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Education, literacy, empowerment… Heart of programming concept at LABAF 2018


Preparations have reached conclusive stages for this year’s Lagos Book and Art Festival (LABAF), the Committee for Relevant Art, CORA, promoters of the festival yesterday affirmed. The 20th anniversary edition of the festival holds from November 5 to 11 at their traditional base, Freedom Park, by Broad Street, Lagos Island.

The 2018 feast starts with a forum tagged, Leaders as readers, the event holds on Wednesday, November 7 at 5pm. The first in the series holds at Kongi’s Harvest Art Gallery, Freedom Park, Lagos. The theme is, Leaders as readers: Why I read what I read.The guests are, Taofeek Adegbite, MD/CEO, Marine Platforms Limited; Adenike Adeyemi, Executive Director, FATE Foundation and Tony Attah; CEO/MD, Nigeria LNG.

Adegbite is one of Africa’s inspirational and influential leaders. He is a major contributor to global discourse on local content. He equally engages his time in public speaking where he addresses issues on critical economic areas, entrepreneurship; and inspires budding entrepreneurs across Africa and beyond.

Attah, before current assignment as managing director of Nigeria LNG, had served as the Vice President of Bonny Gas Transport. He was managing director of Shell Nigeria E & P Company SNEPCo, Vice President HSE and Corporate Affairs, Vice President Human Resources (HR) as well as other technical and non-technical roles in operations and major projects, including the Head of Joint Venture Economics in the commercial function.

Adeyemi, on her part, has 15 years of work experience. She had worked as Engagement Manager in KPMG. Adenike currently chairs the Nigerian MSME Council’s Special Committee on Improving the regulatory Environment for MSMEs. The moderator is Dr. Reuben Abati, a journalist and ex-chairman, The Guardian editorial board. Between 2000 and 2011, Abati was a co-presenter of the television discussion programme, Patito’s Gang, and now Lead anchor on Arise TV.

The event proper starts on Friday, November 9, with a mentoring session, themed, The Book In My Life/My Encounter With Book. An open air, TedEx kind of talk, in which a celebrity known to be both jovial and cerebral, addresses a gathering of young Nigerians on what books have done to his or her life. This is CORA’s prime Mentoring project to increase mental capacitation of the young ones, and prepare them for a life of meaningful engagement with the written text.

The event was created to mentor children about the values of literacy. Over the 20 editions of LABAF, this major children/youth segment has featured such distinguished Nigerians as Africa’s first Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka; Pat Utomi, professor of the social environment of business at the Pan African University; Femi Osofisan, the country’s top playwright and professor of Theatre Arts; the irreverent Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah; Nollywood veterans Richard Mofe Damijo and Joke Silva and the path breaking comedian Ali Baba, among several others. This year’s guests are Kate Henshaw and Lanre Fasasi aka Sound Sultan.

While Henshaw’s session holds on Friday, November 9, it will be Sound Sultan’s time on Saturday.Rebuilding Nigeria: An Intergenerational Dialogue will also hold on Saturday, November 10, at Kongi’s Harvest Art Gallery at 5.00pm. Titled, What was the Plan? it features Prof. Akin Mabogunje, 85, author of A Measure of Grace, and Titus Okereke, 76, author of Our Father’s Land. At the symposium, there is going to be an interface with those born 30 to 10 years before independence.A second part of the symposium features Chude Jideonwo, author of Are We The Turning Point Generation?; Eghosa Imasuen, author of To St Patrick and
Abubakar Adam, author of Seasons of Crimsons Blossoms. The interface is with those born 15 to 20 years after independence. Moderator is Kunle Ajibade, Executive Director, The News Magazine.

Programme chair of the frontline culture advocacy group, CORA, Jahman Anikulapo, reiterated that the festival “was born out of a desire to help facilitate the rise of the ‘intellect’ over ‘emotion’ in the affairs of peoples of our nation.” He added, “LABAF signposted its mission with the dream to help deepen human capital development in the continent through a systematic spread of enlightenment through the written, painted, sculpted, crafted or spoken texts… that educate, enlighten, empower and develop the mind… all about erasing ignorance from the mind of men… eroding their powerlessness… wearing off their hopelessness in the capability of goodness to always trump the evil.

