Ake Festival

AkeFest19 Review Series: Book Chats, Helpful Tips and my Bookstagram Squad.

Find Book chats, Helpful tips and Peep my bookstagram squad. I may share moments of me being a fangirl.

Aké Festival Bookstore. Image source: Nonku Magi-Africa

I attended the 7th Edition of Aké Arts and Book Festival from 24th -27th October 2019 at Alliance Française|Mike Adenuga Centre, Ikoyi, Lagos. It was a literary indulgence. I got to watch, listen to, meet, converse, take pictures with all my favourite literary creatives.

Brilliant Book Chats

Lessons on life and writing from these brilliant book chats at AkéFest19. Watch them on YouTube.

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo, Patsy by Nicole Dennis-Benn hosted by Kola Tubson

“What do we gain or lose when we chose ourselves as women?” -Nicole Dennis-Benn

I was most excited for this book chat with Bernadine and Nicole. Their books expertly explore intersectionality for Black women. Plus the Jamaican and Black British realities of diverse female characters were uniquely new experiences for me. Generational trauma, identity, queerness, motherhood, racial identity, child abandonment, colorism, immigrant struggles, mental health, self healing and acceptance, gender expression, sexual violence and more themes were discussed.

Its a privilege listening to Bernadine talk about her writing process and style that I love so much. Later, she indulged me in a chat about Mr Loverman, my favourite book of hers. Graceful icon, she is!

The Seven Necessary Sins for Women and Girls by Mona Eltahawy hosted by Fakhrriyyah Hashim

Mona Eltahawy gave me solidarity, permission and fire power. Her quotes;

“When you’re uncomfortable, your privilege is being questioned.”

“You have to liberate yourself from this war that they impose on just us women.”

“Why are women’s bodies the battle ground between religion and culture??.”

“I own this body, I take care of it.”

“I do not want crumbs; I want the whole fucking cake. And I do not want patriarchy’s cake. I want my own fucking cake”

‘Patriarchy demands of feminism to constantly clip our wings, my definition of feminism now is the total dismantling and disruption of patriarchy.’

“Imagine patriarchy as an octopus. The head of the octopus is misogyny and the other tentacles are the tools of patriarchy

My war is against patriarchy and not men.”

“It’s too late for equality, i want liberation.”

Fakhrriyyah was unforgettable! Her questions highlighted important inquires.
‘We have this idea that we are purists and anything that doesn’t fall within our cultural and religious ideals is bad.’

Do You Dream of Terra-Two by Temi OH and Incomplete Solutions by Wole Talabi hosted by Tolu Daniel

“What happens to our consciousness when we realise we are truly alone?”-Temi OH

“People think science fiction is about the future. But it’s not. I can use science fiction to investigate the now. I use it to reflect Nigeria.”-Wole Talabi

Do You Dream of Terra-Two is an introspective book on space and interstellar travel, explorong loneliness, climate change and faith by a young crew of astronauts on a mission to colonise another planet. I can’t wait to read it!

I agree with Tolu, the lyrical quality of ‘Incomplete Solutions’ sentences are commendable. Wole advised the audience;
Writing is a personal thing, you need to find your own voice. Your voice will help you write interesting stories that will get recognised. A strong base of realistic science helps root any narrative for science fiction. Instead of looking at infrastructural challenges as limits, let them inspire your work to proffer solutions.

A Particular Kind of Black Man by Tope Folarin hosted by Tobi Jaiyesimi

“The pathway to acceptance in a system that was constructed against you is constructing a better sense of self.”

A Particular Kind of Black Man explores masculine identity, self acceptance and reinventing yourself through art and music, immigrant experience of black men, depression, father-son relationships, domestic abuse of men by their spouses. It’s such a wholesome book! It made me realise that I need to pay more attention to the mental health and self development of men in my life. Tope speaks fondly of his father’s loving and positively impactful presence in his life. I love how I can connect to this because of my loving, supportive father.

Intruders by Mohale Mashigo and When Trouble Sleeps by Leye Adenle hosted by TJ Benson

This book chat introduced me to Mohale Mashigo’s writing. I love how witty she is. She writes fantastical short stories which reflect and investigate how Africans who live on the continent deal with change, trauma, identity, violence, drug abuse and more. She warns about labels put on writers which may not reflect their works.

I’m now a Stan for Leye Adenle’s When Trouble Sleeps. The jaw dropping prologue got me intrigued. I love how he writes dynamic African women characters.

Hey Gem, you’ve read halfway. 🎺🥳📯You’ve earn these 8 helpful tips for buying books, networking with book bloggers and being a thoughtful fan at literary festivals. Continue scrolling to see my bookstagram squad.

Bookstagram Squad

Gallery of all my bookstagram friends, literary bloggers, Creatives and Authors I had the privilege of linking up with at Aké.

