on June 6, 2000, he was honoured with the Fellowship of the Society of Nigerian Artists. He had previously, received Pope John Paul II award for painting the life of Saint Paul, the Fellowship of Asele Institute award, the Sadam Hussein award, the Solidra Circle award, and Fulbright Exchange Scholar award.

Femi Asekun

The veteran broadcaster and one of the pioneer staff of NTA 10, is one stickler to perfection.

As a pioneer staff of NTA, he and some others like him, learnt everything about television, including the engineering side because there was no point standing in front of the camera doing whatever you had to do and not knowing the nuances of the job itself. This made him a rounded broadcaster.

His zest for arts and music is commendable, and at the monthly Great Highlife Party, you will see him conducting affairs.

Asekun had, at a young age, performed in Norway, England and France, and has indeed, remained in practice even in his septuagenarian age.

His involvement with the arts started from home. His father was a very good organist and there was a small organ in the house. Because he was a reverend gentleman, most times in the evenings when he wanted to relax, he would just go into the church and play; and usually, he used to take Femi along. That made him feel interested in music. He was the one who first started teaching him music. Then when he became too busy and didn't have time to continue, he arranged for him to be going for piano lessons with Professor Akin Euba's father.

This aroused his interest in the arts. Then, when he got to CMS Grammar School, music was taught as a subject as well and there was a dramatic society, we were taught fine arts at school. So these really made him to be alive to this other side of life. At CMS Grammar School, he was a member of the school's quartet, JEPA Quartet - JEPA - J for Jadesimi; E for Euba, P for Peters, and A for Asekun - that took part in the 1948 festival and won a silver medal for choral singing.

He recollects: "In 1956 or 1957, during the summer months, about three months holiday from the university, most people go out to work and earn extra money to buy one or two things that they might use. Through the Scottish Union of Students that time, I got a job in Norway, at a hotel in a little town called Hama. I played for two months at the hotel's nightclub and that was very good. My group was called Femi's Trio + 1. It was a quartet. Instead of calling it Femi's Quartet, we called it Femi's Trio + 1. One of the guys played piano, a bass player, I, on drums and a tenor and a trombone player."

Yemi Ogunbiyi

He is a literary icon, a great administrator and academic. But the highpoint of his journalistic and administrative career was perhaps his stint as Managing Director of the Daily Times Newspaper.

He gave the Daily Times a new sense of direction and lease of life. He infused new blood into its editorial content and made it readable again to its former customers and admirers. This, he was able to accomplish with the good sense of management, part of which was the ability to motivate people. Unfortunately, there was no continuity, as he did not hold the job for too long.

His Tanus Communications has remained a leader in Public Relations and corporate management services.

Ogunbiyi was part of the literary activist movement of the 70s through the 80s, during which a great body of literature, as well as performances were produced. This streak he took to The Guardian when he joined the newspaper organisation from his teaching up of the University of Ife. He thus coordinated the literary services of The Guardian, which yielded the famous books, Perspectives in Nigerian Literature volumes 1 and II. He also edited what has been referred to as the bible of Theatre studies in Nigeria, Drama and Theatre in Nigeria, which is currently undergoing reproduction due to popular demand.

Tunde Oloyede

He has made positive impact on film production in Nigeria. But perhaps it all began from his television production days at the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) where he proved his worth in the production of some of the major programmes.

He brought creativity and imagination to bear on the production of Village Headmaster, one of the biggest soap operas on Nigerian television, when he took over from Sanya Dosumu, who is now a traditional ruler.

As chairman of the Steering Committee of the Motion Picture Council of Nigeria (MOPICON), he was instrumental in designing a blueprint to regulate professional practice in the country's motion picture sector.

He also had a crack at the chairmanship of the Independent Television Producers Association of Nigeria (ITPAN), a formidable outfit, which Steve Rhodes first groomed as founding president. His wife is Bimbo Oloyede, a veteran broadcaster whose face is a delight to fervent viewers of Channels Television.

Fatai Rolling Dollar

He represents early highlife - from the exploits of Tunde King in the 1930s through to Ambrose Campbell in the 1940s and Julius Araba in the 50s.

