From the StreetLib TNPS Publish Africa newsletter #8:

Ake Arts & Book Festival leads the African Renaissance in 2020

Ake changes its 2020 theme to “AFRICAN TIME”

We’ll be looking backwards and forwards in this edition of Publish Africa, and we’ll begin by looking forward to the big event in October.

No, not the Frankfurt Book Fair (more on that in the next edition) but Nigeria’s Ake Arts & Book Festival.

Regular readers will know we’re big fans of digital and using social media to build global publishing reach, connect with wider audiences and to sell books, but also that when it comes to embraces the digital advantage many on the African publishing circuit have yet to wake up to the incredible opportunities unfolding.

So we kick off the meat of this edition of Publish Africa with news from the Ake Arts & Book Festival (AABF) straight from the AABF twitter feed, where the Ake team are masters of the art of combining digital imagery and micro-text (tweets) to get their message across.

Our world has changed forever. And when the world turns, we turn with it. The magnitude of recent world events cannot be ignored. We have therefore decided to change the theme for the 8th edition of Ake Arts & Book Festival to AFRICAN TIME.

In 1918, African nations were in the clutches of imperial forces that denigrated our stories, culture, history, language and belief systems. A century later, a new pandemic finds Africa struggling with the colonial hangover of poor leadership and a predatory global order.

Africa must reject the old normal and seize the opportunity of the moment to recalibrate and break the cycle of betrayal by those elected to lead. This may be our last chance to shape Africa and define the continent of our dreams.

It may have come later than expected but, for the children of Africa everywhere, this is Africa Time.

The Ake Festival is based in Lagos, Nigeria, and always has a strong international audience, but this year with all efforts being put into a digital event, the Ake Arts & Book Festival has a potential audience bigger than anything it has previously envisaged.

The decision to go fully digital was made way back in April, as reported by TNPS.

In a bold move the Ake Art & Book Festival scheduled for October 22-25 in the former Nigerian capital Lagos, is to be transformed into an online event.

With “only” 318 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 19 dead, Nigeria is far behind even the worst hit African states (that will be Algeria, with just shy of 2,000 cases and just shy of 300 dead reported as this post goes live), and faring a lot better than many other countries.

That was April. In early June (as when Publish Africa went live) the Nigeria numbers stand at 11,844 confirmed cases and 333 dead. Still faring far better than many richer nations, but still worrying enough to confirm the Ake Arts & Book Festival team made the right decision.

It will be interesting to see how many other African events follow suit, and how much this will prove to be a one-off event or a permanent new fixture.

With 126 million people online Nigeria is the sixth largest country in the world by internet users, and still only at 62% internet penetration.

The potential is there for the Ake Festival to reach a much larger audience, both domestic and global, that it could ever dream of with a physical event.

The 8th incarnation of the Ake Arts & Book Festival promises to be the best yet!

This post first appeared in Publish Africa, the B2B newsletter for Africa’s publishers with an eye of the global opportunity unfolding.