Veronique Tadjo, Professor Abdulrazak Gurnah, Lola Shoneyin and Yemi Odubiyi at the event

Veronique Tadjo, Professor Abdulrazak Gurnah, Lola Shoneyin and Yemi Odubiyi at the event

Nigeria’s leading financial institution, Sterling Bank Plc, said it is committed to supporting the annual Ake Books and Arts Festival because it sees Nigeria as part of a larger world and believes that Nigeria’s ultimate competitiveness lies in its energy.

The Executive Director at Sterling, Yemi Odubiyi, who disclosed this over the weekend in a goodwill message at the opening of the 10th edition of the Ake Books and Arts Festival said Nigeria could become a leader in the world and its creative people as part of its competitiveness.

Odubiyi further said: “Nigeria enjoys a comparative advantage in the arts and culture domain, and Sterling, being focused on promoting the development of human capital and improving national competitiveness, is thrilled to have been a part of the festival in the past six years and plans to continue to do so.”

Founder and Director of Ake Books and Arts Festival, Lola Shoneyin, said: “I’m often amused when people say they can’t believe how long we’ve been doing this. I believe it has been 10 years. It has been 10 years of bringing brainwaves to life, 10 years of learning, 10 years of celebrating the incredible work that so many of you have done and are still doing and 10 years of making lifelong friends.”

She said ‘Homecoming’ was chosen as the theme of this year’s festival because, “We were going back to Abeokuta where it all began, and it was time to reconnect with our ancestral roots. The main reason ‘Homecoming’ was so perfect is that we couldn’t wait to have you back at Ake after the COVID-19 pandemic.”

She said that after two years of lockdown and online festivals, the festival was back again as participants could now mingle, catch up on the news and strengthen their friendships. She added that this moment and feeling were what had kept them going.

The Founder said the priority has always been to ensure that guests feel at home since the very first edition of the Ake Festival.

Consequently, during this year’s edition of Ake Review, guests were asked to express what ‘Home’ means to them, and the typical responses were: A place of love; friendship and a sense of belonging, she said.

Shoneyin thanked the winner of the 2021 Nobel Prize for Literature, Professor Abdulrazaq Gurnah and his wife, Professor Denise Gurnah for honouring the invitation to attend the festival in person. She also thanked the headliner of this year’s festival, Professor Veronique Tadjo, for finding time to be a part of the festival.

Other highlights of this year’s festival include the hosting of Directors of the Global Association of Literary Festivals while many of the panel sessions explore different aspects of the theme.

Some of the sessions focused on why home exerts a pull on everyone, stirs everyone’s creative impulses, influences everyone’s creative expressions, evokes profound sentiments, and shapes the perception of the outside world.

Others explored the impact of conflict, capitalism, and climate disasters and what it means to be displaced, live away from home and, of course, return.

The festival also featured book discussions on the idea of a home and how for some people, the home might not be a place of safety, but a place of violence, among others.

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