The Programme directorate of the annual feast of literary arts and culture, Lagos Book & Art Festival, LABAF, has released the list of ‘core’ books for the weeklong festival holding November 5-11 at Freedom Park, old Her Majesty Prison Ground, by Broad Street, Lagos.

The theme of the festival is RENEWAL: A WORLD THAT WORKS FOR ALL, and it  is primarily inspired by the need to focus on the process of rebirth as the country enters its 20th year of democracy and conducts its sixth general elections. This Festival hopes to show several points of light in a dark, pessimistic world headlined by Herdsmen killings, Boko Haram sit-ins, Biafra secession, kidnappings, and other convulsions in the polity that unsettle us all. Can we all, through books, imagine a world of better possibilities? LABAF 2018 will be spotlighting novels, poems, and dramas of opportunities, as well as non-fiction narratives about the birth and growth of successful nation states.

According to the directorate, the ‘core’ books represent only about a third of the publications that will be featured in the 20-year old festival that has been described by critics as the “biggest culture picnic on the continent’ – because of its all round, total arts features.

In all, about 42 publications covering all the literary genres (poetry, novels, drama, non-fictions etc) will feature in the festival; and these are just for the adult segment of the festival. The Festival also has a robust student/youth segment called the GREEN FESTIVAL, now in its 12th year, and co-curated with the environmental activist and founder of the Children & The Environment, Madam Sola Alamutu aka, Green Queen, which will also parade about 26 books in that festival that usually draw about 4000 students and youths to the festival ground every year.  Some of those books are written by the young ones themselves.

The core books are thus the publications around which the theme of the festival will be anchored. The books will feature in the various panels, readings and conversations that will be staged in the course of the festival.

The books are:

  1. Singapore: From Third World to First – Lee Kuan Yew – HarperCollinsPublishers, 2000/11.
  2. The Underground Railroad – Colson Whitehead – Doubleday, 2016.
  3. The Fierce Urgency of Now: Lyndon Johnson, Congress, and the Battle for the Great Society – Julian Zelizer – Penguin Press PHC, 2015.
  4. Like a Mule Bringing Ice-Cream to the Sun – Sarah Manyika – Cassava Republic, 2016.
  5. Not Without A Fight – Helen Zille – Penguin Books, 2016.
  6. The Strategy and Tactics of the People’s Republic of Nigeria – Obafemi Awolowo –Sunshine Bookseller, Ibadan, 1970/78.
  7. A Measure of Grace – Akin Mabogunje – BookBuilders Editions, Africa, 2011.
  8.  Our Father’s Land – Titus Okereke – Bookcraft, 2015.
  9.  Are We The Turning Point Generation? – Chude Jideonwo – Farafina Books, 2014.
  10. Build, Innovate and Grow (BIG): My Vision for (Nigeria) – Kingsley Moghalu – Bookcraft, 2018.
  11. Emerging Africa, How the Global Economy’s ‘Last Frontier’ Can Prosper and Matter – Kingsley Moghalu – Bookcraft, 2013.

Reiterating the core focus of the Festival, Programme chair of CORA, head of the directorate, Jahman Anikulapo,  reminded that that  “EDUCATION. LITERACY. EMPOWERMENT are at the centre of engagement by the Lagos Book & Art Festival. While noting that the festival has moved beyond being a mere  “Literary Festival” – in which case it is more attractive to only the members of the literary community; it is rather a campaign for entrenchment of Literacy and mental capacitation in the society. “Since 1999, when its birth was instigated by the desire to help prepare the Nigeria citizenry for then impending era of political freedom — a relief from decades of wastefulness by the vagabonds in warrior attire; LABAF has always insisted on being perceived as a festival of ideas with programme deliberately designed to help in deepening and widening the spread of Literacy, Knowledge Acquisition and Mental Capacitation of the people, especially the youth.”

