Ben Okri On Freedom

Join us for the rare opportunity to hear from acclaimed novelist, poet and playwright Ben Okri as he interrogates our perceptions of freedom and unites us in a powerful call to arms.

Most of us are fortunate enough to navigate our lives with free will. The choices we make about our jobs, our families, our friends – and simple daily tasks – all stem from a series of personal decisions we ourselves are believed to have made. However, we often feel overwhelmed and powerless when it comes to world events. There are systemic challenges that make us feel this way, that make us feel as if our freedom of choice has no meaningful consequence on the world. 

Like no other time in history, we are able to bear witness to wars and conflicts, the tragic plight of those seeking asylum, the irreversible effects of climate change, the influence of technology on our media, privacy and our very notions of truth – we now see, firsthand, the increasing inequality pervading our communities. Are we free to flourish as human beings in a society with such systemic barriers to doing so? What does freedom really mean if it only exists within our narrow focus of daily life?

Ben Okri is one of the most significant literary voices of our time. We are honoured that he is joining The School of Life in conversation to celebrate his important new novel, The Freedom Artist (Head of Zeus, 2019), and to examine the world in which we now live – and to provide us all with a renewed sense of freedom and empowerment that we can reflect back into our communities.


6.30pm            Doors Open
7.00pm            Welcome and Introduction
7.05pm            Ben Okri on Freedom 
7.25pm            Ben Okri in conversation
8.05pm            Audience Q&A
8.30pm            Event Concludes & Book Signing

Please note, this event is also running in Melbourne on Wednesday 27th February. Please click here for information on our Melbourne event.

This event is suitable for all ages. 


'Nothing is more difficult than knowing what you really think'

– Ben Okri, A Way of Being Free

About Ben Okri

Ben Okri was born in Minna, Nigeria. His childhood was divided between Nigeria, where he saw first-hand the consequences of war, and London, where at one point he found himself homeless when funding for his work fell through. He has won many prizes over the years for his fiction including the Man Booker Prize for his novel The Famished Road (Jonathan Cape Publishing, 1991) and is also an acclaimed essayist, playwright, and poet. His poem about the Grenfell Tower tragedy was broadcast on television and social media around the world.

About Caroline Baum

Caroline Baum is a journalist and broadcaster and the author of ONLY: A Singular Memoir (Allen and Unwin 2017) and a contributor to two anthologies, Rebellious Daughters (Ventura, 2016) and My Mother My Father, On Losing a Parent (Allen and Unwin 2015). She is the winner of the Hazel Rowley Fellowship for 2015 and is currently the inaugural Reader-in-Residence at the State Library of NSW.

About Special Events

Leading writers, economists, historians, philosophers, psychologists, artists and other thinkers offer provocation, inspiration and consolation in the form of advice for living better. Speakers for this strand have been invited by The School of Life to present their own material. Session formats will vary depending on the subject.

Buy tickets for
Ben Okri On Freedom


Major Event
When and where:
  • Tue 26 Feb 2019 7 – 8.30pm
    Powerhouse Theatre, Museum of Applied Science, 500 Harris St, Ultimo NSW 2000



Full price: $55.00
Concession: $45.00
(+ $2 booking fee and 1.5% CC fee) 

Valid concession cards include a Health Care Card, Seniors Card, Pensioner Concession Card and current student cards.

Please note that we are unable to offer refunds or transfers with less than 7 days cancellation notice before the original date.

For ticketing and box office enquiries please call 0481 263 041 or email [email protected].