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Eko Oni Baje New Yam and Beach Festival gets underway





Eko Oni Baje New Yam and Beach Festival opened yesterday at Ibeju-Lekki, Lagos, with fanfare and much fun. The festival is a veritable platform for the growth of Nigerian tourism through the use of culture. It ends on 0ctober 2, 2016. The 4-day event coincides with World Tourism Day and would feature a lot of interesting activities.

Centre for Black Africa Arts and Civilization [CBAAC], Nigerian Tourism Development Council [NTDC] and Taofic Humanitarian Assistance Foundation and others are supporting the project.

At a press briefing was held at Onibeji palace, Ibeju Lekki, Lagos, to herald the festival, Coordinator, Eko Oni Baje New Yam and Beach Festival, Ozo Chinedu Idezuna, said the eight edition of the yearly New Yam Festival celebration platform would showcase artworks from established and talented artists. Represented were government functionaries, community leaders, counci chiefs, representatives of Airtel Nigeria, tourists among others.

Idezuna pointed out that beach tourism has been relegated to background in Lagos and Nigeria as a whole, and said since Ibeju Lekki is adorned with beautiful coastlines, there was need to expose the rich potentials of Lagos beaches and the tourism value inherent in them. He added that the beaches provide a rich ambience for fun, sports and entertainment but that they were less patronised.

Deputy Director, Nigerian Tourism Development Council [NTDC], Mrs. Annette Chioma Ibe, tasked youths to embrace culture as sybolised in the foods, beliefs, customs and religions of Nigeria for peaceful coexistence.

“We drive tourism and culture because they are twins that go together to boost nation development,” she noted.

She stated that in the past eight years and since inception, NTDC has supported Eko Oni Baje New Yam and Beach Festival and previous Eko Boat regatta. She lauded festival coordinator, Idezuna, for the initiative in bringing Igbo culture to Lagos to foster and promote cooperation, ethnic unity and peace.

Founder of Taofic Humanitarian Assistance Foundation, Chief Taofi Ahmed, told The Guardian said the estimated 50,000 visitors, who would come to the New Yam and Beach Festival would benefit from the performances from children and youth trained by Taofic Humanitarian Assistance Foundation.

Director General, Centre for Black Africa Arts and Civilization [CBAAC], Dr. Anikwe Fredinand, praised Africa for being the origin of rich cultural heritage and festivals. He recalled that FESTAC ‘77 brought people from all over the world to Nigeria to celebrate African culture through dances, art exhibitions and attires among others. He said FESTAC ‘77 would be 40 years by next year, adding that there would be a huge event that would bring people from around the globe again in commemoration of that historic cultural event. He advised that children should adopt Nigeria’s positive cultures early in life, including the promotion of indigenous foods, local clothes and designs among others and adopt them as part of their own heritage.

The high point of the event was the performance of youth in a cultural dance. There were exhibitions of hand-made products in beads and bags, foods and snacks, shoemaking, fashion design and, hairstyling.

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