This year’s Lagos Book and Arts Festival (LABAF 23: 2021) has taken off with its feasts of ideas and life.

With the theme “A fork in the road”, the event, which opened on Monday and will run to this Sunday, is dedicated to stage matriarch Taiwo Ajayi-Lycett.

Organised by the Committee for Relevant Arts (CORA), it is focusing on education, enlightenment and empowerment.

Among the activities that kick-started the weeklong festival of ideas on Monday is the launch of the newest online arts and culture magazine, AnoteArtHub. It featured a panel session on publishers of art and culture blogs and magazines at 4pm.

It has as theme ‘Prospects and challenges of a culture magazine in the Nigerian arts and culture ecosystem’ and will feature some heavyweights in the online arts and culture publishing. They were Toni Kan (Publisher, lagosreview), Pelu Awofeso (Managing Editor, Travu), Okechukwu Uwaezuoke (Publisher/Editor-in-Chief, Artbeat), Tajudeen Sowole (Publisher, African Arts with Taj), and Oludamola Adebowale (Publisher/Editor, ASIRI Magazine). The session was curated by the Publisher of AnoteArtHub, Mr. Anote Ajeluorou.

According to the Programme Chair, CORA, Jahman Anikulapo, “The Lagos Book and Art Festival (LABAF), was created in 1999 to whip up enthusiasm and support for the book as a cultural item. Today, it has become a carnivalesque feast of ideas, visual and performed arts, which attract thousands of people across generational divides. The drama and dance performances, poetry skits, music and visual exhibits that feature as interludes and” after hour” sessions are always keyed to the theme, of which this year’s is: A State of Flux, Literacy in a period of Languor.”

Other events that took place on the first day, aptly tagged ‘Festival libation’, included the opening of ‘CORA Young Creative Club’, which featured workshops and performances and open earlier in the day and runs for the duration of the festival.

The day’s event included ‘African Writing: The Journey with James Currey’, readings and conversations around the newest books on the Nigerian shelf; followed by an evening of music and film screenings, featuring Dj Valentino, ‘Taiwo Ajayi-Lycett: Matriarch of the Act’ and Terh Agbedeh’s LABAF: Through their Eyes. Special guests for this programme include CORA Board members and LABAF Volunteer Corps, as well as the festival’s honoured guest, Ajayi-Lycett.

The second day of festival also featured different performances by Yussuf Durodola and Jelili Atiku, among other programmes.

The readers’ and special arthouse forums will hold today by 3pm and 6pm; while an evening of OldSkoolin’ with DJ Valentino will end the activities.

In keeping with that tradition, the Publishers Forum will hold from 10 am tomorrow at Freedom Park. It will give publishers opportunity to brainstorm on how to get books to readers across the country using bookstores and resource centres such as libraries.

It’s the 9th Publishers Forum by CORA, in conjunction with Quramo Publishing, which is advertised as ‘a convergence of publishers, book sellers, dealers, writers, and readers on developing new strategies’ for effective and wide distribution of books across the country’.