Literary Festivals

The magical memories and lessons from sensational literary festivals I’ve attended.

ALitFest 2019

I attended ALitFest 2019 hosted by the Abuja Literary Society from 11th-13th of July 2019 at Exhibition Pavilion, Area 10, Garki.

The festival had creative guests, writers, bookstores, literary enthusiasts, vendors enjoy Panel discussions, Book Reading, Wedlock of the Gods stage adaptation, Arts auction, Poetry slam and Music performance.

My friends, Amaka, Logan, Tolu were guests of the festival. I was esctactic hugging and laughing with them and also watching them on panels.

“The 21st Century Nigerian man is learning everyday how to be human.”-Tolu Daniel

Panelist, The 21st Century Nigerian man #ALitFest19

Poetry Slam

I attended a little part of the interesting Poetry Slam, the evening of 12th July. From social commentary poems to a scintillating erotic poem about Banga soup to poems about betrayal to love poems. Two volunteers from Lipfest18 were in the poetry slam with lyrical poems. I shared videos in my I.G story highlights.

Panel Discussions

Saturday 13th, I attended 4 panel discussions, 2 in full and 2 in part. I unlearned, released and learnt.

“We have a wrong perception of a sexual perpetrator, it isn’t a man but a human. A victim is human.” -Dorothy

Panelist, #NigeriaToo- Sexual Harrassment in Nigeria’s public & private spaces

The 21st Century Nigerian man is a man who is constantly at war with himself and at war with the society. Self actualization is important for this man but in the context of family -Michael

Writer and Comment made from audience.

Art Auction

I also networked, walked through the Art Auction and discussed with two artists.

Bookstores and Book shopping

Logan February was kind to autograph my copy of his full length poetry collection.

Books at the RovingHeights Bookstore stand.

The Booksellers Limited stand

I shopped these two books for my dear reader and divalicious friend who values my recommendations. She wanted more African Queer Fiction after reading Stab Love with Flower Stalks. I got autographed copies of ‘In The Nude’ by Logan February and ‘Lákíríboto Chronicles’ by Ayodele Olofintuade. I worked within her budget also!

New Friends!

It was a delight getting introduced to Ope Adedeji, creative non-fiction writer and TJ Benson, writer and author. I met Fatima and her sister. Also Onyinye who were great conversationalists and fellow literary enthusiasts.

If you can attend any literary festival, please do!

Poets and Writers I Discovered at #LIPFest18


True Gems! L-R: Logan February and Ella Chikezie. Image source- Ella Chikezie.

One of the beautiful things of literary festivals is meeting your favorite writers.
Another beautiful thing is discovering your next favorite writer. Or better, falling in love with their works.

  • Ella Chikezie is an Administrator at Creative Africa and on the Lagos Poetry Festival Team. She publishes creative articles, short poetry and stories on instagram and her blog. She was the head of Catering and Guest Welfare Team for Lagos International Poetry Festival. It was delightful working with her during #LIPFest18.  I love her poems and stories. ‘Someday may you look back and smile because/you found purpose in your pain, and may you/look forward with courage because you learnt to /dance in the rain.’ Her engaging pieces have continuity, vibrant consciousness and were quirky. Ella, I’m eagerly waiting for your chapbook.
  • Dr Obari Gomba and I had a lengthy, humorous and insightful conversation during our ride from the airport. We discussed ignorance and discrimination, export of African creative writers, the large pool of unknown Nigerian writers, movie adaptation of books, role of social media and blogs in promoting Nigerian literature through reviews and online self-publishing. Yes, that much! He gifted me an autographed copy of his Guerrilla Post, an engaging play.
  • Logan February and I struck up a conversation after the Opening Ceremony. I was fascinated with his leg work ie. how he crossed his legs. I gave up on sitting crossed leg as a teenage tomboy. Why would I squish my thick thighs? We struck up a friendship after some honest conversations with Amaka and Chioma during Wide Awake Concert. Logan is the author of two poetry chapbooks, How to Cook A Ghost and Painted Blue with Salt Water, book reviewer amongst other things. Poetry chapbooks are like small packs of spicy, sweet, small chops. ‘Dissolve two fallen stars in a cup of chamomile/and it tastes a lot like sweet deception’-A Night of No New Things. I find Logan’s poems fascinating and rhythmic with vivid imagery.
  • Tolu Daniel is a writer and photographer. When I met him he asked ‘where did you lose your voice?’ and that made me laugh. That Saturday my voice was in cracked whispers because I’d been speaking with sore throat the past three days. I thought he was T.J Benson but he forgave my mistake and we had a lovely chat. His fiction and non-fiction have appeared in numerous literary magazines like Expound, Saraba Magazine, Afridiaspora, Brittlepaper and a few other places. He lives in Abeokuta. I love how he describes, the tone of The Unkindness of Ravens and its inclusive second person perspective. ‘A darkness amplified by long-grass music. Coupled with the acapella of  crickets and frogs and Chinese generators  in every house along the street. The darkness covers the horizon, skirting through the edges of the street, hovering over each house, one after the other like a big, black blanket.’
  • Obii Ifejika is that poet I met on the stage of the 1st Edition of LIPFEST. She performed a captivating poem with a grieving persona. The persona was the mother of a kidnapped Chibok Girls. Back in 2015 I’d cried, shivering in the velvet seats of chilly Muson Centre. During the Wide Awake Concert, her poems made the attendees remember the unforgotten Chibok Girls and anguish. Her second poem was a moving love poem about reminding a lover about your love. I spoke with her the next day and she said that poem reflects on how everyone has a part in the end of a relationship. ‘Loneliness greets you with its morning breath,/Limbers your arms,/And feathers kisses over your face’– The Waking Hour. Check out her blog for more poetry.


