• To Celebrate Life and times of recently departed members of the arthouse

The 2019 Lagos Book & Art Festival holding November 4-10 at Freedom Park, Lagos, will honor select individuals whose contributions to the arts and culture sector of the economy have been adjudged worthy of celebration.

The 21st edition of the annual feast, often referred to as “the biggest culture picnic on the continent” will treat the theme EMERGE: Breaking into the NEW. The theme is considered a natural sequel to the themes of the past two editions of the festival: ERUPTIONS: Global Fractures and the Our Common humanity (2017) and RENEWAL: Towards a World that Works for All (2018).  EMERGE… is premised on the notion of breaking free from the shackles of social, political, economic and cultural factors that inhibit the progress of the individual and the nation. Ostensibly, the theme will reflect on obstacles to the process of nation building, and human capital development – two concepts central to the philosophy of the Committee for Relevant Art, CORA, and, which have consistently formed the core of the objective of LABAF since its birth in 1999 to mark the return of Nigeria to democratic governance after over three decades of military regimes. The thematic thrust of the 31-odd events that will feature in the week-long festival will thus examine issues around 20 years of Nigeria’s democracy; the shifting political events and discourses around the continent; as well as development in/around global politics.

The celebration event is captured as an ‘ARTHOUSE PARTY’ celebrating landmark birthdays of distinguished contributors to the Nigerian cultural scene, and will this year honour 14 individuals – in the different disciplines of the arts led by Africa’s most eminent and laurelled culture figure, Wole Soyinka, the 1986 Nobel laureate in Literature, who clocks 85 in July..

The party will hold in the evening of Saturday, November 9 in the Owambe ambience of the FoodCourt of the festival village, Freedom Park, Lagos Island.



WOLE SOYINKA at 85 (July)

Playwright, poet, essayist, theatre artiste, and polemicist, the 1986 Nobel laureate winner is a global cultural and political activist, who has consistently advocated for the rights of the masses and liberation of the oppressed, using his voice and his pen. His political and civil rights activism earned him multiple incarcerations in his earlier years, but he has remained active and consistent even in his advanced age. Numerous awards, honorary titles, and prizes have been conferred on Soyinka for his creative works and as well the sacrifices he has made and continues to make in the service to humanity. Some of his earlier works include: Keffi’s Birthday Treat (1954), A Tale of Two (1958), A Voice That Would Not Be Silenced; Art, Dialogue, and Outrage: Essays on Literature and Culture (1988); A Big Airplane Crashed Into The Earth (original title Poems from Prison) (1969); The Man Died: Prison Notes (1972). His plays are well known in theatre circles around the world and have been performed in many countries. The message of his plays, which continue to find resonance with even younger theatre directors and actors, usually explore myths and rituals to focus on the condition of humanity — Kongi’s Harvest, Dance of the Forest, The Strong Breed, The Road, Death and the King’s Horseman, Madmen and Specialists. Some titles also take on oppressors of the masses and errant political leaders — King Baabu, A Play of Giants, From Zia with Love, and lately Alapata of Apata. Other titles explore satire to reflect on the state of the polity and society – Trials of Brother Jero, Jero’s Metamorphosis, Child Internationale, and others.


TUNJI OYELANA at 80 (October)

A multi-award-winning musician, actor, folk singer, composer, he was for many years a music lecturer at the University of Ibadan. He founded the Tunji Oyelana and The Benders, one of the early bands to promote African folkloric music in the United Kingdom, touring extensively, especially with Wole Soyinka’s theatrical productions in the 80s through the 90s. He and Soyinka composed  (and produced the album) I Love My Country and; in 1996, were both charged with treason and forced into exile by then Head of State, General Sani Abacha. He has been resident in the United Kingdom. ever since, and via his enterprise, Emukay located in in East London, been contributing to the propagation of Nigerian and continental Arts in the country. Some of his popular songs include: Mo lo so ko (1976), Double Face (1976), All You Need Is Love (1977), A Nigerian Retrospective 1966–79 (2012).


LERE PAIMO at 80 (September)

Stage and screen actor of over six decades, Chief Paimo is also a film-maker, producer and director.  Popularly known as “Eda Onile Ola” after a famous role he played in a stage show in the 70s, his acting career began in 1960 after he joined the Oyin Adejobi Popular Theatre Company; he later joined Duro Ladipo’s Theatre group where he featured in a stage play titled Obamoro. Paimo’s journey to stardom began when he featured in the Yoruba epic film Ogbori Elemosho, in which he played the lead character. He has continued to act, produce and direct films in past decades. In 2005, in recognition of his immense contributions to the Nigerian film industry, he was bestowed with the national award of Member of the Federal Republic (MFR) by Olusegun Obasanjo, the then president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.





