The Life and Times of Ama Ata Aidoo

 The Life and Times of Ama Ata Aidoo Moderated by Molara Wood


A girl's voice does not break, and other quotes from Ama Ata Aidoo.

At the end of Aké festival every year, there is a session which features an interview with the headliner of the year just before Palm wine and poetry and the closing party. This year's life and times session featured the headliner, Ama Ata Aidoo, ghanian author, playwright and academic. She is renowned for her works, Sister Kill Joy and Changes, and other works that feature women protagonists who defy stereotypical women's roles of their time. It was headlined by Kenyan writer Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o in 2016 and by poet in Niyi Osundare in 2015.

Saraba Launch : Transitions Issue

Saraba Launch : Transitions Issue


The Saraba Launch held in the exhibition hall where a small crowd congregated round Dami Ajayi and Emmanuel Iduma as they welcomed everyone and introduced the maiden 'Transitions' issue. Copies were stacked behind them and Emmanuel invited TJ Benson to read from his story in the issue 'Pretty Bird.' He walked to the center of the carpet and urged everyone to join him before he read but someone said something about bedbugs. 'Well I am not afraid of bedbugs' he said before reading some paragraphs from his story. Kola Tubosun and Temitayo Amogunla were then invited to read from their essay 'House No.57' which was inspired by, according to an introduction by Temitayo, how a space is affected by time.

Stage Play; Quarter Life Crisis

Stage Play; Quarter Life Crisis


What began with almost empty hall swelled with people as Yolanda Mercy thrilled people with one liners and some spoken word poetry in her one-man stage play 'Quarter Life Crisis'.

The thing that was unique about her play was a back drop behind her on which phone calls and text conversations with family members and potential lovers of her character

Talking Sexual Violence: Victims & Violations

Woleosho steals the show and the law is an ass

Talking Sexual Violence: Victims & Violations

Panelists: Kikelomo Woleosho, Florida Uzoaru, Femi Oyebode

Moderator: Bim Adewunmi

Much, much later on Saturday, many festival goers would lose all propriety under the influence of alcohol and music. But a long way before that, just before Arsenal pummelled Spurs into submission, sporadic applause broke out for Kikelomo Woleosho, whose pointed commentary delivered with Jenifa-style theatrics sat well with the audience at Saturday’s first, very lively panel, Talking Sexual Violence: Victims & Violation.

Festival of Short Films

The right to be ordinary

Festival of Short Films

Featured Films: Bariga Sugar (Ifeoma Chukwuogo), Through Her Eyes ( Nadine Ibrahim), Face of Defiance  (Leyla Hussein)

Moderator: Arit Okpo

The right to be ordinary—mundane—in the face of adversity was the object of the Friday’s showcase of short films. The right to be ordinary, of course, derives from acceptance—and a consequent transcendence—of one’s supposedly exceptional circumstances. Sex workers have loves, have scrapes and bear offspring who desire friendships. When Jamil dies and Bariga Sugar cuts to credits, not a few eyes in Cinema Hall were glazed over with the beginning of tears.

Look, we’ve been subjected to genital mutilation, Leyla Hussein’s Face of Defiance points out, but the fact doesn’t make us any less human, any less creatures of desire. We laugh, we cry, we fall sick, recover, we jazz june, we real cool, we wack too. We are as ordinary as anyone else.

The Illusion of Truth by Mara Menzies

Who needs writing when there is Menzies?

Story Telling Session: The Illusion of Truth by Mara Menzies

There was no moonlight at Ake that afternoon (how could there be?), and we were gathered in a hall, not under the shade of a large tree at the village square. There was Mara Menzies though, beautiful, dazzling and majestic up on the stage, telling tall tales, reminding us all of the way evenings used to pass.

She told two stories, one from Kenya and one from Cuba.

