The literary festival season is upon us and this year’s was opened by the Lagos International Poetry Festival #LIPFEST2016. The festival, currently in its second year, had amazing poets from all over Africa and beyond.
Tagged Paging the future, #LIPFEST2016 had about 30 poets including Ladan Osman, Shailja Patel, Inua Ellams, Dike Chukwumerije, Titilope Sonuga, Afurakan, Mandi “Poefficient” Vundla, Adrian “Diff” van Wyk, Pieter Odiendaal, Poetra Asantewa, Sonny Kwaku, Chika Jones, Dami Ajayi, Uzo Maxim Uzoatu Ola Opesan, KỌ́LÁ TUBỌ̀SÚN,Jumoke Verrisimo, and Wana Udobang
The festival kicked off with master classes facilitated by the amazing Titilope Sonuga, Osman Ladan and Inua Ellams who later headlined the Rhythm And Party (RAP) party.
The RAP party was held at the White Space on Raymond Njoku Street in Ikoyi and started around 8pm. Ellams brought all of his energy and witty lines to the stage. Director of the festival, Efe Paul Azino, opened the floor with his famous this is not a political poem, about life, brothers, peace, war, and tribes. Bash Amuneni’s performed his poem, ‘Please Don’t Ask Me Why’ to the soft rhythm of Blessing Tangban’s guitar strings. This was followed by mind-blowing performances by Ladan Osman, a US-based Somalian poet, Titilope Sonuga, Sage Hassan, Wana Udobang, Poetra Asantewa and Chika Jones.
The official opening ceremony of the festival took place the next day at Freedom Park, and the festival marked Lagos @50 in a unique way as directed by Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka. 50 poems by 50 poets on Lagos were blown into life-sized images and placed around the venue.
LIP celebrated Lagos @50 by starting the event with poetry by a Yoruba poet, Pelumi, along with a little poet called Small Mighty, the lad would give Olamide a run for his money. Again, Efe Paul set the pace for the night with a poem he performed for his tribe/those who smuggled out their truths on toilet paper and wrote back from exile/telling us there was a country. Chika Jones performed his Lagos will teach you, and Dami Ajayi recited his I Know What Lagos Does to Dreams. Abuja based poet, Ogaga Ofowodu gave one of the best performance of the night.
Panel discussions illuminated the theme of the festival. The first panel, moderated by Tade Ipadeola discussed 50 years of poetry in Africa. The panel was made up of Peter Akinlabi, Niran Okewole, Ogaga Ifowodo, Gbenga Adesina, and Uzor Maxim. It was Kenyan poet, Shailja Patel, who pointed out to the absence of women on the panel, accusing panelists of ignoring female contribution to poetry in Africa. The next panel was an all-woman panel, Sister Outsider, moderated by Wana Udobang. Those on the panel Shailja Patel, Ladan Osman, Mandi Vundla, and Titilope Sonuga.
Sister Outsider gave way for Womanifesto which held at the Agip recital hall, in Muson Centre. In Womanifesto, only female poets graced the stage. Womanifesto was headlined by the amazing Titilope Sonuga. It was an evening of breathing with hands held high in the black power sign, an evening of finger snapping to perfect rhythms and soul-searing lines. Renowned Kenya poet, Shailja Patel, delivered poems on what it meant to be a woman, to be white, to love a brown girl.
Mundi Vundla performed several poems, her poem about South Africa being the rape city of the world left the audience numb. Ladan Osman gave the laughs for the evening when she performed a Somalian curse poem. Wana Udobang performed her poem on domestic abuse, Love is, and her now famous You will not be cat fish, they will not choose you as they choose me, point and kill.
Poetra Asantewa brought all of the feels from Ghana. She performed five heart-wrenching poems, on love, and betrayal, on self-love and sacrifice.
Womanifesto closed with a performance by rap star, Pryse. Pryse started her performed with a cover of King Kong, where she called herself Queen Kong, before performing her own song, the bosseses, a slang she coined for women who are breaking glass ceilings and doing things all by themselves.
Last day of the festival began with panels that led to the festival concert at MUSON Centre. The festival concert was headlined by, Adrian “Diff” van Wyk who brought so much energy to the audience. Every poet who was invited to the festival performed at the concert. Dike Chukwumwerije gave a hilarious performance when he did his humorous poem about keeping seats for the family of the couples at weddings. Sage Hassan read a poem he wrote on the love-hate relationship he has with Lagos, then he recited a poem on Marriage and Sex. What is marriage but a mere license to f**k?
Neo Muyanga was the only musician for the night. He did two amazing songs of lamentations, songs he said he performs for those protesting all over the world. The poetry concert brought the LIP 2016 to an end. Guests were treated to a trip on Sunday to the historical city of Badagry
Although so many of the events started behind schedule, and they were some organisational troubles, the Lagos International Poetry festival 2016 was a success. We await LIPfest 2017, hoping for a bigger and better festival.
Well done, Efe Paul Azino and team
Watch Wana Udobang