By Solomon Elusoji
Is the recently concluded Ake Arts and Book festival the biggest literary festival in Africa? There is the palpable ambiguity that follows such a question. After six days of literary and artistic discussions and events, has the festival left guests and participants thrilled or left them grabbing their stomachs, reeling from indigestion? The answer in one sentence: It is the biggest thing to have happened to Nigerian literature for quite a while.
Like a snail withdrawing from its shell, the festival did not start at a high tempo. Obviously, going by the schedule for the festival, it was supposed to start like that. It was a perfect strategy. Lacking a cluster of events, the first two days allowed guests who had travelled from far and wide settle into the festival venue (Abeokuta). It was all about building momentum, then trying to sustain it.
By the third day, momentum had increased, and this was where the festival started to shed off its amoebic structure. The events increased. Festivities multiplied. And having adapted well to their new environment, benefitting from the relaxed mode of the last two days, guests were prepared to take it all in, and carefully navigate their interests and concerns. It was a pyramid structure, and it worked well.