Ake Festival - French presence

During the 4th Ake Arts and Book Festival which took place in Abeokuta in November 15-19, 2016, Nigerian audiences got the opportunity to interact with French writers.

Every year, a very important cultural festival is organized in Abeokuta (South-west of Nigeria), birhplace of Wolé Soyinka, first African Nobel Prize winner. Ake Arts and Book Festival is organized by the Nigerian writer Lola Shoneyin whose novel, The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives, has been published in France by Actes Sud.

The Ake festival has welcomed more than 300 writers and artists coming from Africa and the rest of the word. Among the guests this year was Kenyan literary icon Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, Noviolet Bulawayo, Helon Habila and Teju Cole.

In the last four years, the Ake festival has organised more than 200 high-quality events which include book chats, panel discussions, concerts, photo and art exhibitions, film and documentary screenings, stage plays and poetry performances. Through physical visits and online interaction on the livestream platform, Ake Festival was enjoyed by over 23,000 people. The numbers increase each year.

School visits took place in Ogun State. The writers explained their work to the pupils and presented books to the schools as gifts. Marguerite Abouet and Alain Mabanckou had opportunities to talk in front of classes. Marguerite Abouet spoke in French and her words were translated into English and Yoruba.

This was the first time Alain Mabanckou was visiting Nigeria for a festival. In Abeokuta, he delivered speeches in front of large crowds, sometimes of up to 500 people. Mabanckou was also on a panel in French, with another French writer, Marguerite Abouet. All the conferences were filmed and people had access to the livestream, on the Ake Festival Youtube channel. These discussions can still be accessed for free on the Ake Festival website and also on the Ake festival Youtube channel.

This was writer and filmmaker Marguerite Abouet’s first trip to Nigeria. Her first movie Aya de Yopougon (nominated for the Cesars) was screened. It was presented in French with English subtitles. Aya de Yopougon was very successful during the festival. Over 400 people watched the movie which is an adaptation of the graphic novel Aya de Yopougon published by Gallimard and which has sold more than one million copies. Marguerite Abouet and Alain Mabanckou trip was sponsored by the French Embassy and French Institute.

Hissène Habré: une tragédie tchadienne, a documentary made by Mahamat Saleh Haroun, selected at the 2016 Cannes Festival, has been seen by more than 500 people. Clément Abaifouta, the human right activist who is the main character in the movie was present. He explained, in French, the movie project. Clément Abaifouta was invited in Nigeria to present this documentary and talk about the harrowing years of his imprisonment during Hissene Habre’s regime.

Marguerite Abouet and Alain Mabanckou books were available for purchase in French and in English. Their books were sold out. Marguerite Abouet and Alain Mabanckou have expressed the wish to come back as soon as possible in the most populous African country to attend Ake Festival again.

The French media houses, RFI and France 24, were sponsors of Ake Festival. The French Embassy and the European Union Delegation were also partners. Other French companies such as Peugeot, Air France or Lafarge were also Ake Festival sponsors and they feature in Ake Review, a multilingual Arts journal that is published annually and launched at Ake Festival.

The Ake festival give a great visibility to French culture through media houses and writers. During former editions, other French and francophone authors have been invited. Among them are writers Véronique Tadjo, Florent Couao-Zotti and Marcus Boni Teiga. French filmmakers who have attended Ake Festival include Emmanuelle Mougne and Thierry Michel. In the future, Ake Festival will continue to provide good exposure of French and francophone culture in Nigeria.

the festival Website
the Ake review
Youtube channel of the festival

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Conference of Marguerite Abouet and Alain Mabanckou

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Conference of Marguerite Abouet and Alain Mabanckou

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Screening of Aya de Yopougon

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Marguerite Aboué et the French delegation in Ake Festival

Dernière modification : 07/12/2016

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