An Architect mostly celebrated for his definitive works in the Nigerian art community, he is the founder, chief executive officer of Total  Consult, a stop-firm for everything related to live show technical designs and execution. He is most recognised for envisioning and creating the prime culture producing and promotion center, Freedom Park, which was repurposed from the former Her Majesty’s Prisons, a defunct facility located along Broad Street, Lagos. Other notable cultural projects designed and executed by Theo Lawson include the Motherlan’, the now rested performing space  of the popular artiste, Lagbaja; Kalakuta Museum, repurposed from the residence of the late afrobeat music creator, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti; the Kuti Heritage Museum, remodeled from the old residence of the iconic woman activist,  Mrs. Funmilayo Ransome Kuti. Lawson has also worked on the Chimedie Museum project of the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe among other projects.; and recently completed work on remodeling of the residences of popular artistes of Ogun state origin, Ayinla Omowura and Haruna Ishola.



A renowned Culture bureaucrat, his service in the Federal Department of Culture, has left an indelible mark in cultural administration in the country. He served 35 years in the federal civil service in the Federal Ministry of Culture and Tourism and was responsible for policy on cultural development, engaged extensively with multilateral organisations such as UNESCO, WIPO and the African Union.  Ufot served as Director of Culture and retired as a past Director of the International Cultural Relations Department at the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture in 2015. Towards the end of his service he was redeployed to head the National Theatre management team, and was applauded for initiating a few reformatory programmes in the short while he spent there.



A theatre director, actor, critic and scholar, He is a Professor, and head of directing in the Theatre Department at the Southern Illinois University. He was recently appointed President of the Senate of the school. Ojewuyi’s theatre practice has covered parts of Africa, Europe, the Caribbean, America and the Mediterranean. He has taught at Yale, Rowan University, New Jersey, University of Lagos, Kwara State University and Nassarawa State University in Nigeria. An astute theatre director, reputed to always pick the so-called difficult scripts, his contributions in the field of academia and as a theatre practitioner have made him recipient of awards, honorary memberships and inductions. Few of these are: Fellow of Theater Arts by the National Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners, NANTAP;  winner of the 2007 Pittsburgh’s Onyx Best Theatre Director award by the African American Academy for the Arts, recipient of the British Council Commonwealth Fellowship, Ford Foundation/Arts International Professional Development grant, Horowitz Foundation Fellowship award, Rowan University Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning Recognition Award.



A celebrated filmmaker, cultural activist, and Managing Director of Brickwall Communications Limited, Ali-Balogun directed the multiple award-winning film, ‘Tango With Me. He has served in different capacities of leadership in film bodies and societies such as founding President, National Association of Nigeria Theatre Arts Practitioners (NANTAP), Jury – 2015 International Emmy Awards; Chairman, Audio Visual Rights Society of Nigeria, AVRS; Jury, 32nd Cairo International Film Festival; founding member,  Conference of Motion Picture Practitioners of Nigeria (CMPPN); all of these earning him the title of an industry leader. Some of the films to his credit are: A Place Called Home (1999), Child & Women Trafficking- The New Slavery (2002); Collage Of Cultural Colours (Japan) (2005); Flower Girl (2013).



A veteran actress, costume designer, choreographer and dancer, she has designed costumes for numerous plays by African Theatre Company, Tiata Fahodzi among others and runs a voluntary group called Tales by Moonlight using story telling as a tool to convey critical messages. Some of her acting credits are: Saworoide (1999), Shameful Deceit (2013), Our Husband Has Gone Mad Again (2013), Meet The Adebanjos (2012), Lucifer And The Lord, Wedlock of the Gods.



A former guitarist, and later manager with the popular English reggae and pop band, UB-40, Babayemi, a prince of Gbogan in Osun State, he is an arts and culture manager of many years standing. Managing Director of Different Aesthetics Arts & Culture Management, he worked extensively within the cultural establishment in the UK before coming home to become the pioneer head of operations and deputy chief executive at the prestigious MUSON Centre, Lagos. He left MUSON in 1995 to establish Different Aesthetics Arts and Culture Management. Babayemi was a sectional director of the 3rd Lagos Black Heritage Festival 2010 under the distinguished chairmanship of Professor Wole Soyinka. Babayemi is the Vice President of Actor’s Guild of Nigeria, Southwest Zone. He is also a very active culture advocate with great credit in artist management and art administration, serving as a senior manager at the inception of the Musical Society of Nigeria, MUSON.


