By Kunmi Ajani.

“Off the shelf”, the debut event of ìse archives held on Saturday the 27th of January at the Institute of cultural studies, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife, on a very beautiful note. It was scheduled to start by 3 but we started about 30 minutes late for logistical reasons, actually people (the participants) came late. The designs and directions had to be put up earlier before 3pm and the place cleaned out and arranged. Everything was ready, the sound and all and we really just had to wait to start.

Within the conducive and chilled atmosphere of the seminar room, guests started coming in, some individually, others in twos. The event kick started then at about 27 minutes past 3. The opening remarks were given by a member of the team (Adebayo Yemi) and then people got to introduce themselves in this terms – their names, what they do and what makes them happy. It was interesting to know that we didn’t just have writers among us, but in addition to that, we had designers, artists, fashion entrepreneurs, bloggers, people who loved rap battles and people who loved to be in their own space.

A reading of a story from the book to be reviewed was done by another member of the team. The very first story “The future looks good” was read. It was a story with a beautiful style and plot but admittedly tragic, this was obvious from the rapt attention paid to the reading and the audible sigh of probably pity from the participants when the reading was over. Participants then, gave their suggestions and thoughts about the story… the fact that there was always an historical and deeper meaning of and influences on things and people was opined by one participant and which in truth was one of the basic ideas of the story.

A book review/chat was up next. There were general discussions about the book, questions were asked and it was highly interactive, for instance a question was raised as to why Lesley Nneka Arimah and indeed many other African Writers like Adichie wouldn’t finish their stories. The participants reacted to that and replies such as the need to leave the readers to their imagination by the inconclusivness and the critical nature of people would be possibly tendered down, some however said they would have simply preferred an end.

The discussion moved on to other authors and books and everyone agreed on the need to have our African narrative and write our stories the way only us can – a complete mix of our history, culture and other influences.

Canapes and drinks were served during the discussion session with a light undertone of music playing in the background.

Participants were also given the space to read or perform poetry and it was gladening to know we still had really good writers. Adebayo Yemi a member of the Ise Archives team went on to talk a bit about Ìse archives and another member (Tobi Okunola) gave the closing remarks. Also, feedbacks were gotten from participants, which were mostly positive and encouraging…

At the end, participants had personal meet-ups and established new connections.

Ìse archives is a space for literature and art lovers. The idea is to collate and archive the works of new and emerging Africans particularly in the creative industry, consequently providing a publishing platform. We believe that we are writing history now and it is important we document the beautiful and thoughtful minds of the average African man and woman for generations to come. Occasionally also, events such as the book reading that was held would be organized mainly to connect people of like minds and passions in a comfortable, preferably informal space.