He continued, “The LABAF was born out of a desire to help facilitate the rise of the ‘intellect’ over ‘emotion’ in the affairs of peoples of our nation. The LABAF signposted its mission with the dream to help deepen human capital development in the continent through a systematic spread of enlightenment through the written, painted, sculpted, crafted or spoken texts… that educate, enlighten, empower and develop the mind… all about erasing ignorance from the mind of men… eroding their powerlessness… wearing off their hopelessness in the capability of goodness to always trump the evil.”

 The directorate also disclosed that the famous poet, political and culture activist, Odia Ofeimun has agreed to deliver the Keynote at the formal opening of the festival on Friday November 10. He will be speaking around the theme of RENEWAL: A World that Works for All.  We looked around our various public intellectuals and there is no one whose projections and career thrust has been more committed to the idea of continuously renegotiating the current awkward socio-cultural and political system, rebuilding the falling nation, and rebirthing the notion of progressivism than the activist-poet, Odia Ofeimun. This idea is the basis of his volumes of poetry and as well his interventionist theatrical productions (mostly dance drama) that soon became a major item in the cultural production landscaping of the nation”.

Samuel Osaze                                                

Prog. Officer



Synopses of the Books


(Colson Whitehead; Doubleday; 2016)

The alternate history novel tells the story of Cora and Caesar, two slaves in the southeastern United States during the 1800s who make a bid for freedom from their Georgia plantations by following the Underground Railroad, which the novel depicts as primarily a rail transport system in addition to a series of safe houses and secret routes. The novel has received a number of awards, including the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the 2016 National Book Award for Fiction


(Kingsley Moghalu; Bookcraft; 2018)

How can Nigeria overcome its leadership capital deficit? How can women get equality in the areas of access to education, access to finance, marital protection rights, violence, and the poor ratios of representation in political and corporate leadership in Nigeria? Will the youths finally rise up and take their place at the driving wheel on our national journey into the future? How can we successfully reduce poverty and unemployment? What is the vision of Diaspora Engagement? How can we pursue a vibrant foreign policy? Can the ‘Office of the Citizen’ do its patriotic duty? How does governance in Nigeria reduce waste and inefficiency? What and who can save Nigeria? These are questions bothering on devising a new, fresh and bold vision for Nigeria that Kingsley Moghalu, a former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, and a presidential aspirant for the 2019 elections explored in his new book, Build, Innovate and Grow: My Vision for our Country.


(Akin Mabogunje; Bookbuilders. Editions Africa; 2011)

Starting as a lecturer at the University of Ibadan, Akinlawon Ladipo Mabogunje’s contributions to Nigeria have been wide-ranging… Starting as a lecturer at the University of Ibadan, Akinlawon Ladipo Mabogunje’s contributions to Nigeria have been wide-ranging. Commonly known as the Grandfather of African Geography he has participated in census taking, forest resource management, establishing a state university; planning the new federal capital, promoting rural development, land reform, housing and urban development, community banking, and poverty reduction. His poverty reduction program in Ijebu-Ode is now used as a model for empowering citizens to work together to break them out of the poverty circle, both in Nigerian and other parts of Africa.


(Sarah Ladipo Manyika; Cassava Republic; 2016)

Morayo Da Silva, a cosmopolitan Nigerian woman, lives in hip San Francisco. On the cusp of 75, she is in good health and makes the most of it, enjoying road trips in her vintage Porsche, chatting to strangers, and recollecting characters from her favorite novels. Then she has a fall and her independence crumbles. Without the support of family, she relies on friends and chance encounters. As Morayo recounts her story, moving seamlessly between past and present, we meet Dawud, a charming Palestinian shopkeeper, Sage, a feisty, homeless Grateful Dead devotee, and Antonio, the poet whom Morayo desired more than her ambassador husband. The book is powerful meditation on loss, memory, exile, and loneliness, shortlisted in September 2016 for the Goldsmiths Prize


(Kingsley Moghalu; Bookcraft; 2013)

To many, Africa is the new frontier. As the West lies battered by the financial crisis, Africa is seen as offering limitless opportunities for wealth creation in the march of globalization. But what is Africa to today’s Africans? Are its economies truly on the rise? And what is its likely future? In this pioneering book, leading international strategist Kingsley Moghalu challenges conventional wisdom about Africa’s quest for growth. Drawing on philosophy, economics, and strategy, he ranges from capitalism to technological innovation, finance to foreign investment, and from human capital to world trade to offer a new vision of transformation. Ultimately he demonstrates how Africa’s progress in the 21st century will require nothing short of the reinvention of the African mindset. A rare and timely intervention from Kingsley Chiedu Moghalu, deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, on development in Africa.


