The second day of Ake Festival 2015 commenced with visits to selected public and private schools in the state capital, Abeokuta. Each school visiting group was comprised of at least two authors and a press crew composed of camera men and the social media army. Among the participating authors were Zukiswa Wanner, Siphiwo Mahala, Lola Shoneyin, (Director, Ake international Book and arts Festival, and author, the secret lives of Baba Segi’s Wives),
Mainland Book café was on ground to cover the visit of Siphiwo Mahala (When a Man Cries,) and Adeola Fayehun (Sahara Reporters) to St Peter’s College Olomore, Abeokuta. At the school , the crew was given a warm and enthusiastic welcome by the staff and students. The facilitators (Lola Shoneyin, Siphiwo Mahala, and Adeola Fayehun) took their time in imoortance of reading and writing to the students who listened with rapt attention, as the resource persons poured out their hearts to the children. In his session, Siphiwo spoke passionately about growing up in apartheid South Africa, and about learning what it was to be black , to be different, and to be segregated. In his words, in his words, “ I consider myself very foerunate that I was old enough to vote when the apartheid regime came to an end, and we voted in Mandela. It was then (after Mandela’s election that it really began to dawn on me how desperately evil and wicked Apartheid was, and the struggle to overcome the remnants is an everyday challenge)” he explained how reading, and African literature, has broadened his world view, and howhe had longed to come to Abeokuta, to Olumo rock, after reading of it in books when he was much younger. he passionately encouraged the students to broaden their world views by reading.
In her session with the students, international Journalist, and talk show host Adeola Fayehun spoke extensively about following dreams and passions, and about how it was important to give one’s best in everything one did, explaining how focus and determination has helped her in her career thus far. She spoke of the awkward moments she faced when she had to interview President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, and how she had to chase after him wielding her microphone, despite the resistance she faced from the guards of the longest serving president in Africa. She encouraged the students to have a strong drive for reading, and to begin writing as early as possible, in order to begin to hone the craft as well as possible. “If you have something that happens to you, and you don’t want to forget, just write it down, there is no law that says you can’t be a writer and anything else. There are stories inside you that the world needs to see, stories that have been shaped by your unique and particular experiences. ”
On her part, the director of the Festival, Lola Shoneyin, spoke passionately to the students about the importance of a reading culture, and why it was important thing to read a lot, regardless of the career anyone was interested in pursuing. She also shared some experiences she has as a mother, and how something her son told her inspired her to write a poem. She then read the very moving poem titled “The Head Story”.
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Ikechukwu Nwaogu is a writer, occasional poet, and playwright who lives and hustles in Lagos. An avid lover of books, reading, and poetry. He blogs at www.inkspilla.wordpress.com and tweets via @eyekaywizard[/color-box]