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FESTAC ’77… Commemorating black and African culture 40 years after

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FESTAC ’77 came to an end with an international symposium to mark the weeklong celebration of Africa’s cultural fiesta held 40 years after ago in Lagos. Prominent Nigerians from all walks of life were in attendance and lent their voices to the theme ‘Black and African Arts and Culture and the 21st Century Imperatives.’

While delivering the keynote address, Prof. Union Edebiri of University of Benin, Benin City, and former director of CBAAC, said despite the fact that the relevance of art and culture is being queried all over the world today, in both the developed and developing parts, “The topic of today raises the question of the value and relevance of black and African arts and culture in the 21st century. Paying attention to the issues of languages, (if languages are not taught), inter-ethnic relations and international relations will not be possible. Evidence has shown that collaborative researches across countries have delivered better results on topics with the aid of language interpretations.”

He argued that the government of the day has placed more emphasis on science and technology. Chairman of the event and professor of architecture at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu, Moses Okonkwo, said for history to be written and for the promotion of black and African arts, the people must be actively involved in the process.

“The dilemma we face today is that the architectural forms in Nigeria has shifted,” he said. “If architecture is traditionally positioned at the conversion meeting places of arts, it can be shown that architecture is a good form of art, culture and tourism which can lead to economic growth.”

On the of sustainability of traditional architecture in Africa, using contemporary methods, another professor of architecture, University of Jos, Uji Zanzan Akaka, noted that traditional architecture is a portrayal of the norms of the society in which the buildings themselves have been made, adding, “These styles are usually not trend-bound, but a reflection of what has been in existence for a very long time.

As found with most architectural traditions, Africa’s traditional architecture has been the subject of many external influences by western and evolving civilizations.”

Director-General, Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilization (CBAAC), Sir Ferdinand Anikwe, said the black race has asserted her rich culture and heritage through cultural displays and brought to fore the intellectual and cultural contributions of black and African peoples to the pool of universal knowledge.

“The 2nd World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture, called FESTAC ’77, was a tremendous undertaking that debunked the erroneous claims from some quarters that the black man has no culture and therefore has contributed nothing to the world’s civilization,” he noted.


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