Fascinating Cultural Exhibition at Eko NAFEST 2022 – THISDAYLIVE

Charles Ajunwa reports that 29 States and Abuja showcased Nigeria’s cultural diversity at the 35th National Festival of Arts and Culture in Lagos

It was a beauty to behold during the official opening on Wednesday of the 35th National Festival of Arts and Culture (NAFEST) organized by Lagos State in collaboration with the National Council of Arts and Culture ( NVC).

Mobolaji Johnson Arena, formerly known as Onikan Stadium, venue for this year’s edition titled “Eko NAFEST 2022” with the theme “Culture and Peaceful Coexistence”, was packed with many people struggling to outside to get a glimpse of every action inside.

Melodious songs from three bands from the Army, Navy and Air Force filled the air with many squirming in their seats. Everywhere became electrified as the Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who is the chief host of the event, arrived and embarked on a 10-minute stroll around the stadium . The excited crowd cheered him on.

Sanwolu, the chief host

Sanwo-Olu, who was accompanied by his wife, Ibijoke who is Mama Eko NAFEST 2022, while declaring the festival open, said the main objective of organizing the event was to unite and highlight the rich and diverse culture of Nigeria.

He said: “I am happy that what we are celebrating here today is our unity in diversity, our rich heritage and our cultural heterogeneity.

“The Arts and Culture Festival is a seven-day national event in which all 36 states of the federation, including the FCT, participate to showcase their rich arts and culture in various competitions, such as Ayo, archery , traditional cooking, essay writing, etc. much more. This makes the entire event a cultural marvel to embrace.

“Immediately after the Nigerian Civil War, culture and sports were identified as major unifying factors for a country recovering from the horrors of war. This decision gave rise to the creation of the National Arts for Festival (which later evolved into the National Arts and Culture Festival) and the National Sports Festival.

“I am proud to state that the Lagos State Government hosted the very first edition of NAFEST, in 1970 and again in 1988. This administration, as part of efforts to realize our entertainment and tourism pillar of THEMES Agenda, is deliberate to promote all aspects of Tourism, Arts and Culture. The State is therefore delighted to have won the rights to host NAFEST 2022, which was strongly contested by three other States.

“In fact, accepting accommodation rights is a demonstration of my love for cultural progress and exemplifies the true spirit of Lagos and its accommodating nature towards visitors.”

The governor, who wore a native Ankara cloth printed with his face, said his administration has become accustomed to supporting, associating and collaborating in activities that will further strengthen our cultural heritage and promote our unity in the diversity.

“We have supported community festivals such as Popo Aguda Music Concert, Coconut Festival (also called Agunke Fest), Asa Day, Isese Day, Olokun Festival and many more. These are events that attract tourists from all over the world to our great state. We have also supported organizations such as Q Dance productions, which have integrated our culture into a musical production called Re-incarnation, which has been broadcast in various countries around the world.

“The decision to host this year’s edition was born out of a desire to support and showcase our arts, crafts, entertainment, nightlife, people, temperament and the aquatic splendor of our beloved state. .

“Lagos State has actively participated in previous editions of the festival held in other states and we have come out on top in several of the activities so I am confident that we will undoubtedly achieve the feat at home,” said Sanwo-Olu, enthusiastic.

The governor also implored Nigerians to make the right choices in electing their leaders in next year’s elections.

“Tis campaign season as our nation’s general elections are due to be held in the first quarter of next year. As political office holders continue to engage the electorate at this time, it is important to reiterate the message of unity and peaceful coexistence provided by the NAFEST platform.Rather than seeing the differences in our language and culture as a divisive factor, I implore us to see them as one of our greater resources to embrace, celebrate and use to our collective advantage.

The Governor also commended the Director General of the National Arts and Culture Council and the Chairman of the National Organizing Committee of the 35th National Arts and Culture Festivals, Otunba Segun Runsewe, for his relentlessness that he attributed to the success of the cultural festival. .

As Runsewe preach peace

Runsewe, who is the Chairman of the World Crafts Council (African Region), said Lagos has continued to be a unifying and rallying ground for the development and progress of the country.

He implored Nigerians to take inspiration from Lagos, saying the state has over the years maintained peaceful co-existence among all tribes residing in Lagos.

Runsewe said, “On November 13, Governor Sanwo-Olu makes history, he will be the first governor in the history of our country to declare and unveil the 37 wonders of Nigeria. It takes a governor with goodwill and ability to say he wants to host NAFEST so that other arts from Nigeria can come to the state.

A dream come true

Lagos State Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Ms. Uzamat Akinbile-Yussuf, who was publicly commended by the Governor for her good work, said her ministry had initiated the preparation process for NAFEST of this year from last year, immediately Lagos State was announced as the host of NAFEST 2022 during the closing ceremony of the 2021 edition in Ekiti State.

According to her, “Lagos prides itself on being a peaceful state, known to live together and co-exist in unity, despite differences in ethnicity and language, Lagos remains a point of reference for what an ideal state exemplifies. As Honorable Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, I would like to implore everyone present here, especially our contingents from other states across the country, to take the opportunity of this festival to explore the Abundant tourism potentials in different parts of Lagos State.

“Here in Lagos, our nightlife remains top notch, being a 21st century economy. You have heard of the popular phrase ‘Eko for Show’ which echoes the creativity, pomp and pageantry unique to Lagosians. This cultural festival, however, offers you the opportunity to discover different entertainment shows in this city of excellence.

The 29 participating states and the FCT in the colorful parades showcased their indigenous arts and culture.

James C. Tibbs