The Aké Arts and Book Festival has received the first Aficionado Award for enhancing global publishing quality. This annual event in Nigeria, founded by Lola Shoneyin in 2013, promotes literary and artistic endeavours. The Aficionado Award appreciates innovation, as well as honouring those improving publishing through partnerships. Its aim is to spotlight the publishing sector’s achievements while fostering learning and idea exchange.
Collaborating on this award, the Frankfurter Buchmesse and Italy’s Salone Internazionale del Libro di Torino assembled a board of founders. They presented shortlisted competitors at the Torino International Book Fair, allowing guests to vote. The board also faced the daunting task of selecting the shortlist. Nonetheless, they were delighted to choose the Aké Arts and Book Festival as the deserving winner.
Lola Shoneyin, a Nigerian poet and author, published her debut novel, The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives, in the UK in 2010. She explores female sexuality and African household challenges in her literature. Shoneyin has received multiple awards, including being named the African Literary Person of the Year in 2017 by Brittle Paper.
The Aké Arts and Book Festival showcases global writers, focusing on promoting African creativity. Described as Africa’s largest annual literary gathering, it fosters community and local connections. According to the Aficionado Award program, Aké has gone above and beyond its role as a literary festival:
Over the last decade, Aké has excelled at establishing a sense of community among participating authors while creating important connections with the local audience in Abeokuta, Lagos State. One of the festival’s explicit aims is to promote literacy, especially among a younger audience . . . This prioritization of what is locally resonant over commercial European or American expectations of what African writing should resemble is refreshing, enriching, and vital. To date, Aké has brought together writers, artists, poets, and filmmakers from 29 African countries. The festival has also produced a print review, published in English, Yoruba, and French, featuring many authors who have in the meantime reached a larger audience in and beyond Nigeria—Tsitsi Dangarembga, Nurradin Farah, Ama Ata Aidoo among them.