Fatai Rolling Dollar was one of the leading musicians of the early generation of highlife exponents, having had considerable apprenticeship from his association with Julius Araba's Afro -skiffle group. When he struck out on his own in the fifties, he immediately became popular.

He had the ability to compose, from the experience acquired from early highlife and juju musicians who considered moral rectitude, industry, social commentary and the philosophy of life more important than praise singing.

Rolling Dollar refused to associate with this trend and collapsed his previously big band into a small group of four because his sidemen had left him in disapproval for greener pastures. They had gone to join the new commercial bands, which were making the money.

Rolling Dollar became impoverished because his music appealed only to a few people. He sang all the songs, played the lead guitar, which took endless solos after it had provided accompaniment, and played the role of the rhythm guitar. He then switched over to the conga drums where he played various rhythmic patterns to hold a dance floor community down for long periods of time. Rolling Dollar carried on with three other musicians where one of them played bass guitar, another played cleave and other percussion instruments and the fourth doubled on percussion and vocals to help harmonise tunes and establish counterpointal dueting with Rolling Dollar on a number of songs.

Gists on the 9TH LAGOS BOOK &ART FESTIVAL 2007

By Toyin Akinosho


Festival Week Opens With Film Screenings

THE preface events leading to the 9th annual Lagos Book and Art Festival (LABAF) opened at the National Theatre last Friday with the African World Documentary Film Week. Among the films on view are Wazobia, an adaptation of Tess Onwueme's play of the same title, directed by Awam Amkpa (Nigeria, USA); As Old As My Tongue by Andy Jones (Tanzania, United Kingdom); Living with Slim: Kids Talk about HIV/AIDs by Sam Kauffman (Uganda, USA); Raadis: In search of... by Emmanuel Mutsune (Canada, Kenya); The Professor by Jason Price (Liberia, USA). There is Sisters of Selma by Candomble y Fredrique Zepter (Brazil) among others. The event, a collaboration between the Committee For Relevant Art, organisers of the LABAF, the University of Missouri, The National Theatre and the West African Documentary Film Forum runs from November 2 to 11. The second Semi Annual Workshop For Book Editors opens at the Federal Palace Hotel on Tuesday, November 6 and runs till Thursday, November 8. The workshop parades a top-notch faculty, with Professor Dan Izevbaye teaching participants how to edit works of prose fiction and Professor Festus Adesanoye lecturing on scholarly publishing. The workshop is facilitated by Book Builders Editions Africa, headed by Chris Bankole. Gbenro Adegbola, Managing Director of the publishing house, Evans, will give a talk on publishing for primary and secondary schools. Before he went to Evans, Adegbola was co-founder of the hugely successful publishing firm Bookcraft. The week will be rounded off with the Book and Art Festival, which opens on Friday, November 9 and lasts till Sunday, November 11.

Teenagers Ready To Take On Soyinka

SEYI Akogun, Leke Olaleye, Oruomen Igbokwe and Isaac Onoh, all in their mid teens, have been reading the abridged version of Wole Soyinka's Ake: The Years Of Childhood, and they are ready to interrogate the text. "My girl has been saying: 'I am reading this book with a dictionary by my side..why is he (the author) employing such tough words?', says Chi Igbokwe, a facilities engineer whose 13 year old daughter, Oruomen is one of the participants. Isaac Onoh, the 12 year son of Ezinne Onoh and her accountant husband, Okoroji, is travelling all the way from Elyon College in Ogun State for the conversation. Teenagers Trace Soyinka's Footsteps is a highlight of the youth programme of the Book and Art Festival and it is slated for 10am on Saturday, November 10 at the exhibition hall of the National Theatre. The event is organised by Children and The Environment (CATE) , Bookcraft (publishers of the Book) and the Committee for Relevant Art, host of the festival.

