After reading this last session of Aké dairies, I am sure a lot of you will agree with my mean friend who indirectly told me that going abroad is not for me.
It was the last day of the festival and while I should be ecstatic about leaving the polar region called Radisson Blu Hotel conference hall, I was sad. I had made friends with a number of the volunteers and it kind of hurt to leave them and go back to my life— which by the way is a rollercoaster of not-so-tasteful-events.
That Sunday morning, I got early to the conference hall and guess who I saw when I walked in?
Yep!!! Nnedinma Okoroafor; Madam Black Panther herself. I was happy seeing her and let me not forget to add that she is tall! Another thing I liked about her was her appearance. I mean, if you have seen her pictures on Instagram before, you can pick her out of any crowd. No changes; just beautiful.
Some visitors were talking to her and sharing their story. I kind of listened with one ear and I couldn’t help but over-notice the fake accent of one of the guys. You will say how do I know now abi? Don’t worry I will tell you.
Remember my job? Registration desk girl? Yes, that is how I know his accent was faked. You see, I am the kind of person who hardly forgets faces, names and birthdays (I’m awesome like that, thank you!), so I clearly remember this guy from when he registered with me. Plus he had a minor issue at the desk which made him more memorable to me.
The next thing I knew was they were taking pictures. Boy, I was so jealous!!! I wished I could leave my duty post to grab a picture too. And to think that I had always wanted a picture with Nnedi cos I think I kind of look like her with my reading glasses on.
Here she was, right in front of me and I could do nothing about it. So I looked away and continued setting up my desk. Then Toby came. This is where it gets really enlightening.
Before now, I thought women’s bosoms were the only receivers of cold’s touch. I didn’t know men also experienced it until Toby brought it to my attention. He said that the cold from the other days had seeped into his body so much and the cold from today was even worse cos it made his nipples stand. I was shocked. On a normal day, I would laugh but I couldn’t. It wasn’t a funny statement to me, it was a shocking one. I guess you too have learnt something new. Men’s nipples can also stand when there’s cold.
Moving on, as the festival came to an end, we had more flexible working hours so I seized the opportunity to go to Ouida bookstore and buy THE HUNDRED WELLS OF SALAGA By Ayesha Harruna Attah. On getting to the bookstore, I ended up buying an extra book from Ankara press; BLACK SPARKLE ROMANCE By Amara Nicole Okolo. I remembered my roommate, Lydia recommending books from Ankara press so I added it to my shopping cart. It was the first time in my adult life of walking into a bookstore and buying books by African authors. I’m glad I have this experience to share. You should try it if you haven’t already.
Getting back to the hotel, I was told that some guests were already leaving and I felt slightly sad. I wanted Ayesha to sign my book but I also considered the possibility of her not being around anymore. Then Toby came and made matters worse by showing me his signed copy of Logan February’s poetry collection.
Then like a dream of the night, Ayesha walked out of Ijakadi hall. I couldn’t believe my good fortune. Silently, I thanked whoever had called her because that was the reason she had come out of the hall. I picked up my book and ran to her with a pen, and asked her to sign my book which she did. I was so excited so I asked for a picture and she was happy to oblige me. I called Rabiat, a fellow registration desk volunteer to snap the pictures. She warned me beforehand that she was bad at it but I didn’t care. All I wanted was a picture! And well, let’s just say that Rabi is well aware of her abilities. At the end of the day, I had a picture with my latest woman crush and got my book signed too.
Finally, it was the last event of the day and L.S made sure everyone participated in it. I guess I can finally say that I enjoyed a session at the festival. Everyone was excited about this session but me, not so much. It was poetry and I barely understand poetry but I figured it was better than not participating in anything at all.
So we went into the hall and much to our surprise, L.S called all the volunteers on stage and thanked us for our support. She said we were chosen cos we are special. Oh, you should have seen me grinning toothlessly from ear to ear.
After the appreciations were done, the first poet was called to do his thing which he did. I couldn’t figure out his kind of poetry so I didn’t enjoy it. Next was Wana Udobang. Her poems were simple, clear and interesting. I enjoyed every bit of them. But poets who stood out for me were Sadiq Dzukogi and Nii Ayikwei Parkes.
Sadiq’s poem Wineglass was written for the daughter he lost. This poem dripped melancholy and my eyes couldn’t help but release a few drops of tears. I wasn’t even ashamed to cry in such a public place. I mean, who am I not to cry when the poet himself shed a tear or two, and the whole room was silent? What baffled me was how he was able to finish the poem without breaking down on stage.
Then like a breath of fresh air to suffocating lungs, Nii’s poem West African Mosquito lit me up. The humour in the poem was so much and he had expressions to match each line. I can say that this is currently my favourite poem.
Now, for someone who barely understands poetry, I sure had an amazing time in that hall. I guess what we like and what we understand is subject to our perception of life and art.
let me know your thoughts on this in the comments.