The first Zimbabwean woman to publish a novel in English, Tsitsi Dangaremgba, will headline the 2019 Ake Arts and Book Festival with ‘Black Bodies/Grey Matter’ as its theme.
The author of ‘Nervous Conditions’, which won the Commonwealth Writers Prize in 1989 and is considered one of the 12 best African novels ever written, will be interviewed by journalist and editor, Molara Wood in the Ake Festival Life and Times Series.
Like last year’s festival which held in Lagos for the first time, the 2019 edition in partnership with Sterling Bank, will also happen in the Centre of Excellence at Alliance Francaise/Mike Adenuga Centre, Ikoyi.
The festival will feature the finest of contemporary African literature, music, art, film and theatre in over 60 events comprising school visits under the ‘Project Inspire’ banner, panel discussions, book chats, stage play, concert and art exhibition.
There will be 17 stimulating panel discussions which will tackle issues relating to the black body. They include body modification and social acceptance; eliminating sexual violence; religious extremism in Nigeria and the mental health explosion among others.
There will also be 12 book chats with exciting authors including Jamaican-American Nicole Dennis-Benn; Booker Prize-shortlisted Angolan writer Jose Agualusa; two-time Booker Prize nominee Chigozie Obioma and Mona Eltahawy.
The founder of the African Poetry Prize, Bernardine Evaristo who recently co-won the Booker Prize with Margaret Atwood; award-winning Ugandan writer Jennifer Makumbi; Helon Habila, Adaobi Nwaubani, Chika Unigwe and Toni Kan will also feature. Abdourahman Waberi, one of Francophone Africa’s literary stars, will attend from Paris.
The art exhibition which will showcase photographs that celebrate the diverse representations of the black body and mind while Jamaican/Canadian dub-poet, D’bi Anitafricka who had an excellent outing recently at the Kaduna Book and Arts Festival, will entertain guests. There will also be several films and documentaries while performances by Nigerian and international poets on Sunday evening will conclude the festival.
The music concert will feature acts from the Lagos alternative music scene.
Explaining the choice of the theme, the organisers, Book Buzz Foundation explained that: “The theme for the 2019 edition of Ake Arts and Book Festival is Black Bodies | Grey Matter, so our conversations will explore how our minds and bodies have impacted – and been impacted by – the course of history. How have the contributions – physical and mental – shaped the world for both good and ill? What echoes of the past do we still hear today?
“Multiculturalism, colonialism, internecine violence, organised religion, cultural attitudes and practices have all left their mark. Specific phenomena such as scarification and tattoos leave physical traces while colourism, stereotyping and gender non-conformity exert their influence on both psyche and soma. Interrogation of these issues yields fascinating and illuminating insights, and in the hands of creatives and thinkers gives rise to works that enrich our understanding of the African condition.