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Arts, books light up Kaduna as Kabafest opens


Kaduna cultural landscape is one of the country’s finest. Its history provides a fascinating tale for any culture-centric individual. The state, in fact, has a rich cultural heritage in terms of festivals, music, dance, drama and craft.

With 32 autonomous traditional institutions in the form of Emirate councils, mostly in the northern part, and chiefdoms, in the southern part, Kaduna State is a kaleidoscope of cultural and religious intersection.

The state is home of the internationally acclaimed NOK culture in NOK village, Jaba Council. This is where the NOK Terracotta head (the oldest known figurative sculpture south of the Sahara) was discovered dating back to 500BC.The state has something for every cultural traveller.


From today (September 5) till Saturday (September 8), booklovers will takeover the state, as the yearly Kaduna Book and Arts Festival (Kabafest) begins. First held in 2017, last year’s festival featured writers such as, Sudanese novelist, Leila Aboulela, Toni Kan, Abubakar Adam Ibrahim, Richard Ali, Andrew Walker and some other notable writers graced the first edition.

Aboulela won the first Caine Prize for African Writing. She is the author of four novels, a collection of short stories and several radio plays. Her novels, The Translator, a New York Times 100 Notable Books of the Year, Minaret, and Lyrics Alley, were all long listed for the Orange Prize. Lyrics Alley was Fiction Winner of the Scottish Book Awards and was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize. Leila’s book of short stories Coloured Lights was short-listed for the MacMillan Silver PEN award. Her work has been translated into 14 languages.

There were also poetry performances and a musical concert by Jeremiah Gyang. A major highlight of last year’s event was the signing of the literacy project, Write to Right Project memorandum of understanding, between the European Union, represented by its Ambassador, Michel Arrion, and a French cultural organisation, Africultures, represented by Moise Gumis, to propagate massive literary and digital projects in five states in the North – Kaduna, Katsina, Borno, Adamawa and Bauchi.

The project is aimed at supporting creativity, production and reproduction of educational and recreational books in the five states. It also engages over 25 writers and support over 10,000 teachers to make impact. The project is worth EUR 3 million (N3 billion).Following the success of its maiden edition, this year is featuring up to 70 guests, comprising writers, poets, actors, musicians, artists and filmmakers.

Lined-up for the four-day programme of arts and book-focused events are, ‘booklogues’, workshops, performances, art show, stage play, film screening and panel discussions with Nigerian and international writers and thinkers.Speakers will tackle issues around life in Nigeria, but most especially Northern Nigeria. The panel discussions typically last for 80 minutes, with at least 20 minutes devoted to audience participation and question and answer.

‘Bookies’ will have opportunity to mingle and hold stimulating discussions on a wide range of issues concerning books with guests. Three movies, Swallow, an initiative of the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Foundation, Alias Story by Nuhu Dalyop and Uprooted by Ummi Bakar will be screened.

Supported by the European Union and the Open Society Initiative for West Africa, the film features inspiring stories to galvanise Nigerians to address challenges, opportunities and solutions to our food security.Food-lovers will be able to enjoy food tasting events featuring flavours from outside Nigeria and an opportunity to enjoy the array of Northern Nigerian desserts. It will be fun, thought provoking and enriching. It’s going to be a culture carnival with high book content.

According to the organisers, Kabafest is the first and only literary fête of this magnitude in Northern Nigeria. It aims to change the way the world sees the region, “boost access to literacy and reading, reignite a passion for arts and culture in the state and to create more safe spaces where cultural and literary enthusiasts can gather to dialogue about books, culture and ideas.”The festival is in line with the state’s ‘Creative Arts Programme’ initiative, which the state governor, Mallam Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai, said, “is devoted to nurturing, promoting and celebrating the creative potential of our people.

It is a manifest commitment of this government to support the arts creatively and our creatives themselves.”The Kaduna State government, in partnership with the Book Buzz Foundation, is organizing the festival.

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