With the overwhelming impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the Art and Culture sector in 2020, the year 2021 opened with a lot of uncertainties for artists and stakeholders who were unsure about what best strategy to adopt to keep hope alive.
In retrospect, one can confidently say that the sector fared much better in 2021, as art and culture producers adapted to the new normal. Organisers of the very few annual events which held digitally in 2020 rather than outright cancellation like many others, adopted hybrid venues in 2021, thereby recording huge success.
The 2021 Ake Arts and Books Festival which held digitally, was a massive success. It had the latest Nobel Laureate, Tanzanian author, Prof. Abdulrazak Gurnah in
conversation with Booker-Prize shortlist, Maaza Mengiste at The Life and Times Series session.
Themed: Generational Discordance, the edition examined how the paradigm shift brought about by the pandemic has impacted on life, particularly the creative space, through diverse sessions.
The three-day activity-packed Quramo Festival of Words, tagged: Qfest 2021, which held between October 1st and 3rd, 2021, at the prestigious Eko Hotels and Suites, Lagos, was another successful event last year.
Qfest 2021 witnessed a huge convergence of poets, playwrights, storytellers, other literary enthusiasts, as well as creatives in diverse genres in the creative industry.
They explored the efficacy of words both in written and spoken form, in relation to life in times of pandemic and creativity in general.
The 23rd Lagos Book and Arts Festival, LABAF, organised by the Committee for Relevant Arts, CORA, also held from November 15 to 21, 2021. The festival was dedicated to stage matriarch, Taiwo Ajayi-Lycett. It had as theme: A Fork In The Road, and was as usual, a feast of ideas and life, focusing on education, enlightenment and empowerment.
The Lagos International Poetry Festival, LIPFest, also had an impressive seventh outing with the theme: Ancestral Imaginings. The theme of LIPFest which reactivated the idea for contemporary poetic explorations, focused on the need to lean into existing storehouses of knowledge to illuminate the present moment occasioned by the pandemic.
Also at Freedom Park, Broad Street, Lagos, Unconventional: 2021 Lagos Fringe Festival opened with enlightening workshops, thrilling film screenings, amazing concerts and
so much more.
The festival like many others, held as a hybrid multidisciplinary arts experience, that engaged participants, art lovers, enthusiasts, international and local audiences, from Tuesday 23 November till Sunday, 28 November, 2021.
Ado Ekiti, the capital of Ekiti State, came alive with diverse cultural displays during the 34th edition of the National Festival of Arts and Culture, NAFEST.
Considering the divisions, violence and agitations for self determination in the country, the theme of the 2021 edition: Celebrating National Unity in Diversity, promoted the country’s
unity in diversity.
Also in October, Nigerians and the international community experienced the opulence of arts, crafts and culture offered at the 14th edition of International Arts & Crafts Expo, INAC, hosted annually in Abuja by the National Council for Arts & Culture.
It was all jubilation in Africa when Tanzanian author, Abdulrazak Gurnah, received the
Nobel Prize for Literature, becoming the first author of African origin to win the prestigious Prize since 2003.
The Nigeria Prize for Literature also got a winner in 2021 after it was postponed in 2020 for obvious reason. In a grand event held at Eko Hotels and Suites, Lagos, the Advisory Board for the Nigeria LNG-sponsored Prize, announced The Son Of The House by Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia as winner of the 2021 edition.
Cheluchi Onyemelukwe Onuobia won $100,000 cash prize for The Son Of The House after beating The Girl With The Louding Voice by Abi Dare and Colours of Hatred by Obinna Udenwe which were among the three finalists shortlisted in August 2021.
Shortly after, Obinna Udenwe won the maiden edition of Chinua Achebe Prize for Literature 2021 at a ceremony in Abuja, on Saturday, November 6, 2021.
He received the prize money of N1,000,000 for the same novel, Colours of Hatred.
To the surprise of many, a biography chronicling the life history of the General Overseer of the Deeper Life Bible Church, Pastor W.F Kumuyi made the list of literatures during the year under review. Titled, Kumuyi: Defender of the faith, the biography portrays William Folorunso Kumuyi as a devout defender of the faith, detailing occasions during which he overcame series of challenges to prove himself as an apostle of faith.
Former governor of Osun State, Chief Bisi Akande’s autobiography titled: My Participations, launched on Thursday, December 9, 2021, in Lagos, is one literary exercise that generated so much controversies and quarrels between some affected Yoruba leaders and the auto-biographer. The rancour My Participations stoked may stay with the main actors for a very long time.
There were so many visual arts exhibitions during the out-gone year, indicating how well artists and gallery owners did to cover up losses of the previous year.
One of such exhibitions is A Room With All Our Things, by Art Pantheon, bringing its eventful art appreciation year, to a close. The group exhibition featured artworks by Toju Clarke, Abisola Gbadamosi, Tolulope Daramola, Paul Ayihawu and Samuel Vittu.
In a solo exhibition celebrating four decades of Duke Asidere’s nonstop practice, titled: Cohesion in Colour: A Retrospective by Duke Asidere, the iconic artist’s works were showcased in the inaugural exhibition of O’DA Art Gallery in Victoria Island, Lagos
Exhibitions by Modupeola Fadugba, Chinze Ojobo, Ameh Egwu, etc, as well as members of the Society of Nigerian Artists during the 2021 October Rain event, all shaped the visual art industry.
Stage and Screen
The urgent need to rehabilitate street children and youth for a better future, led to the production of the movie titled: The Oratory, which premiered both in Lagos and Abuja to public delight.
The Oratory, an initiative of The Nollywood Factory in collaboration with Salesians of Don Bosco, is designed to raise awareness amongst key stakeholder publics on the plight of homeless and street children in Nigeria. It was directed by Obi Emelonye, a Nigerian film director, and produced by Dr. Cyril Odia, a Nigerian Salesian priest presently serving in Dublin, Ireland.
Also, Lily Women’s Health, a non-governmental organisation based in Lagos, brought its
campaign against breast cancer closer home, with the premiere of Tufiakwa: Witnessing the Breast Cancer Journey, in Lagos.
The documentary, supported by the Lagos State Government through the Ministry of Culture and Tourism to boost the cancer awareness campaign, premiered before a female-dominated audience at the Glover Memorial Hall, Lagos.
The prestigious Glover Memorial Hall, Marina, Lagos, was aglow with two exciting plays:
Awo and Aremu, spicing up the Nigerian theatre space. Both plays by the Duke of Shomolu
Productions, narrate the life of two great Nigerian statesmen; the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo and ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo. The plays were produced by Joseph Edgar and written and directed by the Chairman, Lagos State chapter of the National Association of Nigerian Theatre Art Practitioners, NANTAP, Makinde Adeniran, fta.