ALITFEST Unveils theme for fifth edition, releases anthology titled ‘On Empathy: Stories & poems’


The Abuja Literary Society is pleased to announce that preparation for the 5th Edition of its Abuja Literary and Arts Festival (ALITFEST), tentatively scheduled for September 2022, is in full swing.

The theme for 2022 is “The Struggling Thriving Artist”. It is intended as a follow-up to last year’s theme “Making Art Work”. The theme for 2020  is”The Art of Empathy”.

“This year, we will be continuing our focus on creative livelihoods by equipping creatives with the information, skills, resources, and networks that they need to thrive,” says Festival Director Teniola Tayo.

Activities for ALITFEST22will include panel discussions, a series of workshops (poetry, fiction, and screenwriting), a Bootcamp for creatives, a poetry grand slam competition, a stage play, an art exhibition, a book and art fair, a fashion show, and a music concert.

The programming will take place primarily in person, but with some virtual activities.

Meanwhile,  UjenyuJoy Sanni has been appointed as the festival’s Deputy Director; before her appointment, she served in multiple capacities in the preceding editions.

As part of the pre-event activities, the festival released an anthology titled ‘On empathy; stories and poems’ made up of short stories and poems from various writers across Nigeria.

“This is our first volume of short stories and poems from some fresh Nigerian voice who entered our Alitfest Arts & Literature Short Story Competition in 2021,” says the Festival Director Teniola Tayo.

The Anthology, which is free to download on the festival website –   includes winning stories from the 2021 ALITFEST/ALS Prize for Short Stories/

In 1st place, we have MazpaEjikem for the story “All His Scents; in 2nd place, we have Favour Ahuchaogu for the story “Of Weddings And Funerals”, and in 3rd place, we have Hymar David for the story “Spirit Husband”.

The winners got a cash prize of N200,000, N100,000 and N50,000, respectively.

Also in the top 5 were TegaOghenechovwen’s “The Guests Of Mama Nazari” and Musa Khalid’s “The Other Sides Of The Sun”.

Special recognition of FamiloniOlubunmi for the story, “A Woman’s Knees are for Suffering”. The story was a favourite of one of the judges, OdafeAtogun, who dedicated his judging fee of N50,000 to Olubunmi. The story was also part of the top 10 entries. The same goes forTegaOghenechovwen for the story “The Guest of Mama Nazari”. It was a favourite of our judge, Hajo Isa, and she has also decided to dedicate her fee of N50,000 to the writer. The story was part of the top 5 entries.

“We had 451 submissions, and four judges read and judged the screened stories over a number of weeks. Our deep appreciation to our judges – Hajo Isa, TJ Benson, Samson KukoghoIruesiri and OdafeAtogun,” the Festival Director Tayo explained.

The Anthology which was commissioned by Abuja Literary Society (ALS), funded by Berliner KunsterProgramm (DAAD), and published in partnership with Geko Publishing (South Africa), has six short stories and 10 poems in the collection from poets of all ages, religion and different styles.

The chairman of the Abuja Literary Society (ALS),Victor Aneliefo, said this about the anthology “On Empathy: Stories & Poems remind us that our future of narrative and fiction is rooted in Nigeria’s incredibly creative past, but they are in the amazingly imaginative minds of the contemporary, young Nigerian writers.”

Furthermore, Phehello J. Mofokeng, an author and publisher in South Africa, said the anthology  “Refreshing new voices from a country that leads the charge of African literature”.

He added that it is “truly a fresh collection that not only exposes but also elevates Nigerian authors as the nurturers of African narrative. This Anthology has to form a critical part of the Abuja Literary Festival, and it needs to make its way throughout the continent”.

ALITFEST is an annual week-long multi-genre festival organised by the Abuja Literary Society (ALS) based in Nigeria’s capital city.