Ake Festival 2019: 7 Amazing Nigerian Writers to Expect

It’s that time of the year again! There are quite a number of activities that bookish fellows look forward to before the year wraps up and Ake Festival 2019 is one of them. The much anticipated book and arts festival was first launched in 2013 under the direction of Lola Shoneyin and support of the Book Buzz Foundation.

As always, authors, poets, artists and generally African who have demonstrated consistency and impacted in the creative space will grace the event. For now, the spotlight will be on the following 7 amazing Nigerian writers you definitely want to meet.


Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani

Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani

Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani is a novelist, journalist, and essayist. Based in Abuja, Nigeria, she is the first contemporary African writer to launch a global career while fully domiciled in her home country.

Her debut novel, I Do Not Come to You by Chance, won the 2010 Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Book (Africa), a 2010 Betty Trask First Book award, was a finalist for the Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa, and was named by the Washington Post as one of the Best Books of the Year. Her debut Young Adult novel, Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree, based on dozens of interviews with women and girls kidnapped by the terrorist group Boko Haram, was published by HarperCollins in September 2018. Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree won the 2018 Raven Award for Excellence in Arts and Entertainment, was named as one of the American Library Association’s Best Fiction for Young Adults and is a Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People 2019 selection.

Nwaubani’s journalism focuses on underreported humanitarian issues. Her reportage and essays have appeared in scores of publications, including The New Yorker, the New York Times, and The Guardian. She writes a monthly column for the BBC’s ‘Letter from Africa’, also broadcast on the Focus on Africa radio program. She was a location producer for the BBC/HBO documentary feature film, ‘Stolen Daughters: Kidnapped By Boko Haram’, and a super stringer for the Reuters Foundation. She was a recipient of the 2019 Carter Journalism Institute’s Reporting Award.

Nwaubani studied Psychology at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. She was the opinion editor at Nigeria’s groundbreaking but now defunct NEXT Newspapers. She was also the editor of élan, the fashion and style magazine of NEXT.

In 2013, Nwaubani founded the Eye Gate Children’s Outreach, a charity that aims to expand the minds of children in deprived rural areas through free animated film shows.

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In 2017, she was selected as one of 11 fellows for the Ford Foundation’s inaugural Africa ♯NoFilter project, a movement for promoting a diversity of narratives from across the African continent.


Ayobami Adebayo


Ayobami Adebayo is the author of Stay with Me which was shortlisted for the Kwani? Manuscript Prize, the Baileys Prize for Women’s Fiction, the 9mobile Prize for African Literature and the Wellcome Book Prize. A New York Times Notable Book of the Year, Stay with Me was also named Best Book of the Year by The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, NPR and The Economist. She has received fellowships and residencies from MacDowell Colony, Ledig House, Sinthian Cultural Centre, Hedgebrook, Ox-bow School of Arts, and Ebedi Hills. She holds BA and MA degrees in Literature in English from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife. Ayọ̀bámi also has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia where she was awarded an international bursary for creative writing.


Dami Ajayi

Dami Ajayi

Dami Ajayi is a medical doctor, writer and co-founder of Saraba literary magazine. He is the author of two volumes of poems and a chapbook.  His first full-length volume of poems, Clinical Blues, was longlisted for the Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature and shortlisted for the Melita Hume Prize and the Association of Nigerian Authors prize.  His second volume of poems, A Woman’s Body is a Country, was selected as a finalist of the Glenna Luschei Prize. He co-edited the prose anthology, Limbe to Lagos: Nonfiction from Cameroon and Nigeria.


Helon Habila

Helon Habila

Helon Habila is a Professor of Creative Writing at George Mason University, Virginia. He was born in Nigeria where he worked as a journalist before moving to the US. He is the author of four novels: Waiting for an AngelMeasuring TimeOil on Water and Travellers. He edited TheGranta Book of The African Short Story. His book of nonfiction, The Chibok Girls, focuses on the 276 school girls kidnapped by Boko Haram Islamists in northeastern Nigeria in 2014. Habila is a regular contributor to the UK Guardian, and a contributing editor to the Virginia Quarterly Review. Habila’s work has won many awards including the Caine Prize, the Commonwealth Writers Prize (Africa Region), The Virginia Library Prize for Fiction , and the Windham-Campbell Prize, among many others.


Nnedi Okorafor

Nnedi Okorafor Ake Festival 2019

Nnedi Okorafor is a Nigerian American author of African-based science fiction, fantasy and magical reaTunde Leyelism for children and adults. Her works include Who Fears Death (currently being developed by HBO into a TV series), the Binti novella trilogy, the Book of Phoenix, the Akata books and Lagoon.  She is the winner of Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy, Locus and Lodestar Awards and her debut novel Zahrah the Windseeker won the prestigious Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature. Nnedi has also written comics for Marvel, including Black Panther: Long Live the King and Wakanda Forever (featuring the Dora Milaje) and the Shuri series. Nnedi is also adapting Octavia Butler’s Wild Seed into a TV series with co-writer and director Wanuri

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Oyinkan Braithwaite

Oyinkan Braithwaite

Oyinkan Braithwaite is a graduate of Creative Writing and Law from Kingston University. Following her degree, she worked as an assistant editor at a publishing house, before freelancing as a writer and editor. She has had short stories published in anthologies and has also self-published work.

In 2014, she was shortlisted as a top ten spoken word artist in the Eko Poetry Slam.

In 2016, she was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize.

She is the author of My Sister, the Serial Killer, which won the 2019 LA Times Award for Best Crime Thriller, the 2019 Morning News Tournament of Books and was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2019.

My Sister, the Serial Killer has been translated into five languages and has also been optioned for film.


Tunde Leye


Tunde Leye is the author of four books and three novellas. His most recent work is the critically acclaimed historical fiction novel, Afonja: The Rise. His former books include Guardians of the Seals (2016), Golden Sands (2014) and children’s book The Rat Race (2011).

He ran a fiction blog www.tlsplace.wordpress.com for four years between 2011 and 2014, publishing weekly. He managed to write seven series including the popular Finding Hubby and somehow his stories were read over 2 Million times online and on various radio stations. Two of his series have been adapted for TV. He works with children, encouraging them to read and build a reading culture.

Tunde worked in electronic payments for over 12years, both on the bank side and as a service provider. He’s a partner with SBM Intelligence, a Pan-African research firm, and a columnist for various newspapers. He is also co-founder of Fintech firm, CredEquity.


Ake Festival 2019 Venue

Alliance Francaise/Mike Adenuga Centre, Ikoyi, Lagos, Nigeria.


24th-27th of October, 2019


Black Bodies. Grey Matter


If you missed out on the 2018 Ake Festival, register for this year’s edition while you still can. Also, to know what what went down read our Ake Diaries from last year..

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