On Saturday, 3rd of December 2016, a sea of feet gathered at the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan, Oyo state, to celebrate words. It was the Words Rhymes & Rhythm Literary Festival – Feast of Words 2016, and the number of young literature and arts enthusiasts who were in attendance was indeed phenomenal and unprecedented
Feast of Words 2016 came with a sense of belonging, family-ness and greater sense of unity between writers. It was most certainly a unique avenue for the younger generation of Nigerian writers, who came from every cranny of the country, to connect in the real world.
The festival theme, ‘Words in a Season of Change’, was roundly examined during the engaging discussion session which followed the enthralling welcome speech by WRR CEO Kukogho Iruesiri Samson. The Keynote address by Emma Inedu gave deep insight into the role of writers in bringing about change in their societies. In his usual simple way, PIN Director/Founder Eriata Oribhabor left guests with deep thoughts with his short speech and submissions about the purpose of poetry. Guest Speaker, Ghanian poet and engineer, Oppong Clifford Benjamin, gave a brilliant lecture about writing, relationship with the world and how he broke grounds.
In the open mic sessions, poets spilled words with poetry and spoken words. The talented performers thrilled the audience, got them squirming in their seats as they cheered, tapped their fingers, stamped their while alternating between standing and sitting – all out of excitement.
The book reading session featured four of the best Nigerian Poets – Funke Awodiya (Farmer’s Daughter), Ayoola Goodness (Meditations), Su’eddie Verissima Agema (Bring Our Caskets Home), and Servio Gbadamosi (A tributary in Servitude). The session was as engaging as it was humorous, intense, question filled and deep. Ayoola trilled the audience with his witty and sarcastic collection of poems and Funke shared of her brilliance, even as the title of Su’eddie’ collection spoke deep poetry to the audience. He took the crowd through a journey of love to life and realities while serenading two members of the audience. Servio, winner of the 2015 ANA Poetry Book Prize, also delivered in style.
The book unveiling and award sessions were the high points of the festival with about 100 poets receiving honors. Each of the 80 monthly winners of the Brigitte Poirson Poetry Contest 2016 was awarded with a book and a certificate. The newly published WRR-Green Authors Prize authors – Mesioye, Sabuke, Bilabi and Hussani were awarded 100 copies of their book, Rainbows & Fireflies, and certificates. Eriata Oribhabor Poetry Prize 2016 winners – Frank Eze, Madu Kingdavid and Famuwagun Festus, got N50,000, N20,000 and N10,000 respectively, as well as their certificates, while the winner of the 2016 Albert Jungers Poetry Prize, Kanyinsola Olorunnisola got a certificate and a Lenovo device.
The session was followed by a musical interlude that went with sales at the book stands. Photographs were taken, writers networked and felicitated with each other, while exploring their free copies of the Brigitte Poirson Poetry Contest anthology of winning entries, Loops of Hope.
It was the African night session of the festival, with the Palm wine, Fish and exhilarating performances, that gave the Words Rhymes & Rhythm Literary Festival – Feast of Words 2016 an remarkable distinctiveness from other festivals in Nigeria. The performances in this session ranged from poetry to drama to music to more poetry before it was all dance, dance and more dance.
Of a truth, the Feast of Words 2016 is beyond words. As the official photographer, my eyes saw it all, albeit through the lens of my camera…
– Adedayo Adeyemi Agarau, author of FOR BOYS WHO WENT