In the city of Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on the streets around its venue, the Bole Festival pulls together some 8,000 visitors for one day. Considered the biggest food festival in southern Nigeria, it is also a celebration of Niger Delta cultures and heritage.
Bole, a street food popular in the Niger Delta region, is made from plantain: roasted and served with pepper sauce and roast fish or chicken, or with yam or potato. Bole is also popular in western Nigeria, where it is served with groundnuts.
During the festival, food exhibitors demonstrate creative preparations of bole. In addition to the exhibitions, there are food contests, music and comedy performances, and indoor and outdoor games, with prizes.
There are free vendor spaces for local street food sellers, providing them opportunities to gain clients and sales. There are 200 of such stall spaces for small and medium businesses.
The organisers report that the first festival in 2016 had only 300 visitors, and the second had 2,000.
In addition to serving as a promotion of plantain farming, the Bole Festival is also a celebration of local food sellers.
Otosirieze Obi-Young is a writer, editor, journalist, and curator. He is Editor of Folio Nigeria, where he profiles innovators and facilitators in culture: business, art, photography, music, activism, health, food. He has vast experience working in literature. He has sat on the judging panels of The Gerald Kraak Prize and of The Morland Writing Scholarship. He is an editor at 14, Nigeria's first queer art collective, and Curator at The Art Naija Series, a sequence of e-anthologies exploring different aspects of Nigerianness. For three years, Nov. 2016 to Apr. 2020, he led the transformation of the literary blog Brittle Paper into a continental powerhouse, ideating and administering The Brittle Paper Awards, the first by an African publication. His work in queer advocacy has been profiled in Literary Hub. In 2019, he won The Future Awards Africa Prize for Literature. In 2020, he was named among "The 100 Most Influential Young Nigerians." He completed a collection of short stories in 2016 and his novel in 2020. Find him on otosirieze.com or on Twitter & Insta: @otosirieze.