Other Poets I thoroughly enjoyed their stellar performances include:

Jabir Malick ia a Senegalese performance poet, musician and teacher. We had an interesting conversation on feminism and people’s need to accept other people’s cultural differences. I loved his performance of Original I Copied during the Wide Awake Concert.

Julian Huen, a unique German poet who gave me heart palpitations. He kept wandering Freedom Park grounds minutes before his performance. It was worth seeing him prep for his rhythmic performance. The poem encouraged the listener not to listen to toxic self doubt.

There is the magical Lebo Mashile, South African performer, activist and the LIPFEST18 resident poet. I watched her performances and marveled at how she used words to tell untold feminine narratives.

Nick Makoha, Ugandan poet from the UK. He hosted a workshop that really helped me improve the tone, rhythm and description of my short stories. I watched him perform King of Myth,The Dark and a third poem. His mastery of metaphor, rhythm and imagery are laudable.



Let me show you some goodies I got from the just concluded Lagos International Poetry Festival 2018.


I remember advising one have a purchase list when attending literary festivals. In Memory of Forgetting by Wana Udobang, was one work on my purchase list. It was a delight watching Wana Wana read some poems from this poetry album. During In Memory of Forgetting: An Evening with Wana Udobang and Lebo Mashile at A Whitespace on 31st October 2018. This was an enjoyable event during the Lagos International Poetry Festival 2018. I’ve given this 10 poems long album a listen. It is moving, rhythmic and brilliant. “When life puts you on a leash. You chew yourself free.” The poetic lyrics, melodic beats, tone of the poet, endearing personas! Everything leaves me in awe. This poetry album is highly recommended.

I also bought Painted Blue With Saltwater by Logan February. I began reading it seated at the feet of the three wise men at Freedom Park. I read the first three poems and knew I liked the reflective, transforming, queer persona. Know yourself and do not be ashamed of what others think. Fly above shackling realities. These would be the lessons I’m learning from this chapbook. It’s a poetry chapbook worth reading.

I bought the second poetry album, CHAP MAN by 2’wyth because I liked the poet’s hairstyle. I like the message, metaphor and imagery of the poems. But the poet’s flow with instrumentals and vocalists needs improvement.


One of my duties as a volunteer on the Catering and Guests Welfare Team was airport pick-ups. Although, it was tiring I had fun. It was exciting conversing with the creatives I picked up.  I got gifted an autographed engaging play, Guerrilla Post by Dr Obari Gomba. Very sweet gesture by this impressive writer. Tender Moments by Niyi Osundare was another gift from LIPFest18. Prof would repeatedly call me Ada Ada. Yes, like the popular Flavour song! I was pleased he said he enjoyed my company and found me bold and beautiful. I held my breath as I watched Jabir Malick eat jollof Nigerian rice for the first time. He voted it very good. A huge complement from a Senegalese as jollof originated from there. I enjoyed our conversations, his curious camera and his performances. He has a seductive French- Hausa accent y’all. Having his poetry album, S Comme Slam produced by Vendredi Slam. Nick Makoha shared the postcard with a poem, King of Mythduring his invigorating workshop on 1st November 2018. Its sad I couldn’t purchase his poetry collection, Kingdom of Gravity.

Getting these goodies makes me smile. If you could see my apartment you’d laugh. I have them stacked next to my candy tin and stuffed pets, Mini and Ewa Chi. Just under the gaze of my window plant jars.  One of my reading goals for 2k18 was to read more poetry. Although, I’ve achieved my goal. It feels good to surpass it. To be able to find treasured poets, fall in love with poetry and have new pieces for law school and next year. I’m grateful. 


