We’re going to Ake! We’re going to Ake! Cha-cha-cha, cha-cha-cha, we’re going to Ake! The celebratory tone is set for this year’s Ake festival and I am super excited about spending a whole week in Abeokuta. This is the African literature festival of the year people with all my favorite authors and literary heavyweights.

The Ake team have put together several panel discussions starting from Thursday November 17. It turns out that some have been scheduled concurrently, so you need a plan. Here are the panel discussions I will be attending.

Make sure you subscribe to the blog for more posts especially on Ake. We are about to make this a November to remember in Abeokuta!

Thursday, November 17 at Ake

After the welcome ceremony, the first panel discussion I will be attending features Lidudu Mqombothi, Rayo Adebola, and Petina Gappah. Rayo and I share some Twitter love and Petina is Bae especially after reading her “This week in Fiction” feature with Deborah Treisman of The New Yorker. The theme is on Mental Health and I know it is going to be an eye-opener.

For the love of French and translation in general, I would be glued in to the conversation between Alain Mbanckou and Marguerite Abouet. Alain is a French literature superstar with more than 10 novels under his belt and several poem collections. Pierre Cherrrua will be moderating the discussion on crossing Anglo/Franco borders in literature. He will also be screening Abouet’s film, Aya de Yopougon on Tuesday evening.

Friday, November 18 at Ake

Women in Post Boko Haram is a heavy weight topic to start the weekend with. Still, I am eager to listen to what Eat the Heart of the Infidel author, Andrew Walker has to say. Fati Abubakar who documents life in Borno is also on this panel. Kadaria Ahmed is the moderator.

I really, really want to listen in on the panel on new fiction from Zimbabwe. No Violet Bulawayo, Tendai Huchu, and Panashe Chigunmedzi are the panelists. Alas! It clashes with the festival of short films. Therefore, this is going to be a tough one. So, if you see someone in brown and black long curls shuttling between two spaces at Kuto Centre on Friday, you know why.

Saturday, November 19 at Ake

We will say good morning to Ngugi Wa Thiong’o. There will be two other panelists, Kunle Ajibade and Chris Anyanwu. The discussion is on prison stories and literature of resistance. The gorgeous Molara Wood is the moderator and Chris Abani, author of Becoming Abigail will also be in conversation.

Jennifer Makumbi, author of the Commonwealth Winning Story, “Let’s Tell this Story Properly” will discuss historical fiction in Africa with Moroccan born Laila Lalami, and Petina Gappah. I admire the writing style of these 3 women and know they will deliver on several points.

For my last panel discussion, what better topic to listen on than home, place, and displacement. The tagline of this blog is, “a journey to find home through literature and travel”. So, this is a perfect match. I like the panelist mix too: Teju Cole, Yewande Omotoso, and Sarah Ladipo Manyika. They are all African writers that create in the diaspora, but touch on topics relevant to home. I can’t wait for this one.

There you have it. A round-up of the panel discussions I would be paying close attention to. Which of these authors or panelists mentioned above would you like to learn more about? Let me know and we can make it happen.


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