Sterling Bank Plc, Nigeria’s leading financial institution, has said it is committed to supporting the annual Ake Books and Arts Festival because it sees Nigeria as part of a larger world and believes that Nigeria’s ultimate competitiveness lies in its energy.
Executive Director at Sterling, Yemi Odubiyi, who disclosed this over the weekend in a goodwill message at the opening of the 10th edition of the Ake Books and Arts Festival said Nigeria can become a leader in the world and its creative people as part of its competitiveness.
Odubiyi continued by saying that “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.”
Also speaking, Founder and Director of Ake Books and Arts 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.”
She said ‘Homecoming’ 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”.
She said, 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. Adding that this moment, this feeling, is what has kept them going.
The Founder 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 said.
Shoneyin thanked the winner of the 2021 Nobel Prize for Literature, Professor Abdulrazaq Gurnah and his wife, Professor Denise Gurnah for honoring the invitation to attend the festival in person. She also thanked 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.