My LIPFest ’18 Volunteer Experience: Before Festival


If you recall, in my Lush October welcome post, I gushed about volunteering for poetry festival. My volunteer application for Lagos International Poetry Festival 2018 was accepted. I’ll be recording my experience volunteering for the festival. I hope this series assist you decide to volunteer or attend future LIPFest editions.  LIPFEST is West Africa’s largest poetry festival for poets, creatives and visitors from around the world. It’s fourth edition, themed Wide Awake, examines the growing importance of vigilance in a post-truth era. Conversations will explore new frontiers in the fight for gender equality and identity, racial and social justice and how the concerns of awakening collective consciousness and mediating justified paranoia animates art. At Freedom Park, Old Prison Ground Street, Lagos from Oct. 31th – Nov. 4th the festival draws 35 guests from 12 countries for a series of events. These include 4 workshops and masterclasses, 10 panel discussions, 5 evenings of readings and performances, 1 concert, 2 parties (Lagos style). LIPFest 2018 launches its poet in residence program with the phenomenal South African poet and activist Lebo Mashile.


Introductory Volunteer Training

I’d responded to the email affirming my volunteer application on Saturday. It instructed I get to an address at Ikeja GRA for 11 am on Monday 22nd. I got to the address an hour early but the training began a few minutes past 11am. I met a giraffe while I waited at the lobby reading two stories from Leslie Arimah’s What It Means When A Man Falls from the Sky. Yeah, I took a picture of it after the meet-up/introductory session hosted by Seun Alli, the LIPFest 2018 Project Manager. She addressed us warmly in a board room. We introduced ourselves Shade, Grace, Tobi, Seun and I. Seun Alli introduced the festival, its 4th Edition theme, Wide Awake, inquiring about our thoughts during her introduction. She proceeded to discuss the programme and various categories the LIPFest Team has and their responsibilities. A list of ethics and rules were shared. Volunteers need to be friendly, honest, accepting, punctual and effectively diligent. She talked about the festival’s founder Efe Paul Arinzo, Lebo Mashile the South African poet in resident, other guests and sponsors.  Seun Alli mentioned we would be given N5,000 as a token for transportation from the LIPFest team. We had an exercise to build connections. I’d been worried it would be a shaku shaku dance exercise. Because I can’t dance shaku shaku expertly and many Africana companies take ‘urban’ and ‘informal’ to a silly extreme. Instead we had to write one truth and lie about ourselves on pieces of paper, shuffle them then guess out the truth or lie. It was fun! We were given 5 tickets for the Concert and Poetry After Dark event respectively for sale. The meeting/training ended past 12 noon with promises of an email offer contract from the organizers. I did get that email in the evening.

Poetry After Dark official ticket


Offer Letter to LIPFest Volunteers

The offer letter had terms and conditions which set out everything to be known and needed for a volunteer contract between the volunteer and LIPFest Team. There were 8  clauses, an acceptance column and segment for contact and account details. I filled in my residential address and phone number in the spaces provided. I’ll briefly discuss the terms and conditions of this detailed offer letter. The first clause was training and it stated the training I attended the previous day was mandatory. The offer letter shows your volunteer application is accepted. Second clause was scope and detail of work. It stated the volunteer contract commences Monday 29th but didn’t specify the end of the contract. Even under termination, clause 8, which lists 3 situations that lead to termination without liability after given notice. Work hours are 9am-9pm with an hour break. Volunteer is to sign-in their attendance with Project Manager at assigned venues. The offer letter warns the hours may be longer. General responsibilities listed don’t differ from those mentioned at the training. These include:

  • Organizing queues, hand out brochures and answer practical questions about the programme, suggesting events to attend and giving more details about the festival events in general.
  • Registering and ushering LIPFest Visitors and guests through festival venues
  • Ticket sale for the Festival concert and party(Poetry After Dark)
  • Promotion of the festival via social media.
  • Complete any other tasks assigned to you by the Project Manager, your supervisor and other members of the LIPFest team related to the successful delivery of the event.

the reception giraffe..

Another clause mentioned the travel stipend of N5,000 in Welfare payable within 10 working days after the fest. Dress Code is provided branded tshirt, blue/black jeans, comfortable shoes to be worn through out. This reminded me of my outfit suggestions in Attending Literary Festivals in Nigeria. There are important clauses like Data Protection and Photography Consent. The former seeks to bind volunterers not to personally use data collection during festival. A very important clause. The latter clause requested I agree to the taking of my pictures and videos, using them with/without references and passing these to media houses, etc around the world.  The festival’s sole liability are under scope and detail of work, dress code and welfare.



LIPFest Volunteer Contract

I reread the printed offer letter, made notes of my responsibilities, Festival’s liabilities and other legal issues highlighted. I filled it and appended my signature. Just with that, I’d entered a legally binding contract with LIPFest to volunteer for their 2018 Edition. I attached scans of my signed contract, all three pages, in an email to the Project Manager. In my email I requested we be given more than one tshirt for the duration of the festival. It will be nice if its granted. I don’t want to be scented mangoes and dried sweat. So the magic begins behind the scenes 29th October. I’m really excited but saving for my expenses. Plus, I’m selling tickets to the Concert and Poetry After Dark party.

Are you attending LIPFest 2018? It would be a delight seeing you Gem!