I woke in the morning of August 27th 2016 thinking to myself, “Finally, this day has come”. I had mixed feelings. I was apprehensive because the #GrillandRead team were trying something that had never really been done before. The idea behind #GrillandRead was to sell reading to people in a way that didn’t make anyone feel that they had to be “intellectual” in order to be readers, it was aimed at attracting none readers and assimilating them into the reading commumity. With all due respect to the reading community, book events have somehow become associated with drab “jorks” who must sit, talk and react in a particular way to books.
The focus of #GrillandRead is reading for pleasure. When I read for pleasure I sit with a snack and a drink, lie on the sofa and put my leg up. This is atmosphere we sought to create at the event. Our biggest fear was whether “book people” of our generation were ready for this kind of event. Were they ready to let their hair down and go from “drab” to “fab” ? Were they ready to loosen up and let in converts who were simply leisure readers? Annnnnnnnd what if it started raining (This one I could not shake off 😢)
These thoughts preoccupied my mind as the kids and I prepared for the event. We were to be picked up by 10am so that we could get to the venue well ahead of time. I had even planned to sneak out to attend another book event organised by Winepress Publishers and stay for a few minutes before returning to #GrillandRead. And then everything started going wrong…
First my ride was cancelled.
I remember sitting on the floor and trying my best not to burst into tears. After plenty of back and forth, I opted for a taxi. (Please someone remind me to overcome my fear of driving) We got one easily enough and set out from the traffic ridden Alagbado area of not so Lagos, only to, after crossing Iyana-Ipaja, realise that I had left the tickets at home. The taxi made a turn and took us back home.
And then my ride was back on.
But then it was already 2pm and I was still at Alagbado and it was threatening to rain. Somehow we managed to arrive CCHUB, the venue for #GrillandRead at 3.05pm.
But there was no grill. (😖)
I found that the team coming with the grilled food and drinks were having their share of car troubles. The plan had been that guests would be greeted by the smell of grilled food as they arrived and they could start informal conversations over the grilled food and chilled drinks even before the programme starts. This surely was not going to be the case. So we had to find a way of improvising.
But where were our guests? (😱)
I tried not to go into panic mode. There were just about 5 people already at the event at this time. We sold our first ticket about 10 minutes after I arrived and I thought to myself, “oh well, at least we tried”. But then we sold another and another and another…
And so we started late.
Partly because of all of the above and partly because our guests were mostly Nigerians. And I forgot to change into the dress @skinart made for me or to wear any makeup (If I don’t look good in any of the photos, this is my story and I’m sticking to it 😒)
And so the party started.
@Rezthapoet’s performance set the stage for what some have described as an “amazing”, “lit” and insert some other rave review here. I checked in on Twitter at about 10pm heart pounding only to discover #GrillandRead was trending and not for any bad reason. (🙌)
Everyone we invited came.
It was amazing to have award winning Nollywood Director Dipo Abdul and writer and critic Oris Aigbokhevbolo discuss Book to TV, Getting it Right. It was a highly entertaining conversation which involved the audience in ways I did not even imagine. We had the right mix of book and movie people in the crowd.
@tundeleye and @SeunOdukoya later took the floor to talk about African writing and how much the system needs to begin to respect writers within the continent who have no “international exposure” (People like me 😏 By the way, have you read #SectorIV?) This session ended with a conversation on if Africa was a book… I’m hoping to see this hashtag on Twitter soon.
In between, we snuggled in quizzes to win freebies including #TLGotS and #SectorIV and an auction of two sets of books to raise some money for @TCLinitiative, a charity that wants to establish more libraries for the next generation.
How can I forget @Chika_Jones’ performance that sent chills down everyone’s spine.
And the @Rezthapoet again did a final performance.
Then the grill came.
Everyone was happy to get something grilled finally! @Simplyroli did an amazing job on the grill. She has a secret sauce which she swears by. Time to get into Plankton mode. (If you don’t watch Sponge Bob Square Pants, of course I judge you 😐)
Did I fail to mention that our photog for the day @bowiiii and his crew were busy capturing every moment? I’m sure he will flood our space with his photographs soon.
And so, it ended well.
I want to say a big thank you to @tonypox. I overheard someone saying she has an MC for her wedding. Tony did a wonderful job of keeping the audience entertained.
To the #GrillandRead crew: @skinart3020, @simplyroli, @akintonmide @joyceodukoya, I thank you all.
To @sparklewriters, @farafinabooks, @bookhubng, @BookWawa, @BookBarterNG, @themustycorner, @main_book_cafe @Rovingheights and all the other woke book people that came out to support us today, we say a huge thank you.
To all that supported us with DP change to broadcast this event, those who sent the event to their networks, for believing in us when we had “nothing” to show, I hope we did not disappoint you. Thank you for your faith and love. God bless you.
To @theTPL who believed and sponsored this event.
To God, who held back the rain till we were done. I feel this was a personal favour. (🙆)
And we are back to the drawing table.
We promise that #GrillandRead2 will be even more lit!!! We will certainly keep you posted of the next event date. Follow @GrillnRead on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, we shall keep you updated.
Thank you all. Blessings!