By Joshua Olalekan, Lagos
There was a mild drama in Lagos as one of the sons of Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, Olaokun adopted celebrated Kenya writer, Ngugi Wa Thiong’o as his second father.The Kenyan writer is the country to participate in 2016 edition of Ake Arts and Book Festival currently holding at the June 12 Cultural Centre in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.
While the event lasted, Ngugi’s got a new name, Babarinde, a Yoruba name meaning Baba has walked home from another Nigerian playwright, critic, and poet, Prof. Femi Osofisan.
Hardly had he (Osofisan) finished renaming the guest writer that the younger Soyinka, adopted him as his second father.
This however did not stop the event that lasted about an hour from taking place, as a newspaper columnist, Okey Ndibe, played the role of an interviewer while members of the literary community cutting across
Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Kenya among other African countries, were the attentive audience.
Lola Shoneyin of the Book Buzz Foundation, organiser of the festival, had first toyed for minutes between which of the two Yoruba names; Babawande or Babawale – meaning Baba has come back or returned home,
should be bestowed on the theatre guru, but she later accorded Prof. Femi Osofisan, the prerogative of choice to find a better name and eventually arrived at Babarinde as most befitting of Ngugi Wa Thiong’o to the thunderous applause of the audience.
Osofisan, an emeritus Professor, who was a part presenters of gifts to the author of ‘Weep Not Child,’ on behalf of the organiser, assured him that his audience – “children and grandchildren in arts” remained
highly inspired by his work and would also copy him to transform african countries through literatures and arts but also jokingly pointed out none may be willing to go to prison because of arts like he(Ngugi) experienced.
And for Dr Olaokun Soyinka who was the immediate past Health Commissioner in Ogun State, while presenting a gift of an attire made of adire fabric which is indegenous to the Abeokuta people, to Ngugi
Wa Thiong’o, on behalf of the Book Buzz Foundation, reminded him that he already had a biological father who is a Playwright and writer, but has decided to gladly adopt him(Ngugi) as a second ‘father’ in
admiration of his person and work.
He hailed Lola Shoneyin for the energy and commitment put into organising the Ake festival of Arts and later autographed one of his books on display: Birth of ‘Dream Weaver’ for many that purchased copies of it.
“Keep up with the spirit, keep up the good work,” he said.
Earlier, during the book chat which afforded the audience an avenue to ask a number of questions bordering on fiction writing, African women writers and the challenges of adopting one african language for
african writers, Ngugi noted that everything in life began as sound from where other forms of communication took root.
He revealed that it was his involvement in the Theatre, a branch of arts, that took him to prison for over a year.