The official welcome ceremony of the Ake festival began on Thursday with an introduction by Arit Okpo who apologized for the delay. As expected the cultural center was filled to the brim and guests and visitors from fourteen countries all over the world. Celeste enthralled everyone with her rendition of the Nigerian anthem and before the audience could sit Adunni and Nerfetiti group continued with the Abeokuta anthem which ended with applause.
When Lola hailed the people by their country they yelled back and the hall thundered except for when Gambia was called and a lone woman’s voice yelled in reply, throwing the hall into a fit of laughter. Yvonne Chioke, Managing Director of Vlisco in Nigeria called Adebola Rayo to the stage to award her for her work in mental health, Kikelomo Woleosho for her work in using her experience to help victims of sexual abuse, her excellency Mrs. Hadiza El-Rufai for her work in mentoring young people in creative arts, Mona Eltahawy for her work in promoting women's rights and LGBT rights, Kadaria Ahmed for her work in journalism and honored Ama Ata Aidoo for pioneering literature by African female writers. Okanu Ibeanu, manager of high events and sponsorhip for 9mobile announced that even though the brand name had changed the company still remained commited to the propagation of literature on the continent amd would release it's 9mobile literature prize shortlist in December. Linda Okondo, Communications manager of Coca Cola gave a goodwill message and talked about the company's work in bettering the lives of women. Representatives from First Bank, Sterling Bank, Nigeria Breweries and Peugeot gave welcome addresses, emphasizing their partnership and history with the Book Buzz foundation, organizers of Ake Festival.
Molara Wood presented the new issue of the annual Ake Review, giving a brief prevew of the magazine. After a speech on speculative fiction by Geoff Ryman Nnedi Okorafor was invited to present the winners for the Nommo Awards. Professor Kola Arogundade accepted the prize for best comic for 'The Corpse Exhibition' by Chronic, Tendai Huchu and Leslie Arimah both won best speculative fiction for their short stories 'The Marriage Plot' and 'Who Will Greet You At Home' respectively,Tade Thompson won best speculative fiction novel for 'Rosewater' while Nnedi Okorafor won the Nommo for best speculative fiction novella for her 'Binti'. Then Safurat Balogun, head of information and Library for Goethe Institute awarded two participants of their recently concluded Lagos-Limbe exchange program- Sada Malumfashi from Nigeria and Nkiacha Atemnkeng from Cameroon- with three month writing residencies in Germany with the Sylt Foundation.
Lola Shoneyin gave everyone a hearty welcome before inviting the Deputy Governor Her Excellency Mrs. Yetunde Onanuga to welcome everyone to the state on behalf of the Governor Senator Ibikunle Amosun and the ceremony was officially open.