Abati, 'Things Fall Apart', To Kick Off Book and Art Festival

A VERY short drama sketch of a passage in Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart by the National Troupe will signal the start of the ninth Lagos Book and Art Festival, at the National Theatre on Friday, November 9, 2007. The skit is the groundbreaking ceremony for the series of events planned worldwide, for the 50th anniversary of the classic novel, in 2008. Afterwards, the columnist Reuben Abati will give a motivational speech: The Book In My Life, to 1000s of children and adults at the event. The Festival colloquium, Constructing A Nation: Stories Out Of Biafra, starts at 12noon on November 9. It will feature reviews, readings and conversations around five books based on the war, including Cyprian Ekwensi's Divided We Stand, Dulue Mbachu's War Games, Chimamanda Adichie's Half Of A Yellow Sun, Chukuemeka Ike's Sunset At Dawn, Eddie Iroh's Toads Of War, Ken Saro Wiwa's On A Darkling Plain and Ekwensi, perhaps the most widely read Nigerian author in Nigeria will read excerpts from Divided We Stand, a story of love in a time of war. Professor Ike will read excerpts form Sunset At Dawn. The National Troupe will perform a passage in Divided We Stand. Crown Troupe will perform from skits from two other works of their choice. A short excerpt from Obi Iwuanyanwu's 40 years of Civil War Literature will be read before the discussion. Three of the authors have confirmed their participation. Dr Chidi Amuta will moderate the proceedings. Shiyan Oyeweso, professor of history who convened a symposium on civil war literature a few years ago, is on the panel, so is CORA's Deji Toye and Uzor Maxim Uzoatu.

...MENDing The Damage after the Civil War Chat..

THE symposium on the emerging literature of the Niger Delta: MENDing The Damage: How Literature Illuminates The Niger Delta Crisis, originally scheduled for Saturday, November 10, the second day of the Book and Art Festival, will now take place at 3pm on November 9, that is immediately after the colloquium. It will take the place of the international dialogue between William Mervin Gumede, author of Thabo Mbeki and The Battle For The Soul of The ANC and Dare Babarinsa, author of House Of War. "The non resolution of the issues that led to the civil war has partly led to the mayhem in the Delta today", says CORA spokesman, Ayo Arigbabu. "So the two talkshops are a good fit". MENDing The Damage features readings, reviews and discussions around Ken Wiwa's In The Shadow Of A Saint, Ahmed Yerima's Hard Ground, Ike Okonta and Oronto Douglas' Where Vultures Feast, and Kaine Agary's Yellow Yellow.

Compiled by staff of Festac News Press Agency

femag@hotmail.com, sundayreports@yahoo.com

Friday, November 02, 2007


CAPTION: Executive Director, children Care for the Environment, CARE and coordinator of the LABAF Children Section, Sola Alamutu directing the children with the LABAF06 Children Special Guest and Mentor, the actor Richard Mofe-Damijo.

CAPTION: Richard Mofe Damijo (left) and ElderArtsMan, Steve Rhodes with the children at the last feast

CAPTION: At last year's feast for the young ones... the actor, Richard Mofe Damijo (towering above all); the Story Teller and Children mentor, Noma Sodipo (right), and the environmental activist for the young, Sola Alamutu (left) with the children

Children Takes on Soyinka's AKE, Discuss NLNG PRIZE winning Books at the
9th Lagos Book & Art festival

The 9th Lagos Book & Art Festival organized annually by Commitee For Relevant Art (CORA) to mark the National Creativity Day, will take place from 9th – 11th of November 2007 at the National Theatre, Iganmu Lagos.
This year, the children’s programme organized in collaboration with Children And The Environment (CATE) will feature four events.

According to Sola Alamutu, E.D. of CATE, and Co-ordinator of the Children’s section of the Festival, ‘Over 40 Public and Private schools in Lagos State have been invited to the event which kicks off on Friday 9th of November with Dr. Reuben Abati as the Chief Motivator of the children with an address entitled, “My Encounter With The Book” at 9am’.

“Talking Books” at 10 a.m. will feature excerpts of 4 environmental books namely; “Tell It To Mr. President” by Tony Marinho, “Adaba & Other Stories” by Wale Okediran, “Village Girl in Town” by Yemisi Egunjobi, and “Poems on the Environment” by Toun Mohammed to be read and discussed by the authors with Ropo Ewenla and ‘Deleke Adeyemi as moderators. Poetry recitals and a question and answer section follow this. The day ends with a Festival Tour’.

