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For five days in the month of November, the city of Abeokuta will host a celebration of books, art and culture like no other. The Ake Arts and Book Festival 2016 will attract novelists, poets, actors, illustrators, musicians, activists and thinkers from all over the African continent to the city beneath the rock, where they will seek to turn the attention of book lovers and art enthusiasts to the role played by the arts in defining identity and shaping lives.

The Ake Arts and Book Festival is organized by Book Buzz Foundation, an NGO which works to spread the gospel of literacy and cultural enlightenment by developing reading spaces and organizing events. The theme of this year’s festival is Beneath This Skin– a title which Lola Shoneyin, the festival’s director, says is inspired by “a need to look at identity and what it means to be African, understanding how we (Africans) see ourselves and our place in the world”. This theme will be explored by 18 authors in 9 book chats, 2 art exhibitions, 12 panel discussions, 5 film screenings, a music concert, a stage play, a tour of historic sites, school visits, and a night of poetry performance.

This year’s edition of the Ake Festival its fourth and it will be attracting well-known figures from across the artistic spectrum, from Africa and beyond. Guests who will be speaking at the event include Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Titilope Sonuga, Patrick Okigbo, Helon Habila, Lebo Mashile, Kola Tubosun, Andrew Walker, Michael Kelleher, Dike Chukwumerije, Teju Cole, Ranca Primorac, among others. They have the task of doing justice to the deep and complex matter of this year’s theme, as well as discuss prison stories and horror fiction.

The Ake Arts and Book Festival 2016 will take place from Tuesday, November 15 to Saturday 19 November 2016, at the Arts and Cultural Centre, Kuto, Abeokuta.

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This article was first published on 14th November 2016


Ikenna Nwachukwu holds a bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He loves to look at the world through multiple lenses- economic, political, religious and philosophical- and to write about what he observes in a witty, yet reflective style.

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