If there’s one thing about the last quarter of the year in Nigeria, it is that you are served a thrill of literary dishes from every corner. For this year, there has been so many festivals; Jos Presents A Field of Echoes (organised by Custodians of Arts Literature featuring amu nnadi and a few of us others), The Lagos International Poetry Festival (Efe Paul led), The Lagos Book and Arts Festival, The Association of Nigerian Authors’ convention in Kaduna, Aké Festival, The WRR Fist of Words just held in Ibadan. Yeah, somewhere there, we had our SEVHAGE festival and yup, it was draining.
So, we had the SEVHAGE Literary Festival here in Makurdi on October 16th to 17th [literary days] at Ejja Hotel and Suites. It was so much fun! Now, we didn’t have the Makurdi mammoth crowd coming but we had some fun time. Wow! amu nnadi, the amazing poet, drove all the way from Port Harcourt and was of tremendous support all the way.
I had my siblings coming from different areas: TJ Benson from Taraba, Servio Gbadamosi and Tope Adegoke Mark from Ibadan alongside Romeo Ogun da Silva from that axis… Innocence Silas and Bash Amuneni came from Abuja, and KIS Kukogho Iruesiri Samson found love compelling his feet to Makurdi. Everyone had an amazing adventure and we will put each up soon.
Debbie Iorliam, Celina Kile, Ene Odaba, Otene Ogwuche, Sibbyl Whyte, Anselm Ngutsav, Afrika Ocho, and my right hand men, Aondosoo Andrew Labe and Tersoo Ayede were around to make things amazing. Sefa Ikpa, Felicia Okpo, my brother, Gabriel Agema, our SEVHAGE author, Terseer Baki was there too, adding colour. Nelson Apochi of Reading4Change taught me how to Tweet live. I used Anselm’s phone to learn. Oh! That was fun.
So, we shall do a small snippet… In the week of our festival, we went to the National Library to donate books; we went to an orphanage gave books and ‘milk’; we went to prison too and gave books and ‘recharge card’. Hee hee hee! It was fun at all the places and trust me, I could write a story about that. Oh, that was on 14th and 15th.
We had two days of events on 16th and 17th. Some guests didn’t turn up but we had a morning session on rape. We had guest panelists including Mrs Victoria Daaor, Oryinashater Gaai, Lazarus Mom, and Tersoo Ayede. It was moderated by Otene Ogwuche. Within that session, we had a spoken word drama too… Can you imagine it? A full spoken word drama! It was really nice. I have to give it up for Ene Odaba who put it all up. Ciara, her friend, did well in that play too. Celina Kile dazzled everyone with a spoken word performance on rape…and went on to give at least one performance for every session throughout the festival. We had two other sessions including a discussion in the afternoon moderated by Anselm Ngutsav and a night of awesome performances moderated by Ocho Afrika and Ene Odaba.
On the second day, Saturday 17th October, 2015… we woke up in the hotel to lots of gist. We took a stroll; Debbie, TJ Benson, Romeo, Innocence, myself…to get a meal. It was beer (boiled grilled millet) and akpukpa (boiled grounded beans). Bla bla bla… Morning session was mainly moderated by TJ Benson. There was a talk on publishing and writing led by Servio Gbadamosi, myself and a few others. It was interactive. After this, amu nnadi took his turn talking (continuing from his contributions to the earlier talk) by talking on ‘Making Poetry Count’. He gave many key points but said one shouldn’t really hope to make money from writing. He cited many examples including how he tried to get his book published traditionally but with little success. ‘Poetry doesn’t sell’… As a publisher, I have an idea of this. Sha, amu nnadi went on to say if one wanted to make money, it would be easier to get it from selling fuel (which he once did)… One anecdote to the other. Ah! The man get head – and heart. After that session, I took over the moderation and we had readings from people like Swem Peter Abayol, Romeo, Terna Ortese, Sam Ogabidu, Innocence… Celina Kile and Bash Bashiru Amuneni rounded it all off with amazing spoken word pieces. The latter performed some from his ‘Freedom’ album. You really should try getting the album to buy o… Bash is something else. Amazing guy…
In between, amu nnadi bought snacks for everyone. Then, TJ Benson and Debbie led an excursion to the Benue river. Ah… It was lovely. There are some amazing pictures to show for that event… we will get them out later.
In the evening, we started our session by 5:00pm and had many laughs, poking fun at each other. My brother, Gabriel was around and we teased on much. Guests like Terseer Sam Baki (recently shortlisted for the ANA Prize for Poetry 2015), Felicia Okpo, God’sgift Jozef Ike, among all the others were top participators. We read and also played some active games. There were performances that left people smiling from spoken word to ordinary poems and short stories… Terna Ortese, Ocho Afrika and I moderated…Somewhere along the line, KIS [Kukogho Iruesiri Samson] came. There were those who started to shake, thinking he was going to cause trouble. I told them they don’t know KIS or pops [amu nnadi]. Two of them aren’t the brash type.. amu nnadi walked in and went straight to hug KIS and all was well… The sun smiled 🙂
Then, the night called and we all moved on to the end of the event… at least in name only. The gist continued o… I wouldn’t tell you that some of the guys slept in the ladies rooms… but I can tell you that KIS and I talked till 3am when he slept. I couldn’t sleep, so I went down to the hall where we had had the events. I got a book ‘Beast of No Nation’ from Servio’s stock and read for long.
Morning came…and we had our first guests leaving. We made noise for long, hugged, talked, hugged more…then somehow had to leave the hotel. Interestingly, everyone remaining flowed to my cabin. Yes, and the fun thing is the gist continued…after a lot of more photos. What more do I say? Eventually, Monday found some people leaving and others on Tuesday… We went to the museum, visited NTA and the river plus others. But let me not bore you with those… 😉
NOTE: all through, far more kept being done.
Alright, you have an idea now.
Thanks to everyone who came and those who supported in whatever way they did. Thanks to Kunle Kasumu, Seun Odukoya…and amu nnadi, for everything.
Let me rest myself a bit. Phew! Tired …
So, we look forward to next year’s own which hopes to be better. I do hope to meet you there. Cheers!
– Su’eddie Vershima Agema