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>Memory Room



The Ake Arts and Book Festival is delighted to present highlights of the British Library’s major exhibition, ‘West Africa: Word, Symbol, Song’, in a new digital edition.

Held in 2015–16 in London, West Africa: Word, Symbol, Song was hailed as a ‘landmark exhibition’ which ‘exploded the myth of the dark continent’ (Nigerian Watch). The exhibition focused on how, for centuries, West African writers, scholars and musicians have used the power of words to build societies, engage in politics, communicate religious beliefs, fight injustice and enslavement, and create art.

Presented in partnership with the British Library, digital highlights and the unforgettable sounds of the exhibition can be experienced at the Ake Arts and Book Festival 2018, taking place at Radisson Blu Hotel, (2nd Floor) Isaac John Street, Ikeja, Lagos.

Visit the Memory Room – open throughout the festival – to experience the history and complexity of writing, symbolic communication and oral literatures in West Africa and its diaspora. You’ll hear recordings from the British Library’s sound collections, including Fela Kuti’s grandfather and an Ifa text sung by 35 babalawo in 1965. At the viewing points, you’ll see on-screen highlights from the British Library’s collections (and from some UK museums). There will be glimpses of West Africa’s Islamic manuscript heritage, and of remarkable historical writings by Africans like Samuel Johnson and Ignatius Sancho. Explore, too, the richness of graphic systems in West Africa.