Volunteer experience

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!