Ake Book Festival Returns to Lagos for its 11th Edition

  • Promises a Spectacular Celebration of African Literature and Culture

The Ake Arts and Book Festival returns to Lagos from November 22nd to 25th, 2023. This year’s festival promises to be a vibrant celebration of African literature and culture, showcasing the rich diversity and talent within the continent.


The festival, scheduled at the Bon Hotel Ikeja residence, offers attendees the utmost convenience, especially those traveling from outside the country. Located in close proximity to the airport, it provides a sense of security and ease for all visitors.


During a press conference held at their Ikeja office, Lola Shoneyin, a renowned Nigerian writer and the Festival Director unveiled an exciting lineup of events. With a jam-packed schedule of 28 different events. Attendees can look forward to captivating book chats, thought-provoking panel discussions, thrilling film screenings, and popular palm wine and poetry nights.


This year’s theme, “Blood Ties,” delves into the concept of family and the complexities that lie within. Shoneyin expressed her astonishment at the sheer volume of creative works submitted, highlighting the raw portrayal of the challenges and toxicities that can exist within families. The festival aims to explore the depths of these blood ties, revealing that family isn’t always what it seems and water, sometimes is
thicker than blood.


She said, “Blood ties are looking at family, the concept of family, and the complexities of family. So this year, Ake reviewed our publications, we told people to send a reflection of poetry, or nonfiction work around the theme of blood ties, and I can tell you that I was shocked by the number of creative works that were submitted that depicted the toxicity and the heart of the real challenges that people often find within families. We talk about blood ties and family which is not always what it seems.

 Sometimes it can be very difficult. Sometimes water is thicker than blood. Some of the stories that we are going to be looking at and some of the books will have a focus on blood ties. Some of them are completely engaging with the theme of family and of course, some of them are not we’re not looking for every single book to be about that but a decent handful. It talks about the best things about family and the scariest things about family and ties.”

Other high points of the event is a music concert with BANTU band playing some of the Afrobeat classics. And we have some receptions as well. So one of the receptions is a publishing event, special for women in publishing. And this is sponsored by an organisation in the UAE called ‘Publish her’.

“We are also doing the Africa connect reception where African writers especially the Nigerians will be able to meet some of the International Festival directors. We also are doing something called the great African book quiz, which everybody will be able to participate in. We have a wonderful selection of books that have been donated to us by ‘One World Publishers in the UK. So there will be lots of book prizes for the winners of that competition,” she noted.


To spice up the festival, the organisers are introducing new initiatives, “We introduced a new initiative this year called The Festival Directors Fellowship. After Ake Festival hosted the Global Association of Literary Festivals Conference last year. One of the ideas that came out of it was how wonderful it would be if festival directors could visit other festivals around the world. And I am delighted to say that we have six incredible festival directors who will be joining us this year.


“The other thing that we introduced this year is The Africa Rights Forum (TARF). The idea behind this is that in my travels around the world, especially as a bookseller and as a publisher, it has come to my attention that there are so many important streams of income that Nigerians and African publishers are not pursuing. The African Rights Forum is committed to providing training to upskilling anyone who has been invited to collaborate and join us in gaining the necessary skills to be able to participate in the international book, and trade marketplaces of the world and to make this happen, what I decided to do was to bring in some experts, so some of our facilitators for the two-day conference are Emma Shurtleff, who is coming from England. Lucy Campos is coming from France. Pierre Astra is coming from France, and Stephanie Stryker will be coming in from the US. These individuals are all agents and editors.


“They’re coming to give a two-day training at the conference and support the attendees and get them right into the nitty gritty of what this work is. But apart from that, it’s important to also announce that we have commenced the partnership with the UNDP and the Nigerian Jubilee fellows. And this means we are going to be training in the first instance 21 individuals in the art of agenting and editing.”

With its diverse range of literary offerings, the Ake Book Festival partnered with Sterling Bank and Laminate in curating the extravaganza cultural event which would ignite meaningful conversations. From thought-provoking discussions on African literature to captivating performances by renowned poets and authors.

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