Alamutu further said ‘On Saturday 10th of November by 10am, ten children between the ages of 13 and 17 yrs will hold a roundtable discussion around “AKE – The Childhood Years” by Wole Soyinka. Another roundtable discussion of the 3 shortlisted books for the NLNG Prize for Children’s Literature, “Sam & The Wallet” by Uche Peter Umez; “My Cousin Sammy” by Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo; “Readers’ Theatre” by Mabel Segun to be moderated by 11yr old Omolola Amira for Children ages 8-15yrs takes place at 11am.

Nike Adesuyi, assistant co-ordinator added that ‘The Green Festival 2 workshops will start by 1pm and is open to children ages 3 to 17yrs with “Tell Tales” with Ropo Ewenla & Tope Ogun, “Paint Pictures” with Edosa Oguigo & Rosalie Modder, “Click Cameras” with Chydy Njere & Ife Omotayo, “Perform Poems” with Nike Adesuyi & ‘Deleke Adeyemi, “Tie Dye”, “Make Mats’ and “Hand Print” with Wale Asubiojo & Partners and Create Crafts with Tolu Okieimen (specially for 5yrs & under)

The Festival rounds-up on Sunday 11th November by 1pm, with a ‘Creativity Talk’ by Biodun Omolayo of ‘Young-At-Art and a public presentation and exhibition of the Creative Workshops by the children at 1:30pm. Portrait Paintings by C.A.V.E Atelier ends the festival.

Registration is on and interested participants should please call:
Aunty Sola Alamutu - 0802 308 7725, 0702 819 1848
Aunty Nike Adesuyi - 0802 315 7882, 01 – 8726301
Folayemi Akinwole - 0808 2090 211



The Committee For Relevant Art (CORA) is working, in
partnership with Bookbuilders Limited in Ibadan, on a
workshop for Book Editors. The event will run from Nov
6 to 8, 2007, at the Federal Palace Hotel in Lagos.

The workshop is the second attempt by CORA to engage
in capacity building for the Book industry.
The idea of the workshop is to develop a generation of
fully trained book editors who are envisaged to
energize the book industry with the editorial skills
that are so lacking in current literary and scholarly

In hardly any of the few operating publishing houses
is there a book editor of redoubtable skill and
renown. "Indeed, so negligible is the impact of
editors on the few books that are published that
nobody makes the ordinary connection between editing
and the quality of a published book", according to the
CORA proposal.

Mrs Chris Bankole, the key facilitator, and Mrs
Sherifat Oladokun, both of Book Builders Limited, a
highly regarded firm of book editors, will give
closed-session lectures, seminars, and tutorial-style
meetings. Participants will have the opportunity to
engage in practical demonstration of how a book is
worked on. They will learn about the role of the
editor in relation to the publisher, agent, and
author, and the differences between a newspaper editor
and a book editor. There will be illuminating
conversations on a range of topics including general
overview of editorial process (using layouts of
various books, journals, scholarly books, novels,
etc.), Initial assessment of a book, Copy Editing,
Substantive editing, science editing, Proofreading,
Indexing, Cover design, Grammar and usage, clich├ęs,
Nigerian malapropisms. It will also look at challenges
in editing creative writers; both of children and
adult fiction, as well as Scholarly/ tertiary
publishing / research vs university, textbooks.
Participants, who will pay 10,000 naira for three days
(which covers tuition, course materials, tea/snacks,
lunch, certificate and group photograph) will be
taught Footnote / reference styles, publications of
Newsletters / flyers / brochures as well as how to
handle tables / diagrams / maps etc.

"The experience is not substitute for a sustained
academic program in publishing", the proposal reads.
But we hope that participants will gain a lot from
this workshop to develop career interest in book
publishing. The organizers look forward to hearing
from such large (mostly erstwhile multinational)
publishers such as McMillan, Longmans, Evans, as well
as homegrown, midsized companies including Spectrum,
Africana, 4th Dimension, Litramed. The workshop will
be particularly useful for emerging companies like
Farafina, New Gong, Cassava Republic, Book Kraft, and
Kraft Books. Perhaps the major beneficiary from this
sort of learning would be people between ages 22-40,
preferably university graduates or those in the final
semester of their bachelor programs, with demonstrable
interest in reading and writing.
Staffers of reputable publishing firms should only
need to present a letter from their employer
authenticating their status. Completed application
package will include a letter of application, and a
statement of purpose. For those who are not working in
a publishing house, there is, required, a letter of
recommendation from academic mentors or teachers
optional(). Contacts: CORA Secretariat: 95 Bode
Thomas, Surulere, Lagos.
Contact: cora2stamp@yahoo.co.uk, Ayo Arigbabu:
arigbs@gmail.com), Jumoke Verissimo,
jumokeverissimo@yahoo.com); Juwon Bukola Phillips
(naijajuwon@yahoo.ca) and Wale Omotoye,

oDownload participation form at: www.coragroup.org)

