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Mathew Oluwaseun
University of Ilorin (Unilorin)
Mechanical Engineering
500Level, Nigeria.
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Popularly known as LABAF, The Lagos Arts and Book Fair 2016 is one of the biggest culture picnic in Lagos.

Held at the historic Freedom Park, Lagos, the festival in its 18th year is organized by the committee for Relevant Art a group of artistes, art enthusiasts, art promoters and art writers committed to the development of the Arts of Nigeria and their enabling environment.

The festival was founded on the shared conviction that arts and literature are essential to the vibrancy of our communities, with a focus on supporting change by building coalitions based on solidarity, inclusion and diversity, and replacing ignorance with knowledge.

However, every year, it churns out exhibitions, boring and facile panel discussions, book chats, concerts, poetry presentations etc.

I arrived at 2pm on Saturday excited to enjoy and soak in wisdom discussed and whispered at the book chats.

When I first walked in, the scene resembled a wake keeping event, a dozen of old people, were quietly walking around the entrance.

I am in my very early twenties, so I was a bit annoyed when I realised that the beautiful theme “The Terror of Knowledge: Education as a Terrifying Weapon Against the Forces of Darkness.” which should have had youths as its moderators and speakers had a bunch of old men instead.

At best, some of the youth moderating the panels or part of the discussions, were either overwhelmed by the older people or simply dismissed by them.

None of the book chats was aimed towards fostering discussions about terror/terrorism, contemporary arts and literature, and overcoming the challenges young people drafted into terrorists groups face.

These days, the Lagos books and arts festival is so bad its hard to imagine anyone sitting through any of the sessions. It has lost its originality, vitality, wearing down into a stupid, very forgettable lifeless class exercise.

The event is so pungent and so terrible it renders the youth moderators useless when they are not allowed to talk or make their own observations or even answer questions.

The old panelists are always so self-centred that the whole essence of the book chat/conversation becomes irrelevant.

Although, Labaf should be commended for honouring good writing and multicultural cohesion, supporting poets, writers and artists from across a wide range of artistic expressions, cultures, and languages. It still did not engage the youth or encourage creative transformation and intercultural/inter-religion understanding.

We hope some changes and improvement will be made by the organizers.

Thank you for providing Pulse an opportunity to attend the event in exchange for an honest review.


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