That’s the word on my mind all day. I am deeply grateful.
I spend most of my morning alone in my room, some much needed alone time, writing, having breakfast and listening to Jon Bellion.
At about 1pm, I head to the cultural center with Chinenye and Yusuf for lunch. We have an amazing lunch and decide to visit Green legacy resort afterward. We decide to go to the amusement park within the resort.
At the gate, we are told that for a fee of 1,000 naira, we can take every ride once. We begin with the biggest one. Yusuf and I hesitate to get into it, but Chinenye convinces us to. The ride isn’t as fast as I imagined it would be and is not scary at all.
We enter a bunch of other rides, get denied access to the trampoline because ‘it’s for children’, eat ice cream, and check out the resort’s hotel.
After about two hours, we return to our hotel to rest before it’s time for dinner.
By 7pm, we return to cultural centre and have dinner. Chinenye and I finish eating in no time and move to the cinema hall where the palm wine and poetry evening is holding. We secure front row seats much to our delight and the event kicks off.
Palm wine is served in dainty calabashes and the first poet, Chika Jones renders a lovely poem about numbers and a nation held together by guns.
Up next is Dike Chukwumerije with poems that leave people laughing hysterically. After that, Michael Kelleher takes the stage and performs a piece on the US elections.
Up next is Titilope Sonuga. I know her performance will be amazing, I know her words will be powerful as always, but I’m still not ready for the greatness that ensues when Titi takes the stage. She performs an amazing poem about women.
It is an amazing performance and the audience gives her a standing ovation, a rightly deserved one.
Ogaga Alfowodo is up next and he reads equally amazing poetry.
Lenogang Mashile from South Africa takes the stage last and totally kills it. Her second piece, “Vulva Volcano” was my favorite.
Femi Osofisan comes on stage to give the benediction, but first, he tells us a really funny folk tale that involves us singing back and forth. Afterward, He calls Lola Shoneyin, the Director of Ake Festival, on stage and he prays for her. We all give her a much needed standing ovation.
Once again, that word—gratitude—is on my mind. She delivers her vote of thanks, thanking everyone who factored into the success of Ake Fest 2016.
Then, it’s time to party. There are cocktails and small chops and amazing music.
Everyone’s dancing and having fun, but my heart feels heavy with nostalgia. How did ake festival come and go so fast? It felt like so much yet so little. I learned so much and met so many amazing people, yet I feel like I haven’t had enough.
I know I’m going to miss Chinenye the most. My Aké sister. She is the best thing to come out of the festival for me. It’s amazing how easily we wove ourselves into each other’s lives.
I’m thankful for the new friendships forged — Yusuf, Tunji, Rotimi, Stephanie, Moje. I’m thankful for the chance to spend time with old friends who I don’t get to see often enough – Ayodeji, Jite, Eromo and Amara.
I’m thankful for the lessons learned, the conversations, the stories and the poetry.
I’m thankful for the brilliant women I had the privilege of listening to and learning from – Sarah Ladipo Manyika, NoViolet Bulawayo, Chinelo Okparnta, Titilope Sonuga, Lebogang Mashile, Nana Darkoa, Lola Shoneyin and so many more. They have all inspired me and reminded me how magical women are.
I’m really thankful for the books I acquired.
I’m thankful to my Dad for enabling my dreams, for supporting me, for being proud of me.
I leave Abeokuta on Sunday morning with Deyo and Taofik and there’s only one thing on my mind. Ake Festival 2017.