LABAF 2020: CORA announces 22nd Lagos Book and Art Festival


The Committee for Relevant Art (CORA) has announced the date for this year’s edition of the Lagos Book and Art Festival. It will run from November 9 – 15, 2020.

Now in its 22nd year, the annual festival will proceed under the theme, “A State of Flux: Literacy in a Period of Languor”.

Flux …Languor, the two active words in the theme, according to a statement by Toyin Akinosho, CORA’s Secretary General, contrast sharply with Emerge, the subject of last year’s edition of the Festival.

12 Books are, primarily, up for discussion.

Akinosho states further that A State of Flux is inspired by the deep anxieties in the global political economy; the easy and ready dismissal of ideas that seemed commonsense a while ago.

“The epic struggle of the notion of the nation state. The rise and rise of a dangerous streak of divisive political ideology that seems to surpass all humanistic values and the lack of cohesive response by governments, everywhere, to the increasing decapitation of the environment by climate change.

“Four months into our choice of the theme: A State of Flux, the global economy was locked down by the COVID-19 pandemic. Humankind has since experienced varying degrees of haziness and stupor; the mind is trapped and competence escapes.

“To make sense of all this haze, we invite Femi Osofisan’s Kolera Kolej, the classic satirical novel set in a university campus, a hilarious observation of a society set on snuffing out its best institutions”.

Andre Brink’s A Wall of Plagues, influenced by Camus, published in 1984 at the time of apartheid’s state of emergency, imagines a devastating descent of plagues imperiling society; Elechi Amadi’s The Great Ponds is a fictional take on the 1918 Pandemic and Wọlé Ṣoyínká’s Opera Wọnyosi, described, in places, as an eloquent play about human decadence and profound stupidity.

Some of the newer books for discussion, which speak to the theme, include Nancy Fraser’s The Old Is Dying and the New Cannot Be Born, Aramide Ṣegun’s Ẹniitàn: Daughter of Destiny; Wendy Brown’s In the Ruins of Neoliberalism, Joy-Ann Reid’s The Man Who Sold America.

There are panels, of course, to engage these texts and 12 others over the weeklong fiesta of the written word, but anyone who has read any of these books is invited to raise a hand for engagement.

LABAF: A Carnivalesque Feast of Ideas

The Lagos Book and Art Festival,, 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. There’s a strong youth (12-16 year old) segment. The core programming remains panel conversations around a set of “Books of the Festival”, which speak to the year’s theme, as well as meet-the -author events, ‘why-I-read-what-I-read sessions with top corporate leaders and a seminal conversation focused on to that one recent work of non-fiction that most appraises the directions of the global knowledge economy. 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.

Finalised Version of the Objectives of the Lagos Book &Art Festival

• The Lagos Book&Art Festival continues as a platform to make books look cool.

• It is designed as a large intersection of the book and other arts and promoted as a major item in the organizers’ vision to make Lagos Nigeria a prime destination for culture tourism. LABAF seeks to be more than a bookfair, with a focus on sales, or a literary festival, which is often restricted to the writing establishment. It connects Lagos residents to a growing international audience who see in intellectual culture a valid part of global travel.

• LABAF hopes to increase, manifold, the variety of publics in its carnivalesque book and festival; book rights sales, writers and networking, knowledge growth.

• With its ever growing Children/Students/Youth segment, the 15-year old GREEN FESTIVAL, anchored by Children and the Environment, CATE) and the 3-year old CORA Creative Youth Club, anchored by MINDBusiness), LABAF hopes to merge literature with literacy and the pursuit of knowledge and provide an enabling platform for converting Africa’s Youth Bulge into true human capital.

LABAF in the context of the CORA mandate

CORA was born out of a desire to help facilitate the rise of the ‘intellect’ over ‘emotion’ in the affairs of peoples of our nation and the world. At CORA, we are more focused on the mind and mental development of the people of Africa, so they can proudly take their seat at the globalization discourse. We believe that this can only be accomplished through mass literary, using the instrumentality of the arts. For and on behalf of The Committee for Relevant Art


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