KWABAFEST: Give AbdulBasit and his team their flowers

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By Abdulwahab Tajudeen

Last week has been an unforgettable week for me. A rollercoaster of a week laden with fears, joy and hopes for what the future holds. It has been 10 weeks since I started DigifyPro intensive Bootcamp training and last Friday was our graduation ceremony. Like newborn babies, 80 participants from Nigeria are ready to showcase their discovered talents during the training. I want to believe the Nigerian communication and advertising industry is not ready enough for the wonder kids of Digify Nigeria. All thanks to Meta for supporting this initiative.

One of the highlights of last week was KWABAFEST. AbdulBasit and his team at PIAM Voices have done my city and state a great honour and what should follow is to sing their praises loud and clear.

In this era when we have lost the reading culture and less attention is paid to acquiring knowledge, what in the holy name are we going to call a boy from Kankatu in Ilorin conceiving the idea of celebrating Books and Arts? Is he being unrealistic? Overdoing it? Suffering from fatal arrogance? Or over-gauged his sense of self-importance? Hell no! AbdulBasit is being true to himself. He understands that he has his part to play in reviving our lost reading value and he is not holding back.

When AbdulBasit first contacted me to seek my opinions on the just concluded Books and Arts Festival, I told him to go Nike’s way, “Just do it.” The 3-day event was still on paper, its feasibility, yet unknown. I told him it won’t be easy. That he would be deserted by people he believes should initially support this kind of initiative being learned, but it is not their fault. That is what we have condemned ourselves to as a people. We major in minor asking these people for the mundane and they would be shocked to see someone thinking outside the box. You, an outlier? No way!

But against all odds, I have a strong belief in AbdulBasit and what he can achieve. I saw him revive the poetry community in Kwara State with Poetry In A Million Voices (PIAM Voices), hence, he is made for greatness. I can’t dissuade him, but support him even if it is just with my time listening to his laid down plans.

Ralph Waldo Emerson was right when he said, “If you find a man of great intellect, ask him which books he reads.” This, AbdulBasit just proved right with the success of KWABAFEST. He exhibits that no matter the career choice you’ve made, the books you read will go a long way in shaping your thoughts, opinions and ultimately your actions. And overall, how you carry your Arts and Culture. We all can testify to how the KWABAFEST team brought to life the history of Oba Mama, cleared the misconceptions and gave the family their due honour. A glorious thanks to Dr Isiaka Aliagan for giving us this text.

Even with our backwardness in reading and learning, we all have the potential to stand out but not many of us have the willpower to go that far and one thing I will commend AbdulBasit for is his prestige in defying the odds. It is not far-fetched that one of the banes of the current generation of Nigerian youths is the absence of a reading culture. A scholar once said, “If you want to hide something from the black man, put it in a book.” Many are wallowing in ignorance which has inadvertently aided the continuous rise of our oppressors. An uneducated and ignorant mass does not know what and when to demand what is rightly theirs.

It is one thing to be happy seeing your brother winning and another thing to know the win is for big things to happen to your community, city and state at large. For all the good things to come, I celebrate you, my brother and I would ask you and your team to take your well-deserved flowers.

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