New Telegraph

September 30, 2023

Ake Festival 2022: Celebrating decade of books, arts, culture

Sterling Bank Plc and the Book-Buzz Foundation have jointly announced the continuation of their partnership for the 2022 edition of the Ake Arts and Books Festival taking place in Lagos from 24-26 November 2022. The Chief Marketing Officer of Sterling Bank, Ibidapo Martins, and awardwinning writer and poet, and the director of the Book Buzz Foundation, Lola Shoneyin, disclosed in a joint statement issued at a press conference held in Ikeja GRA, Lagos, to announce the 10th edition of Ake Arts and Book Festival themed ‘Homecoming’.

The Ake Arts and Books Festival is a yearly celebration of African Culture and literature, featuring book chats, panel discussions, readings, workshops, roundtable discussions, performances, stage plays, as well as art exhibitions from Nigerian and international artists.

Shoneyin explained that the choice of ‘Home Coming’ as the theme for this year’s festival is based on the recognition that, “although our African roots influence our arts and creative expression as we migrate and settle across the globe, these bonds may weaken with time, making the ritual of homecoming even more significant.”

She noted the importance of African creatives experiencing the regenerative power of our ancestral roots, adding that Ake Festival is a safe space for black people of the world to hold open and frank discussions about what it means to be African, its creativity, and the place of its Art in the world. “We do not shy away from difficult conversations but actively confront taboo subjects.

We are of the firm belief that understanding and tolerance are critical for collective growth. That’s why, after three days of cultural immersion, everyone goes home forever changed, motivated and inspired,” Shoneyin stated. Commenting on why Sterling Bank has consistently sponsored the festival in recent times, Martins said, “Storytellers are the custodians of our collective truths and they must be protected and supported at all times.”

Martins, who commended Ms. Shoneyin and the Aké Book & Arts Festival team on 10 years of running an exciting and vibrant cultural event now described as “the biggest convergence of creative Africans in the world,” added that, Sterling Bank “takes a broad view of the role of banking institutions in developing societies like ours.

When we first partnered with the festival six years ago, we knew we were entering into a special relationship. We are proud that we maintained and deepened our friendship.” He said the bank is impressed with the festival’s impact on the country’s reading culture, adding that, “Storytellers and artists occupy a critical role in the shaping of the African continent and we owe it to ourselves, and future generations, to support them in our personal, professional and national capacities.”

He observed that partnering with the Aké festival has not only helped the bank to walk the talk, but it has also enabled the management of the bank to feel the humanising and motivating effect of prioritising culture and creativity through music, art, theatre, film, and stories.

He said Sterling Bank, as an innovative entity, looks forward to the surprises, conversations, creations, diversions, and excellence that Aké Festival has become known for and remains committed to building a society that represents the best attributes of human nature. Also speaking, Director and Founder of the Ake Arts and Books Festival, Lola Shoneyin said she founded the festival in 2013 in a bid to create more spaces where African writers and artists can converge, dialogue, and interact with those who consume their work. “I believed it was important to have a well-organised literary event on Africa’s cultural calendar.

With a marvellous team and dedicated volunteers, we have been able to pull off a world-class festival in Nigeria for nine years. Even COVID-19 didn’t stop us; we swiftly adapted to the times and moved the festival online, creating the opportunity to have many more guest speakers.”

The festival has served Africa’s creative community for nine years, bringing together over a thousand writers, poets, dancers, filmmakers, artists, thinkers, and actors and featuring both emerging and established voices. She added, “Aké Festival presents a unique opportunity for local and international organisations to contribute to the preservation and promotion of African culture.

Sterling has been our backbone and it has been an honour to be associated with a trusted brand that has become known for excellence and boldness. The conversations at Aké Festival enable us to discuss issues pertaining to Africa, what it means to be African, and Africa’s relationship with the rest of the world.”

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