(Helen Zille; Penguin Books; 2016)

In the book, Zille details her life, from her early start as a liberal journalist and staunch opponent of apartheid to her lengthy career in local, provincial and national politics in South Africa…


(Julian Zelizer; Penguin Press PHC; 2015)

Between November 1962, when he became president, and November 1966, when his party was routed in the midterm elections, Lyndon Johnson spearheaded the most transformative agenda in American politics since the New Deal. In just three years, he drove the passage of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts, the War on Poverty, and Medicare and Medicaid, among a raft of other progressive initiatives. Dubbed the Great Society, it was an agenda whose ambition and achievement have never been matched, and it remains largely intact fifty years on. In this book, Julian E. Zelizer takes the full measure of the story in all its epic sweep. He provides unprecedented insight into the battles that raged inside Congress and the administration and examines the often bitterly divided forces at play in the country—from religious groups and civil rights activists to labor unions and the media—during the tumultuous years when political sights were set on the idea of a Great Society. This is one of those great works of historical nonfiction that will both help better understand how the political system works (or doesn’t) and develop fresh new views on history…


(Obafemi Awolowo; Sunshine Bookseller, 1970).

A follow-up to Thought on Nigerian Constitution and The People’s Republic, and the last in the series which the political sage, Chief Awolowo planned, in Calabar prison, to write on the politico-economic aspects of Nigeria’s problems, the book sets out succinctly, and in the form of imperatives or mandatory assertions:  the economic, social, as well as the political pursue from now on; the order in which these objectives must be pursued; and the institutional organizations which he (Awolowo) considers essential for the execution and attainment of the stated objectives.


(Lee Kuan Yew; HarperCollins Publishers; 2000)

The late Lee Kuan Yew was Singapore’s first prime minister, and he controversially led the 1965-founded city-state for 31 years, shepherding it from the Third World to First…  This book is worth reading, particularly by those aspiring to lead and develop third world countries.  It is the story of great achievements in the teeth of dire and daunting circumstances of an island nation bereft of material resources and surrounded by unfriendly neighbors – a puny island, whose population was so ethnically, culturally and religiously divided that the inevitable mistrust and suspicions bred recurring conflicts.  Managing such diversity always poses monumental challenges to the leadership of the country, and so it did in Singapore.


(Titus Okereke; Bookcraft; 2015)

This is another simple chronicled travelogue of Titus Okereke that has reviewed the events that intertwined with the historic civil war and lessons afterward… Professor Titus Okereke has written an excellent book even if at times it is an unhappy book. His own irrepressible personality shines through the book – he is a friendly man, a thoughtful person who is willing at times to follow the consequences of his thinking. Most people think but allow circumstances to dictate their action. Not so Titus. The book is delightful as it takes us through his first thoughts – not of Ajalli but of a two days water trip to Sapele where he grew up.


(Chude Jideonwo; Farafina Books; 2014)

Why do many Nigerian leaders ‘change’ once in office? Will the present generation of Nigerians do any better than its predecessors? Was ‘Occupy Nigeria’ indeed a failure? Do we need a ‘Nigerian Dream’? Is ‘One Nigeria’ really worth it? These and many other difficult questions are raised in this thought-provoking collection of essays on the paradox that is Nigeria. This book embodies the voice of a new breed of Nigerians willing to take a stand and do things differently. It promises to inspire a new way of thinking, posing a challenge to Nigerians, young and old, to ‘pick a spot, and start digging’! Written with the keenness of youth but earnest and wise beyond its years, Are We the Turning Point Generation? will resonate with young Nigerians while remaining relatable to previous generations.

Chude is one of those who has bent their backs to do the heavy lifting needed to create open spaces for Nigerian youth…