Nigeriaa vielä - mustan naisrunoilijan edesottamukset
Toinen Book & Art -festivaalia koskeva juttu nuorten toimittajien ja kirjailijoiden yhdistyksen Universal Journalista:
CORA: Opening Ceremony
By Ayanda Abeke
Few years ago, two vibrant gentlemen, who were also arts enthusiasts and cultural activists, came together with passion and created a platform whereby concerned individuals met intermittently to discuss issues hindering the development of arts and culture in Nigeria. They met under the umbrella of the Committee for Relevant Art (CORA). Since its inception, the two founders of this reliable organization have remained upright, applying passion to even the tedious tasks that resulted. When one’s passion tilts toward a specific aim, it is like having an enormous crucifix hung on one’s shoulder, which must be carried accordingly.
The Annual Lagos Book and Art Festival, was declared open on Friday, September 15th by the formal chairman of NIDB, Rasheed Gadamosi, who delivered his keynote address at the National Museum Courtyard, Onikan. This International event is one of the award winning organisation’ s numerous interesting and educative events scheduled through the year. LABAF, to use the acronym of the festival, usually draws participants and audiences from all over the world. Reading workshops for teenagers, panel discussions on the contents of selected books, book sales and exhibitions, art and craft sales and exhibitions, are the main focus of the festival.
Almost immediately, after the keynote address and the opening declaration of the festival, different activities commenced. Seyi Sholagbade and his Black Face Band enlivened the festival ground atmosphere with his exciting afro-beat music. Despite the uncontrolled drizzling of rain, children enjoyed themselves with Anty Noma’s “story time” section, a special children programme from the Lighthouse School; and there were bead-making/ jewelry workshops with Peju Layiwola from the WYART Foundation.
The Panel’s Discussion on Content of the Selected Books remained the most interesting segment to the literati section, with journalists and writers at the opening ceremony. This year’s selected books and panelists were: Crossroads by Peju Alatise; Splendid by Mobolaji Adenubi; No Sense of Limits by Araceli Aipoh and Icarus Girl by Helen Oyeyemi. Deji Toye, a writer and literary activist moderated this segment in the absence of Omowunmi Segun, the supposed moderator. Panels consisted of authors of the selected books and themes overflowed: What Women Write: (The Female Narrative Voice in Nigeria Fiction) was a really complex one.
Well, everybody had her own view, Peju Alatise, author of Orita Meta (The Crossroads) was of the opinion that whatever men can do, woman can do it better and gender should not be a determiner of events. Whilst expounding on this, she mentioned that her advocacy of women started right with her primary school days. Araceli Aipoh, the Filipino woman who wrote No Sense of Limits, started her view that she wrote what suited her, although from a woman’s point of view. Furthermore, she buttressed her points with poetically rendered clauses:
I write what I like,
I also write about what I hate;
I write what I know,
I also write about what I do not know;
I write about existence,
I also write about death;
I write about places,
I also write about money;
But fantasy she detested vehemently. And her reaction against fairy-tales and fantasy was expanded upon by Mobolaji Adenubi who categorized Icarus Girl, 26a, Famished Roads and Harry potter as stories that dealt with the unconsciousness of human endeavours. This she broadened with vivid explanations.
Afterwards, the moderator, who navigated the panelists with utmost wisdom, declared the mic open. The majority of the audience, which consisted of renowned and aspiring writers, journalists, literati and arts lovers, admitted that female writers do better writing for their gender than writing for their counter gender, vis-à-vis male writers. Odia Ofeimum suggested: if men refused to write, women were pleased take over the rein.
Rita Dahl, the Finnish poetess and journalist rounded the discussion segment up with a sonorously rendered poem, in her mother tongue, whilst Jumoke Verissimo recited the English translation of the poem.