On what to expect at the book feast, Anikulapo, a trained performing artist, culture advocate/communicator and former newspaper editor, who has been director of the festival since inception, stated: “At CORA, we are more focused on the mind and mental development of the people of Africa, so they can proudly take their seat at the globalization discourse. We believe that this can only be accomplished through mass literary, using the instrumentality of the arts.”

He said, “significantly, the Book (knowledge and mental empowerment) must, going forward, be installed as the weapon of our engagement with the malfeasance that abound in global political arena. Education must be our shield against the acidic rain that hover above our collective consciousness due to the irresponsibility and irascibility of political and economic actors locally, and globally. Mental and mind development must be our wall against the reign of leprous beings that often/have appropriate(d) our collective consciousness. So, as you come to the festival ground, just remember that the BOOK is the megastar at the LABAF… the writer is as big as the idea contained his/her Book.”

Explaining further on the advocacy mission of the 27-year old CORA, he said, “For us at CORA, the core of our very vision and mission is the protection, and implicitly, the sustenance and survival of our/the human race. We insist that no Human is greater than the Other. All are created equal, except where extraneous circumstances dictate that some are better privileged than the others; and such who could exploit such privilege to oppress the non-so-privileged. Essentially, the first instrument of oppression of the ‘lowly’ by the so-called high and mighty is the hoarding of such essential civilising tools as Education, which ensures that important information circulates to all; Empowerment (mental and economical) which ensures that everyone is capacitated to be able to fully explore his/her potentials, and exploit same for his self-benefit and mutual benefit of his/her family and the community.

“The CORA insists that what the community of Humans needs is the flourishing and flowering of Literacy to/and among every member of the Human family; so they are well resourced to participate effectively in the conversations that affect their common interest; and the general wellbeing of the society. This is the way to deepen democratic values and guarantee that all will be effective participants in decision-making processes that lead to collective good, and better nationhood.

“This is why we insist on an open air fest of Ideas and Life, where every member of the community is a partaker; and an active actor in the socialisation process. This is the creed of our engagement at the programming directorate of the LABAF, which is running into its 20th anniversary on a blaze of glory. This edition is an extension of the ideas that we have pursued in recent editions of the festival that we love to claim as the “biggest cultural picnic on the continent…”

The theme for the 2018 festival, Renewal: Towards a World that Works for All, follows in the trajectory of the mission and vision of the festival, which is one of the longest running cultural/artistic project in the country. The theme is primarily inspired by the need to focus on the process of rebirth as the country enters its 20th year of democracy and conducts its sixth general elections. This Festival hopes to show several points of light in a dark, pessimistic world headlined by Herdsmen killings, Boko Haram sit-in, Biafra secession, kidnappings, and other convulsions in the polity that unsettle us all. Can we all, through books, imagine a world of better possibilities? LABAF 2018 will be spotlighting novels, poems, and dramas of opportunities, as well as non-fiction narratives about the birth and growth of successful nation states.

In all, the festival, which on its 18th edition two years ago expanded from its usual three-day programing to a full week-long affair, will feature about 51 events, including live book readings, panel discussions, conversations, authors’ assembly, publishers’ forum, colloquium, symposiums, seminars, drama, music concert, film screening, exhibitions as well as children and students creative sessions. To ensure stronger focus on its main mission – deepening the culture of reading and engagement with the written text to increase literacy level and knowledge acquisition, the festival is spotlighting four panels – Mentoring (for children and youths), Leaders as Readers featuring leaders in business circuit sharing their joy of reading. Three other panels focusing on Processes of Nation Building, another core objective of the festival, will have the famous poet and political activist, Odia Ofeimun, deliver the festival keynote; an intergenerational dialogue between older and younger Nigerians; and another on Processes of Change.

Source: G Entertainment

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