N. F. Kenure
I got a ticket to the just concluded Akefestival a couple of months ago and promptly forgot about it, only to be bombarded by the literary festival’s live feed via twitter when it began on Thursday the 24th of October. The website had no information for me as to what was going on and I really didn't want to walk blindly into an unknown space, so I decided not to go. A friend happened to send me the information I needed from their instagram page and I thought to drop in for just one panel discussion with Helon Habila, Chika Unigwe, Nnamdi Ehirim and Wale Lawal as the Moderator. I planned to spend an hour there listening to their thoughts on Fifty years after Things Fall Apart, except Ake swallowed me up and I spent the whole day there.
When people say the pastor had a word for them at church, that a burden in their heart had been lifted or that they found a home in the fellowship of a new gathering, that was my Ake festival experience. It answered questions I didn't even know I had. It uplifted my recently morose psyche and not to use up my sparse religious jargon, my spirit was definitely quickened. I attended two days of the four and was amazed at the attendees, guests, and discussion panels. It felt like a homecoming and I was with my people. There was a lot of imposter syndrome for me in the beginning, but I soon realised that there had to be a lot of posturing, and that’s fine. Who are we without our egos?
This year I made the decision to only read African books because it took me aback just how lacking my experience with all that our literature has to offer. Lola Soneyin's Secret Lives Of Baba Segi's Wives has been on this list for a long time and my experience at this festival tells me I've done myself a disservice by my procastination.
This was exacly where I needed to be, listening to and discussing the vibrancy of our many languages which include our colonial inheritances.
It was beautiful to be in the midst of my people. They actually really looked like me in their diversity. The gods know, I hate conformity, and this–my first literary space–was self affirming. This must be what it must be like to be at Comicon for gamers/ graphic connoisseurs. I bought too many books and had a good number signed by their authors, and no I didn’t take pictures with them. I abhor the culture of being a ‘fan’ and leeching onto other humans but that’s a whole other rant and yet, I really enjoyed the accessibility of the ‘stars’. I literally walked up to Evaristo Bernadine while she was sitting and got my store bought already signed copy of Girl, Woman, Other signed and promptly left her alone. After winning the 2019 Booker Prize, it must be overwhelming to be so sought after.
Akefest was invigorating. Is my one take away to send in my written works any and everywhere? Yes! I have been writing for years with the thought of creating a portfolio, querying, landing an agent and then hopefully getting published traditionally. But I seem to be ignoring the short story competitive circuit. So, get published everywhere else first; send in short stories, essays, reviews and get them into anthologies and other sites.
Being at Ake and walking amongst published authors and just as hungry wannabes, made me feel like everything I’ve wanted was at the tip of my fingers and I just had to stretch out a little bit more. So that’s what I’ll be doing for the rest of the year, spreading a bit of myself here and there.
Oct 30, 2019