Toyin Akinosho
Secretary General



Theme: Literacy As Democracy Dividend

DATE: NOVEMBER 9-11, 2007




8am: Exhibition opens

9am: Children Programme Opens

9am: Cartoon and Comic carnival Opens


Opening Reception - 50 Years of Things Fall Apart

* Ground-breaking prelude to the series of worldwide events starting January 2008. (Talks, Dramatisations, Excepts Reading etc)

12 noon: COLLOQIUM

Theme: Constructing a Nation: 40 Years after the

First shot in Biafra.

Reviews, Readings and discussions of Civil War

Literature; Novels, Drama and Non Fiction Works


_ Cyprian Ekwensi's Divided We Stand

_ Chukwuemeka Ike's Sunset At Dawn

_ Chimamanda Adichie's Half Of A Yellow Sun

_ Dulue Mbachu's War Games

_ Benjamin Adekunle's The Nigeria - Biafra War Letters - A
Soldier's Story (Vol. 1)

_ Eddie Iroh's Toads Of War; and

_ Rasheed Gbadamosi's Echoes From The Lagoon


Theme: MENDing the damage: Literature and the Niger
Delta Crisis

A panel discussion on Literatures borne out of the Niger Delta crisis

Discussants include:

_ Oronto Douglas (Where Vultures Feast)

_ Ken Wiwa (In The Shadow Of A Saint)

_ Ahmed Yerima (Hard Ground)

¥ Kaine Agary (Yellow Yellow)

* SPECIAL: Presentation of DAGGA TOLAR's book in honour of Ken
* Saro-Wiwa and the Niger Delta Struggle



8am: Exhibition opens

9am: Children Programme continues

9am: Cartoon and Comic carnival Continues


Newly published abridged version of Wole Soyinka's
Ake - Years of Childhood

The following youngsters discuss Literature of Childhood:

_ Oruomen Igbokwe (13)

_ Leke Olaleye (15)

_ Isaac Onoh (14)

_ Seyi Akogun (14)


Music, Wine and Dance for:

_ Fatai Rolling Dollar at 80

_ Femi Asekun at 75

* Bruce Onobrakpeya at 75

_ Tunde Oloyede at 60

_ Yemi Ogunbiyi at 60.



¥ Seyi Solagbade,

¥ Adunni Nefretiti


Theme: Writing In - Tales from the Diaspora (THE EMERGING Nigerian literature outside the borders of Nigeria).

Keynote by Akin Adesokan (Associate Professor, Indiana State University, USA)

Features discussions of:

_ Segun Afolabi"s Caine award winning short story 'Monday

_ Biyi Bandele's The Street

_ Chimamanda Adichie's 'The Thing Around Your Neck'

_ Diana Evans' 26A

_ Helen Oyeyemi's Icarus Girl; and

_ Diran Adebayo's Some Kind of Black


10am: Exhibition opens

10am: Children Programme continues

10am: Cartoon and Comic carnival Continues


Nigeria & The Age of The Mega-Shows

A panel of Visual Artists and Art Historians discuss possibility of Nigeria's own Biennale

* Moderating: Chuka Nnabuife
* Remarks: Arne Schneider, Director Goethe Institut, Lagos
* Programme is courtesy GOETHE INSTITUT LAGOS


Topic: The Myth and Realities Of A Golden Age of Culture Production

Was the era of the 'Mbari generation' the golden age of culture production in Nigeria? Was more happening then than now - the 'CNN generation'?

The following participants in the work of culture production and promotion across generations of Nigerian art discuss the issues:

_ Segun Olusola

_ Segun Bucknor

_ Aderemi Adegbite

_ Andy Akhigbe

_ Segun Adefila

_ Tosyn Bucknor

_ McPhilips Nwachukwu