The Content Media work schedule was hectic. My breaks were spent giving hugs, quick chats and introductions. I managed to take pictures on Day 4 although I was sniffling and weak from flu.

(L-R) Amethyst Saw, Fatima (Writer, Contributor to Art at Aké) Thanks for insisting we take pictures on Day 3.

(L-R) Lara Kareem(Author, A Guide to Self Publishing), Amaka Amaku (Communications Manager, Ake Festival Team)

Ella Chikezie (Filmmaker, Writer)

L-R) Bernadine Evaristo (Author, Booker Prize Winner), Kayode Adeyemi (Book Blogger on Instagram)

I and Kayode The Coded Reader. He kept calling me Gem, it was so sweet.

I and Alessandra of Literanda (Literary Hub) from the UK. She was incredible and as witty as her book reviews!

Lara and I 🧡

Nicole Dennis-Benn (Author, Patsy & Here Comes the Sun), Lara Kareem (Author, Blogger-NaijaBookBae)

I and Mona Eltahawy(Author, The Seven Necessary Sins for Women and Girls). She listened to me talking about Fatima’s project & loved my orange lipstick. Epic fangirl moment!

My efficient boss, Amaka & fiery Mona Eltahawy

Ezinne Ogwuah(Author, Self Apology) A remarkable friend who slayed me with this sheer Bubu and intuition.

Amaka Ehiem (Lifestyle Blogger-The Life of Amaka).I literally screamed and hugged her after she introduced herself and I recalled who she is. I had to return to live tweeting so I couldn’t take a picture with her. I think I and her are the only attendees that bought 1 book.

Copyright: Photos not taken by me are used with permission and/or referenced. Use any of these photos and reference Amethyst Saw and other owners.

Thank you for reading this far.

AkeFest19 Review Series: Art at Aké

Art exploring Black Bodies, Grey Matter.

Enjoy this curated review of Art exhibited at Aké Festival 2019 which I was privileged to attend 24th-27th October at Alliance Française|Mike Adenuga Centre, Ikoyi, Lagos.

See; Ameh Kanny’s Solo exhibition, ‘What Lies Beneath’ the Aké exhibition, Body Art & Henna, Functional Art and the Festival Mural.

Solo Exhibition: Ameh Kanny

Selfie by Ameh Kanny

Mosaic Artist, Ameh Kanny debut solo exhibition at Aké. Shot in front of her stall of vibrant Beads Artworks.

I’m super proud of Ameh for finishing in time to exhibit at Aké. I met Ameh at KabaFest and since become close friends. All her pieces are handmade with beads and mixed with some acrylic painting.

What Lies Beneath’ an art exhibition curated by Byanyan Jessica Bitrus and Roli Afinotan for Aké Arts and Book Festival 2019. It’s a thought provoking exhibition of 19 works photography by Etinosa Yvonne, Haleem Salaam, Halima Abubakar, Niyi Okeowo (not featured below) based on the festival’s theme, ‘Black Bodies, Grey Matter’. (Culled from Curatorial Statement)

Fatima (Writer)

Etinosa Yvonne’s photographs curating experiences of survivors of violence around Nigeria. Uche (Content Creator and my teammate)

Victor Adewale (Photographer) in attendance to support Etinosa. Image sourced from him.

‘In Sight of Self’ Portraits of Uche Uba by Niyi Okeowo. Both images sourced from Fatima.

Hakeem Salaam’s intimate photographs explore Vitiligo.

Halima Abubakar’s fragmented photographs explore scarification through beautifully captured facial marks and tattoos.

Body Art and Henna from Sterling Experience Tent

Kaks (Doctor, Volunteer). Image sourced from her

Henna on Lara’s hand. Image sourced from her

Tamanda, Festival Guest and Contributing Writer in ‘Water Birds on the Lakeshore’ anthology

Functional Art

Temmie Ovwasa, Singer and spoken word poet at Sterling Bank Experience Tent.

Image source: Sterling Bank

How beautiful are these stage chairs made out of Ankara cushioned Ìkòkò onírin. Traditional pots used to cook the famous Naija Party Jollof rice. Little wonder our panel discussions and book chats brought the heat, sweetness and truth. The stool is shaped as a beating drum.

Festival Mural

Aké Festival Mural is a collaborative, mixed media artwork by the Artist-in-Residence, Sayo Adetunmobi, and everyone who attends. Within its 4 days, the mural can be designed by anyone under her watchful eye.

Let’s see what the talented Sayo Adetunmobi intially displayed on 24th and the process to our final 27th collaborative piece.

Initial Mural on eve of 24th.

Progress by the 26th.

Final piece on display outside Art Gallery on 27th. A visitor intepreted the lefthand side woman without a nipple is a tribute to breast cancer survivors. This final collaborative embodies how we all see and create space for our black bodies, adorn them, and decorate our resilient minds with affirmations.

