Festivals ~ Here's how it went down at #Kabafest24 ~ Sophiyya EmBee

Kaduna called and we answered! 

The sound of it was everywhere! And of course, it was already anticipated. 

In 2023, we waited for the Kaduna Book and Arts Festival. When it didn't happen, we tucked our pens in disappointment and prayed to the literary gods for its return. 

Fun fact: They answered!!!

You can imagine the excitement when KABAFEST returned and was held from the 1st to the 4th of May 2024.  From the streets to social media, Kaduna pulsed with a creative throb as the festival unfolded like a bibliophile's wonderland. I couldn’t resist immersing myself in this celebration of books, arts, and friends.

The festival kicked off with a bang, honoring Helon Habila with the KABAFEST lifetime achievement award, a well-deserved recognition for his literary contributions. 

The opening ceremony was a vibrant tapestry of poetry and music performances, book reading, and a rousing speech by the governor. This energy continued with a book chat featuring the beloved northern Nigerian author, Abubakar Adam Ibrahim, discussing his latest novel, "When We Were Fireflies." 

Another highlight was the "Kannywood: Building a Culture of Diversity and Inclusion" panel, which sparked a debate on the gendered inequalities in the way Kannywood stars are treated and protected within the industry.

The question of confronting the North's mental health crisis sparked another powerful panel discussion, showcasing the commendable efforts being made to address this crucial issue, especially in Kaduna State. 

There was a special reception for women in publishing which offered a platform to discuss the publishing process and opportunities over tea and snacks – a nourishing and empowering exchange.

Book chats featuring Aiwanose's "We Were Girls Once," Richard Ali's "The Anguish and Vigilance of Things," Bisi Adjapon's "Daughter in Exile," Helon Habila's "Travelers," and the highly anticipated Umar Sidi's "The Incredible Dreams of Garba Dakaskus" – explored themes of poetry, love, immigration, and personal growth.

Panel discussions delved into climate change, mental health, confronting a culture of low expectations, and supporting art and poetry. The lively and impactful discussions kept fanning the flames throughout the festival.

Despite not being much of an art person, I was still intrigued by the visual arts exhibition. The intricate mini-doll sculptures were a particular draw. I got to interact with Nakas, one of the artists, and delved into his abstract painting, Behind The Scenes, and that offered a unique insight into his creative process, but beyond that, I still can’t comprehend anything about abstract art. While it may remain a mystery, the artistry on display was undeniable.

The food at KABAFEST24 deserves its own standing ovation! Despite the large crowds, the UAE delicacies were plentiful, offering a feast of rices, khubz, yibn, potato puree, and a delectable assortment of meats. (Forgive the lapse in grammar when it comes to food – pure joy can be a powerful motivator!)

The well-deserved over-hyped balangu shouldn't go unmentioned. And just in case you're not a fan of balangu, there was an abundance of suya, too.

A truly memorable moment was getting my books signed by my favorite author, Abubakar Adam Ibrahim, and other prominent authors such as Richard Ali, Umar Abubakar Sidi, Helon Habila, among others. These conversations weren't just about autographs; they were about books, poetry, business, and a shared love for creativity.

#Kabafest24 is always a vibe and more; the guests were lively and friendly, the organizers interactive and engaging, and the energy was electric. It was a melting pot of creative minds, business partners, potential clients, artists, activists, dignitaries, and government officials. There was a contagious energy that resonated amongst fellow bookworms and art lovers alike, united by their appreciation for creativity.

As a book lover, the festival left me feeling inspired and overflowing with new discoveries. Books like Nnamdi Ehirim’s “Prince of Monkeys” and Bisi Adjanupo’s “Daughter in Exile” are now on my must-read list. (Don't judge – Helon Habila's "Waiting for an Angel" and "Measuring Time" are next on my plate!)

If you ever have the opportunity to attend the Kaduna Book and Arts Festival, DON’T MISS IT!! It’s a treasure trove for anyone who appreciates the magic of written letters and the joy of connecting with new and old friends!

I'll leave you with the video of the closing night. Cheers!