The second Garden City Literary Festival took place in Port Harcourt from Wednesday 23 September to Saturday 26 September 2009. Main Guest Authors were Ngugi wa Thiong’o, J.P. Clark, Buchi Emecheta (who was absent due to ill health but sent in a goodwill message), Sefi Atta and Igoni Barret. Also present to conclude their Nine Writers four Cities tour were authors; Tade Ipadeola, Jumoke Verissimo, Abimbola Adunni, Joy Isi Bewaji,, Toni Kan, Lindsay Barret, and Alamutu while author and motivational speaker, Fela Durotoye, challenged older children and teachers to raise the standard for excellence in education.
Facilitators at the festival included Nana Ayebia Clarke from the United Kingdom, a team from Book Builders (Ibadan), and a team from the British Council in Lagos. The keynote address was delivered by Ngugi wa Thiong’o and was titled ‘Languages as Bridges: Building network against
Linguistic Feudalism and Darwinism’.
The festival was declared open on Wednesday morning by the Executive Governor of Rivers State, His Excellency the Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi. The Governor then led guest writers and other special guests on a tour of the Garden City Book Fair where over 40 exhibitors were on display. Later that evening there was a Command Performance and dinner at the Governor’s Lodge. The Choral Voices of Port Harcourt, led by Octagenarian Alabo (Dr.) C.I.T. Wokoma entertained the audience after which students of the university of Port Harcourt performed J.P. Clark’s The Wives Revolt.
Over the 3 days that followed, various workshops for writing, editing and publishing took place. Ngugi led a master class for 2 days. Participants in all workshops had to pre-register and received a certificate of participation upon completion. There were also reader/writer interactive sessions as well as open sessions where people could present their works to an audience and get feedback. Saturday was a special day for children as they had a presentation of arts and a drama which they had prepared during the festival. Children with outstanding works of art, essays and short stories in the workshops were recognized and rewarded with bag of exciting books.
Over 2000 people are estimated to have attended the 2009 Garden City Literary Festival which held at the Hotel Presidential. This event was widely covered and publicized by local and national press as well as the BBC Radio and Dutch Station.