Sterling Bank Plc has said it is committed to continuing to support the annual Ake Arts and Book Festival because it views Nigeria as a component of a larger world and believes that the country’s energy is what makes it most competitive.
Executive Director at Sterling Bank, Yemi Odubiyi, stated this in a goodwill message at the opening of the 10th edition of the festival in Lagos
Odubiyi noted that Nigeria can become a leader in the world as part of its competitiveness.
“Nigeria enjoys a comparative advantage in the arts and culture domain, and Sterling, being focused on promoting the development of human capital and improving national competitiveness, is thrilled to have been a part of the festival for the past six years and plans to continue to do so,” he said.
Founder and director of the festival, Lola Shoneyin said, “I’m often amused when people say they can’t believe how long we’ve been doing this. I believe it has been 10 years. It has been 10 years of bringing brainwaves to life, 10 years of learning, 10 years of celebrating the incredible work that so many of you have done and are still doing and 10 years of making lifelong friends.”
“Homecoming’”, she said, was chosen as the theme of this year’s festival because, “we were going back to Abeokuta where it all began, and it was time to reconnect with our ancestral roots. The main reason Homecoming was so perfect is that we couldn’t wait to have you back at Ake after the COVID-19 pandemic”.
Adding that after two years of lockdown and online festivals, the festival is back again as participants can mingle, catch up on news and strengthen their friendships and that this moment, this feeling, is what has kept them going.
Shoneyin said the priority has always been to ensure that guests feel at home since the very first edition of the Ake Festival, consequently, during this year’s edition of Ake Review, guests were asked to express what home means to them, and the common responses were: A place of love; friendship and a sense of belonging.
She thanked the winner of the 2021 Nobel Prize for Literature, Professor Abdulrazaq Gurnah and his wife, Professor Denise Gurnah for honouring the invitation to attend the festival in person as well as the headliner of this year’s festival, Professor Veronique Tadjo, for finding time to be a part of the festival.
Other highlights of this year’s festival include the hosting of Directors of the Global Association of Literary Festivals, while many of the panel sessions explored different aspects of the theme.
Some of the sessions focused on why home exerts a pull on us, stirs our creative impulses, influences our creative expressions, evokes profound sentiments, and shapes our perception of the outside world.
Others explored the impact of conflict, capitalism, and climate disasters as well as what it means to be displaced, to live away from home and, of course, to return.
The festival also featured book discussions on the idea of a home and how for some people, the home might not be a place of safety, but a place of violence, among others.
Curtains fell on the festival, which started in Lagos on Thursday, November 24 on Saturday, November 26.