Sterling affirms support for African literature

•Sponsors Ake Festival for 3rd year

AHEAD of this year’s Aké Arts and Book Festival (AABF) happening from October 22 to 25 digitally, headline sponsor of the event, Sterling Bank, has affirmed its commitment to the development of African literature.

The 2020 AABF themed ‘African Time’ will happen virtually because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It will feature 65 inspiring book chats, workshops, panel discussions and performances from the most exciting voices across Africa and the African Diaspora.

The theme, according to the organisers, Book Buzz Foundation, was chosen in recognition of the global anti-racism movement that has gathered momentum and visibility in recent months.

“Audiences across the world are invited to join luminaries from contemporary fiction, non-fiction, poetry, film, theatre, music and visual arts in discussions about some of the most critical issues of our time, including race, gender, identity, equality and mental health, technology, religion and empathy.”

Explaining the bank’s sponsorship of the festival for the third consecutive year, its chief executive officer, Abubakar Suleiman, said it was desirous of helping to raise a new generation of writers.

Suleiman said, “Sterling continues to support Aké Arts and Book Festival because we see the creative industry’s potential to generate local and foreign earnings. Over the last four years, we have seen the magic that happens when young Africans come into contact with their literary heroes.

“Nigerians have won just about every literary prize, but it’s important to support the next generation of creatives. We want them to be inspired, and we consider it a privilege to be able to bring people closer to achieving their creative dreams.”

Director and Founder of the festival, Lola Shoneyin, added: “Our world has changed forever; we cannot ignore the magnitude of recent world events. In 1918, African nations were in the clutches of imperial forces that degraded our stories, culture, history, language and belief systems.

“More than a century later, the COVID-19 pandemic finds Africa struggling with the colonial hangover of poor leadership and a predatory global order. Now is the time for Africa to recalibrate and break the cycle of betrayal by those elected to lead. It may have come later than hoped for, but, for the children of Africa everywhere, this is African Time.”

Ake 2020 is open to all interested persons who only need to register. It will feature guests including Nobel Laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka, Maryse Conde, Tayari Jones, Esi Edugyan, Marlon James, Petina Gappah, Kehinde Andrews, Elias Wondimu, Zukiswa Wanner, Molara Wood, Bolu Babalola, Okechukwu Nzelu and others.

Attendees will be able to participate in 26 stimulating panel discussions, 24 author talks, storytelling sessions, three workshops, a concert, two exhibitions, poetry performances, films and a stage play.

Discussions at the event will cover issues including intersectional feminism, blacktivism and colourism. Others are the burgeoning post-COVID mental health crisis and decolonisation of black spaces.

Highlights of the panel discussion include ‘Black Women Harnessing Anger for Social Change’; ‘Publishing While African’; ‘Decolonising Feminism in Africa’ and ‘Why African Needs Feminist Giants’.




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