by Fope Ojo

12237995_1070369502982654_8115112241168141134_oThe children troop in in dozens. From different schools they come, at first testing the waters, unsure about what to expect. They are quiet and respectful.

They sit in circles underneath dim lights of the banquet hall and we serve them doughnuts and scotch eggs and bottles of water.

They are still trooping in in large numbers when we move them to the cinema hall where they would watch the Documentary titled Nowhere To Run.

LS (Lọlá Shónẹyìn) starts the event by introducing herself as the creator of Aké Festival. She makes everything exciting for the children as she tells them to appreciate their teachers because she too is a teacher.

She says that if there’s anything that she would be remembered for, it is teaching. She talks about her students from six years ago that still hit her up on Facebook and Twitter saying that they miss her.

“And I say I miss them too because of course I miss them” she says.

She goes on to introduce the other guests.

12240373_1070278912991713_8756108340576099555_oIn attendance are the First Lady of Ogun State, Mrs. Olúfúnsọ Amósùn, environmental enthusiast, Funto Boroffice, and the representative from Lafarge , Mr. George Salami.

Mr. George Salami comes on stage and lectures the students about their environment. He thoroughly teaches them about the cement producing factories in Ewékorò. It is an interesting session. And when it is over, the students ask really intelligent questions that show their newly formed concerns about their environment. It is lovely to see them concerned about the inhabitants of environments that are suffering.

Then they watch Nowhere to Run, which is a documentary about all the environmental hazards and degradation in the different parts of Nigeria. It is premiered for the first time in the world at the Aké festival and Lọlá Shónẹyìn tells the children that they are allowed to brag about it. They laugh.

It opens with Ken Saro Wiwa jr who talks about the desertification in the North. It then shows us the oil spill in the Niger Belt area and then shows us the flooding in the East. We learn that if Nigerians don’t change the way they treat our environment, we might have to migrate in some years.

12237949_1070278896325048_6734471690468432096_o“Erosion in Nanka community has forced residents to abandon their homes and sources of livelihood” Nowhere to Run succeeds in broadening our about the way we treat our environment.

After the documentary, the First Lady leads the students in their environmental pledges. They eagerly pledge to treat their environments better.

There is a short competition after, the students from different schools are given many random materials like cardboards, straws, newspapers, fabrics, plastic and other different things and they are asked to create anything that they can. The students create so many things. They create balls, blouses, cups and other things. Gateway secondary school is the winning school. They lead with 90% and when they are announced as the winners, they stand up and make whooping sounds.

The students would leave that day invigorated with passion to bring change to their environment. They would leave excited about the things that they have learned from the different people that address them and would go home eager to change something in their environments.


Afọpẹfólúwa Òjó writes from Abẹ́òkuta, as a volunteer at the ongoing Aké Arts and Books Festival. Of herself, she says “Our souls find expression through words, art and music.”


(Photo credit: Ake Festival)

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