Copyright: Photos not taken by me are used with permission and/or referenced. Use any of these photos and reference Amethyst Saw and other owners.

My look embodies the festival theme. Won’t you agree?

Thank you for reading this far.

Sunny Aké Day

Ake Arts and Book Festival 2019 kicks off today at 6pm with the Welcome Ceremony

Venue: Alliance Francaise/Mike Adenuga Centre, Ikoyi, Lagos State.

For the next 3 days–with over 40 events, literary superstars and a Galaxy of information—arts and book lovers from around the world will be illuminated.

The theme this year is Black Bodies, Grey Matter and we are exploring our visions for the Black Bodies. We are reimagining and engineering our future.

I’m utterly delighted to be working with the Content Media Team to document an immesive experience for anyone who can’t attend.

Official Hashtags:




Visit the website for more info on the programe, guests and tickets. You can find live streamed videos on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

PS: If you attend and see me, say hello. I’m giving warm, soft hugs to my Gems.

Attending Literary Festivals in Nigeria

Prepare to have a magical experience without the Naija factor hindering you.

 Two famous literary festivals that occur in Nigeria are the Ake Arts and Book Festival and Lagos International Poetry Festival.

I’ve virtually attended both through twits, pictures, blog posts, live-streams and reviews. I have been counting down to attending if not one but both festivals. I hope these help with your preparations for literary festivals.

Why are you attending? Purpose of attendance will help you make the best of your experience. Understand the theme of the festival before you attend. Visit the websites of the festival for information about the festival, its theme, events, guests, reviews and organizers. Follow their Twitter, Instagram and Facebook account to view previous festivals and ask questions. Note the day and prices for festival events you’d specifically like to attend. Read the profiles about the guests and discover creatives.

Register Early: Participate in ticket giveaways, luckily you might win. If not, head to the official website of the festival and register early to enjoy the early bird fees. Make payments and get your tickets. Follow up! Don’t just attend, volunteer! Volunteers might not pay for certain expenses. Volunteering offers you the opportunity to use and gain skills. Volunteer positions for festivals are competitive and quickly taken. Pick out the events that suit your interests, if they aren’t free, pay on time. Most festivals offer the opportunity to buy tickets at the venue. But they quickly finish even at the increased rates. Asides registering early, get to the venue of the festival early..no African time you.

Comfortably Slay:  Wear comfortable clothes o. The weather in Nigeria is erratic. Some African literary festival outfits are chic Africana(ie. ankara clothes) vibrant fabrics and flamboyant accessories, adventurous hairstyles, full traditional regalias, self descriptive tshirts and denim. If you are a book blogger or SME bookseller wear attractive customized tshirt with links to your socials and sites. Hold a bag that can take your purchases. If you’re forgetful like me. You don’t want to forget your signed copy of a modern classic, festival docket or debut magazine. You’ll walk about all day so wear comfortable footwear. If you’re comfortable in heeled boots or mini leather skirt, strut it Gem. Don’t forget to slay and be creative. You can wear an outfit that fits the festival’s theme or a character of a book featured in a discussion, chat or panel you’ll attend.

Avoid Transportation Hassles; Have extra money for transportation as traffic attracts price hikes in Nigeria. Whether you’re on a danfo, bike or cab, have extra money in cash. The nearby ATM machines might not have cash in them because of the crowd. Utilize discount cab fare promos available during the festival. I’d advice you use cabs for leaving at night. Most of the festivals end midnight-ish, late. I remember regrettably walking out of the exciting poetry readings at chilly Muson Centre during LIPFest in 2015.  Often too late for safe rides in scarce public transport off and around the city (eg. the Island in Lagos). If its possible find somewhere close by to the venue of the festival to stay.

Purchase List: Have a purchase list for your desired buys.  Books, poetry albums, souvenirs, fashion pieces, food, films, arts, etc. I’m serious..literally have a list with a budget. While sticking to the list and your budget, get your purchases autographed if there are opportunities for that. Keep cash safely at hand. Ask for discounts when you purchase items. They are sometimes sold at relatively cheaper or discounted prices.

Have fun but network: Don’t be shy. Introduce yourself, brand and works. Chat, compliment, question and discuss with other attendants, facilitators and your favorite guests. Be interactive during book chats, discussions, panels, etc. Follow them on social media. Take pictures of yourself, others, the festival environs. Don’t feel excessive especially if you need content for reviews on your blog and socials. Bring your gadgets and their chargers, there will be charging outlets and free wifi.

Stay Safe: A festival is a very public space. Please be cautious, polite and security conscious. Don’t leave your things, food or pass unattended with anyone no matter the length of time. Make sure you are with your pass, dockets for every day your attend the festival. Leave the festival when you are comfortable and safe. Especially if you’re alone or tipsy on palm wine.

I hope these tips help you prepare for that literary festival. Have a magical experience Gem! Tag me your pictures on Instagram.