One of Nigeria’s finest and seasoned actors, Norbert is also a producer and theatre teacher. His journey into the theatre world began in the 80s when he partook in the stage play of The Man Who Never Died while a Diploma student in the University of Ibadan. In a very rich career trajectory, he has gone on to feature in several critically acclaimed plays including Askari, Amona, Oedipus, Bachae of Euripides and others. He has also featured in several TV series, including playing lead roles in Checkmate, Tinsel, Family circle, Alan Poza, Heroes & Zeroes, Living Funeral, Red house 7, 30 Days, Edge of Paradise and Professor Okon. His credit in film include To Live Again, Dangerous Twins, amongst several others. In the course of his career, Norbert has won many awards, including Best Actor in a supporting Role at the Africa Movie Academy Award, AMAA, Most Prominent Actor in Nigeria at the Best of Nollywood award, Best Promising Actor at the City People Entertainment Award.



A painter, multi-media artist and a Professor of Fine Art at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Jerry is known for his versatility in the combination of studio practice and academic work. He is a culture advocate and a mentor to numerous young artists. He is recipient of awards such as Fellow, PACA, Fellow, SNA, Vice Chancellor’s Merit Award, A.B.U. A few of his notable solo and group shows are Gwari forms (Nigeria, 1984), Floral Notes (Nigeria, 1989), 3rd Biennial International Exhibition (Havana, 1989), Begegnung Mit den Enderen Kassel (Hann-Munden, 1992), Development of Contemporary Art (Jakarta, 1995), Contemporary Nigerian Art (Geneva) amongst several others.



A veteran actor, theatre and media practitioner, popularly known as ‘Teacher Chike’ in the long-rested Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) soap, After The Storm, Enaibe was an Arts Editor at the now defunct Republic Newspaper. He is a fellow of the National Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners (NANTAP). He has featured in films such as Newman Street, The Governor, Attahiru and several others.



A visual artist, and lecturer at the Yaba College of Technology, Adeyemi is a member of several professional bodies including the Guild of Printmakers, Nigeria; Society of Nigerian Artists, and Master Printers Association of Nigeria. Among several other awards and prizes, Adeyemi was 3rd Place winner of a National Painting Competition organised by Mobil Producing PIc (1983); winner, Best Pictorial Composition Student (1984); First Place, NYSC Art Competition, Kano, Nigeria (1985); and was also honoured with Nigerian Institute of International Service Award in 2003. He was Chairman, exhibition committee of Society of Nigerian Artist (SNA) in 1988 and Vice President at same time. He has delivered papers in academic forums; and participated in over a 100 group and solo exhibitions locally and internationally.



A trained actor, playwright, and director, Amkpa was for years a professor of dramatic arts at the New York University, while also serving as Director of Africana Studies.  Currently designated as Global Professor of Cultural Aesthetics, he is an accomplished filmmaker and curator of visual and performing arts with credits that include Truly, Madly, Deeply (1991), A Very Very Short Story of Nollywood (2008), Africa: Significaciones – Centro Provincial de artes Plasticas y Diseño, Havana, Cuba (2017),and Annual Highlife Music Festival – Accra, Ghana (2006-2009). He is the author of Theatre and Postcolonial Desires (Routledge, 2003) among other publications, including several articles on representations in Africa and its diasporas, representations, and modernisms in theater, postcolonial theater, and Black Atlantic films. A multi-skilled culture scholar and practitioner, he is director of film documentaries and curator of photographic exhibitions and film festivals.  lately has been operating as a Curator acclaimed artistic projects including Africa See Me See You; Resignifications: Representation os Black bodies, and Wole Soyinka, Antiquities Across and Space and time, which has been touring major galleries in the USA, Europe South America and parts of Asia.



Celebrating the Departed:

The 2019 LABAF dedicated to the memory of the renowned printmaker, David Herbert Lawrence who passed on —  will also remember and celebrate the life and times of notable members of the artistic and culture community, who passed on in the course of the year. These include:

Bisi Silva (art curator); Okwui Enwezor (art curator and historian). Paul Emema (Scriptwriter, Film Producer); Pius Adesanmi (culture activist and scholar); Eddie Ugbomah (filmmaker and art activist);  Molara Ogundipe (Literature teacher culture scholar); Stella Oyedepo (playwright, Arts administrator); Jide Ogungbade (theatre director and broadcaster); Frank Okonta (filmmaker and art patron); Idowu Nubi (film editor).



Kennii Ekundayo

Communications Manager, CORA/LABAF

info@lagosbookartfestival.com ǀ +234(0)7062438726