From: Laide Raheem, Abeokuta
As the Federal Government intensifies its efforts to diversify Nigeria’s economy, President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration has been urged to invest heavily in the development of tourism in the country.
This call was made by prominent participants at the opening ceremony of the African Drums Festival 2017, held at the open ground of the June 12 Cultural Centre, Abeokuta, Ogun state capital.
Those prominent participants included, Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, the Alake of Egbland, Oba Adedotun Aremu Gbadebo, the Olu Ilaro, Oba Kehinde Olugbenle, the Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka and Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State.
The first ever drums festival being hosted by Ogun state, was on Thursday night, kicked off with fanfare and fireworks, while scintillating performances were done by late Hubert Ogunde cultural troupe, the Ekemini Band from Akwa Ibom state, the Atilogwu Dancers, Ara the drummer woman as well as other troupes from Nigeria, Republic of Benin and Togo.
In their respective submissions, the monarchs, described drums as integral aspect of African culture, particularly in Yoruba land and lauded Senator Ibikunle Amosun-led administration for blazing the trail in promoting African culture and traditions.
They noted that the event would not only bring to the fore, the essence of African culture to the world, it would also help greatly in the promotion of tourism in Nigeria and foster unity among African nations.
The traditional rulers, therefore, advised the federal government, to turn its beam light on tourism development as part of its efforts to diversify the country’s economy to other non-oil sectors like agriculture and mining of solid minerals.
On his part, Governor Dickson said drums were not only for entertainment, but a unique medium of communication in African setting.
He, however, advocated federal government and other stakeholders support for the festival imploring other states in the country to emulate Ogun state in the development and promotion of their tourism potentials.
Similarly, the literary icon, Prof. Wole Soyinka, who spoke mostly in Yoruba language, said Ogun has always been at the forefront of innovations in music, arts, literature, education as well as tourism. He added that there was no better time for Nigeria to develop tourism as business capable of earning foreign exchange than now.
Also speaking, the Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Lai Mohammed, described the event as the convergence of African uniqueness.
Represented by the Artistic Director of the National Troupe, Tar Uko, the minister, noted that of all the musical instruments in Africa drums symbolise spiritual and cultural identity in Africa.
He added the festival, no doubt, would promote African unity and trade saying the event would re-invigorate tourism development in Buhari’s administration’s drive for economic diversification.
Declaring the festival open, Governor Ibikunle Amosun, said the first Nigerian Drums Festival organised by the state in 2016, was conceived to showcase the country’s cultural heritage. He added the state was encouraged to expand the scope to include other African nations as a result of the global acceptance the maiden edition received.
Amosun, who declared that the event had come to stay because of the endless positive effects 2016 edition had on the people, described the festival as a veritable platform to showcase talents in drumming and highlight the deep rootness of African traditions and culture.
He, however, disclosed that the state government had written to the ministry of information, tourism and culture, to include in its calendar, African Drums Festival as an annual event which will hold between April 20th and 22nd every year.