On Thursday, Mona had exhorted women to reform cultural practice by force of initiative. Wachu, the first story’s protagonist, was corroboration from antiquity. By migrating the bone of contention—the eating of meat—from the wispy realm of theory into the concrete realm of practice, Wachu’s defiance taught the Gikuyu the arbitrariness of convention. Only the flimsiest of whims, it is demonstrated, prevents the Gikuyu woman from eating meat. Nietzsche be praised.

A Discussion on Financing the Creative Arts

Nobody owes you anything: A Discussion on Financing the Creative Arts

Panelists: Henry Bassey, Ojoma Ochai, Tom Ilube

Moderator: Olaokun Soyinka

In a furious fusillade of f-word and righteous indignation, Mona had declared the ultimate task of the feminist to be seizing the day—because waiting for the patriarchy to fix itself on its own terms was an exercise in f is for futility. Uncover your hair, become an Imam, pray during your period. Seize the day! A line of Muslim girls walked out; it pained them deeply, these things Mona was saying. The rest of us erupted in applause.

Welcome Ceremony

The official welcome ceremony of the Ake festival began on Thursday with an introduction by Arit Okpo who apologized for the delay. As expected the cultural center was filled to the brim and guests and visitors from fourteen countries all over the world. Celeste enthralled everyone with her rendition of the Nigerian anthem and before the audience could sit Adunni and Nerfetiti group continued with the Abeokuta anthem which ended with applause.

Women and Spirituality

Panellists: Mona Eltahawy, Marta Celestino

Moderator: Olaokun Soyinka

“Yoruba is well connected to brazil”

These are the opening words of moderator Olaokun Soyinka in a panel with Ms. Marta Celestina, an Iyalorisha from Brazil and Mona Eltahawy, a feminist. The panel titled women and spirituality explores how different religions interfere with and affect women’s lives positively or negatively. The discussions centre about Abrahamic religions and the Candomble religion. Marta Celestina is a Candomble which is the Brazilian branch of the Yoruba traditional religion. She has been intitated for Ogun since 2001 and has been a Candomble devotee for most of her life. Mona Eltahawy, who introduces all her panels with the three words: fuck the patriarchy, is a freelance Egyptian-American journalist and Muslim feminist.

What’s new in African Feminisms:

Mona Eltahawy, Iheoma Obibi, Charmaine Pereira

Moderator: Hannah Azieb Pool

This panel was part of WOW - Women of the World Festival at Ake Arts & Book festival 

Fuck the Patriarchy:

These are the first words of Mona Eltahawy in an all-women’s panel on “What is new in African feminism?” moderated by Hannah Azieb Pool. It is how she starts all her panels, her motto. Mona continues this broad message with specific intense statements on feminism. Her voice is filled with excitement. You cannot miss the fact that this is something she is very passionate about. She starts with the premise that western feminism is failing and has failed and that this patriarchy commits crimes against our body. “I am going to America to rescue white women. They chose to elect a fascist fuck, Donald Trump and now, with the news of Harvey Weinstein, they are pretending like they do not know that this has always happened, that everything has not been solved. I go to places to say the things I am not supposed to say. Patriarchy tells us what to say. I am trying to dismantle it. They call me a slut and I own it but I am not defined by it. I am fighting the disillusion of western feminism as a feminist and a Muslim. No more pretence that western feminism has saved us. African Feminism is on the rise. We are fighting patriarchy whether it is tribal or religious. I fight the Muslim brotherhood, Christian brotherhood and the Hindu brotherhood”

Talking Sexual Violence: Victims & Violation

Panellists: Florida Uzoaru, Femi Oyebode, Kikelomo Woleosho

Moderator: Bim Adewunmi

“The issue of sexual violence is a public health issue – physical and mental health. We are aware of it but do not speak of it: the way society treats survivors and victims, the stigma, the structures to help survivors and victims.”

Bim Adewunmi starts the important conversation on talking sexual violence: victims and violation,  a panel with Femi Oyebode; professor of psychiatry, Kikelomo Woleosho: a photographer and writer who has a memoir on sexual abuse and Florida Uzoaru, co-creator of Slide Safe box, an innovative pack that provides STI test kits and emergency contraceptives.

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