Ake Festival For First-Timers
Every year, the Ake Arts and Books festival shakes Abeokuta the capital of the old state of Ogun. This year the five-day event happens at the Arts and Cultural Centre also known as June 12 Center in Kuto from the 14th to 18th of November, 2017. The cultural festival celebrates African novelists, poets, dancers, actors, illustrators, activists, musicians, artists and thinkers, as well as those in the diaspora.
This year is the fifth edition of the festival and the theme, “This F-Word”, focuses on creative women doing amazing things. The festival guide is to make sure you are well prepared to adequately enjoy your time, from feeding to attending the panel sessions.
To make sure you have the best time at the Ake Festival, opt for comfortable and breathable outfits because the halls can be packed thereby making it humid. As regards your choice of footwear, make it simple with flat shoes and sneakers, leave the heels for the red carpets as there will be no runway for you to strut. Abeokuta also happens to be the capital of adire so you can get the indigenous fabric in yards or ready-to- wear outfits during your stay.
If you are spending five days in a town strange to you then you absolutely need to know your option for feeding. Ake Festival provides the meal tickets for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Last year it sold for N500 and have reasonable portions. Within the venue, you have other options for feeding, like the bar where you have ofada, (Abeokuta also happens to be the home for this delicacy). At the bar, you can order alcoholic beverages as well as have smoke breaks. Another bonus is the artists who frequent that bar which makes networking easy.
While registering to be a part of the festival, we advise you opt for the VIP package. Last year it went for N30,000, while regular was N5000. The VIP gives you preference during dining periods as you get to seat with the celebrities at the event which is a great chance to network. During the tour to historical sites, it gives you first access to transportation as well as the sites. Although the spirit at Ake is actually free, VIP just gives you an added advantage.
Accommodation and logistics
A good number of the decent hotels are situated adjacent the event venue which is the GRA of the city. Hotel rates are cheap with rooms from N8,000 to N15,000. As regards transportation, the roads are hilly and the abundance of agriculture makes the climate good for walks which means you can walk to the venue. Abeokuta is a sleepy town and a few evening sessions may end as late as 10pm. At that time of the night, there aren’t many cabs on the roads so your best option is taking a bike, in the case that you’re not mobile. Maybe have a good relationship with the local cab drivers and have an arrangement to be dropped and picked. It is advisable you have cash at hand when dealing with local traders as you won’t have the option of paying with your card.
Go for sessions that are important to you. Don’t aim to attend all because doing so will wear you out quickly. Go through the schedule and select sessions based on speakers, panellists, and moderators that interest and excite you. Read the official festival books so you can be a part of the conversations during book chats. There are a plethora of book stalls making you spoiled for choice. If you are not a millennial, get ready for an influx of the University students that arrive on Friday night. The closing party is a great end to the festival with cocktails, food, good DJs, palm wine and all the components of an exciting party. Your VIP access gives you an advantage over the regular guests during this party.