23rd LABAF marking CORA’s 30th anniversary begins tomorrow

THE Committee for Relevant Art (CORA) has released the program of events for the 23rd Lagos Book and Art Festival (LABAF) themed ‘A Fork in the Road’.

The festival, which will hold from November 15 to 21 physically and virtually, is dedicated to veteran actress Taiwo Ajai-Lycett. She clocked 80 earlier in the year. It comprises the adult, youth and children segments.

Explaining the choice of theme, the organisers said: “After the period of languor ushered in by the COVID 19 pandemic, which justified our choice of last year’s festival theme: ‘A State of Flux’, the nation has seemingly reached a tipping point in every parameter used to describe the quality of life. All the demons have crawled out of the woodwork. At this point, we are at ‘A Fork in the Road’”

The 2021 feast of ideas and life for education, enlightenment and empowerment featuring conversations, exhibitions, workshops, drama, poetry, dance and films, will begin on the 15th with activities including the CORA Young Creative Club workshop and performances, the PRAXIS hangout session themed ‘ENDSARS: The Politics of Youth and Creative Documentation’, a panel session on ‘African Writing: The Journey with James Currey’ and a seminar on ‘Prospects & Challenges of a Culture Magazine in the Nigeria Literary Ecosystem’ around the launch of ANOTEARTHUB.COM – an online culture magazine. The Book Trek featuring readings and conversations around the newest books on the Nigerian shelf will precede the Festival Libation, an evening of music & screenings including ‘Taiwo Ajai-Lycett: Matriarch of the Act’ by CORA, and ‘LABAF: Through their Eyes’, by Terh Agbedeh.

Day two of the 2021 LABAF is dedicated to visual arts and will feature an Arthouse Forum themed ‘Homage to the recent Arthouse Ancestors…’ including art historian and teacher Ola Oloidi, the YABATECH teacher and painter, Mike Omoighe, and the eminent Yusuf Grillo at Kongi’s Harvest Art Gallery. The panellists are Oliver Enwonwu, Dr Ademola Azeez, Moses Ohiomokhare, and Dr Akin Onipede. Yusuf Durodola will stage a performance entitled ‘Atupa’ after this. Another Arthouse Forum themed ‘State of the Collectors’ Vault’ follows. Dr Sola Ogunfuwa, Olu Ajayi, Dr Kunle Adeyemi, and Prof. Jerry Buhari will discuss the collections of the late Rasheed Gbadamosi, Sammy Olagbaju, Frank Okonta, and Abdulaziz Udeh. Founder, Omooba Yemisi Shyllon Art Foundation (OYASAF), Prince Yemisi Shyllon, will be the special guest of honour. CORA board member, Chinwe Uwatse, is the chair. Artist and art writer, Mufu Onifade, is the moderator.

The Opening of the art exhibition, ‘Timeless Memories: A Celebration of Life and For Humanity and a performance by Jelili Atiku entitled ‘MokóóMorò’ (Nomadic Performance) and the screening of ‘Allelu? Alleluiah!: The Legend of Mazi Ukonu’ are some of the day’s other activities.

The Readers’ Forum themed ‘Leaders are Readers: Why I Read What I Read’ featuring Chief Executive of AA Holdings, Austin Avuru, is scheduled for Wednesday. Lead anchor, ARISE TV, Dr Reuben Abati, is the lead interlocutor with CEO Tanus Books, Dr Yemi Ogunbiyi, as the chair.

After this, attention will shift to Nollywood with a series of events on the movie industry. These include ‘In Cold Text: How I Made it in Nollywood’, which sees Toni Kan discussing the ‘Portrait of a Warri Boy’ with Richard MofeDamijo, Omoni Oboli on ‘Why I Wrote the Stars are Ageless’ and Charles Novia on ‘Updates on Nollywood till November: Memoirs of a Nollywood Insider’. There’s also the examination of Nollywood memoirs, including ‘Reflections: An Anthology of Thoughts on Nigerian Movie Industry – Pioneers, Creativity & Tenacity’ by Femi Akintunde-Johnson and ‘Reversal Filmmaking: To God’s Bedroom and Back: Untold Story of the Nollywood Revolution’ by Matthew Olusegun Simpa. Film journalist and academic Dr Shaibu Husseini will moderate while filmmaker Femi Odugbemi chairs.

One of LABAF’s main activities, the Publishers’ Forum with the sub-theme, ‘Distilling the proposed National Books Distribution Company, Library Bill of Rights; and the rising number of Book Clubs across the country’, happens on Thursday.

The first session, ‘Getting Books to the Readers across the country’, will feature a lead talk by President, Booksellers Association of Nigeria, Dare Oluwatuyi, with President, Nigerian Publishers Association, Chief Uchenna Cyril Anioke, as respondent. Panellists are Rufus Onaopemipo, Iquo Diana Abasi, Farida Ladipo-Ajayi, and Dotun Eyinade.

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The PAWA-CORA Convention themed ‘Development of Literature in African Indigenous Languages’ follows at 2 pm with PAWA Sec-Gen, Dr Wale Okediran, delivering the lead talk. Writer and translator Kola Tubosun will moderate the panel session featuring Cameroon, Kenya, Ghana, South Africa, and Egypt representatives.

The students/youths will have their day on Friday with the commencement of the Green Festival component of LABAF. ‘The Book in My Life’ segment featuring   Dame Taiwo Ajai-Lycett mentoring children on the importance of reading and education will kick start the busy day’s events.

A colloquium on the festival theme, ‘A Fork in the Road’ with a keynote speech by AyishaOsori, Ajai-Lycett as an honoured guest and chaired by Chief Kayode Aderinokun, will happen by 1 pm. Ajai-Lycett will make a presentation titled ‘Restore, Renew’ by 2 pm. The winner of the Ken SaroWiwa Essay Competition for youths will be announced at 7 pm.

LABAF’s activities will continue on Saturday with more readings and conversations before ending on Sunday. Highlights of the day include the Art Stampede themed ‘CORA @ 30: Reflections’. The loaded segment begins with a documentary screening, ‘30 VOICES FOR CORA @ 3O’, followed by a discussion. CORA’s first president, Yomi Layinka, will deliver the keynote with presentations by Tunde Lanipekun, Jossey Ogbuanoh and Chika Okeke-Agulu. There will also be interventions by Edmond Enaibe, Francis Onwochei, and Prof Tunji Azeez. Writer and journalist Molara Wood will moderate the session. LABAF 2021 will wrap with a concert featuring Kayefi Osha, Empress Aderinsola, Wura Samba, Edaoto, Bibi, Mshow and SeunOlota.

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