The opening day of the 18th Lagos Book and Art Festival (LABAF) was practically dedicated to the younger generation. The day witnessed over 500 students from different schools in Lagos and environs come to Freedom Park, venue of the book and art event.There were performances ranging from musical, dance, poetry to other genre of the art.
The arrival of the Nigerian actress and film director, Stephanie Okereke Linus, was the icing on the cake, as the students rushed to surround her, following the screening of her movie “Dry”, which tells the story of a young girl who was forced into marrying a man four times her age.
Glued to the screen, the children looked on, patiently and emotionally, perhaps, imagining the young girl in the screen to have been one of them. Sharing their thoughts on the movie, some of the students said they had learnt a lot.
Adeola said, “I learned that as a girl, you need to have a close relationship with your mother, tell her everything, because she can protect you.” Another student, Blessing, full of emotion said, “it is really sad seeing what happened to Halima, the girl in the movie. Nigeria should enforce a law that totally discourages such acts. Halima practically got married to her great grandfather, we live in a civilised world and this act is unacceptable.” To Susan, “early marriage exposes a girl to VVF; parents should not support such a barbaric act because of money.”
In line with the theme of the festival, ‘The Terror Of Knowledge’, Stephanie had an interactive session with the children on ‘My Encounter With The Book,’ where she spoke on the importance of reading and diligence.
According to Linus, “I was exposed to books at a very young age; I cultivated the habit of reading, so much that, I thought I was going to be a writer.” She advised students to take full advantage of the Internet age and maximize their potentials by reading widely, saying, “knowledge is at the tip of your fingers, and no knowledge is a waste. Reading influenced me to be who I am today, discover your talent and don’t get carried away by what other people are doing; be yourself and be an expert at what you do.”
Another high point of the event was the musical performance by Riverside Montessori School, Isheri, Ogun State. The pupils displayed mastery of the piano, trumpet and violin that drew the audience to a standing ovation.
There was also an art exhibition with theme, ‘Who Will Blink First’? It featured five conceptual artists, Aderemi Adegbite, Jelili Atiku, Efe Paul Azino, Nkechi Nwosu-Igbo and Bob Nosa Uwagboe. The exhibition was curated by Nkechi Nwosu-Igbo who shared more on her installation piece; ‘I Will Huff And Puff And Blow Your House Down.’
According to her, “the installation investigates our attitudes as people. We have built this shaky establishment for the “us vs them” mindset that we all have. Let’s break down these barriers of mentality; use these broken walls of ‘better ethnicity’ and bias to build bridges of patience and kindness. Go ahead and blink first, it doesn’t matter. Your act of tolerance does not depict weakness.”