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Heritage Africa scales up Abuja culture landscape

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Heritage Africa opening in Abuja.

An incessant din resounds, as the sun sets on the white, three-storey building in the sprawling estate on the Jabi lake waterfront in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Scores of workers humbly put finishing touches to the facility, which houses the first of its kind artist village complex in Abuja.

Exquisite sensitivities surround every work on the village, which is being moulded to be an all-encompassing complex for the culture and creative industries (CCI).

In the complex is, an exhibition hall, a language institute and a library.

The edifice is also loaded with amazing facilities ranging from production and multimedia studios to restaurant, meeting halls, conference spaces to an anticipated 21 blocks of different facilities dedicated to artists.

Other facilities include, an African fashion home and a classified security network.

The massive arts arena has a nine-hole golf course, where the middle class and low-income earners can fulfill their golf playing dreams.

To crown the facility is a compelling an amphitheatre with state of the arts flexible cover when completed.

In fact, the theatre hosted diverse dance troops, poetry recitation, story telling and masquerade performance.

Yet, it is still evolving, according to the founder of the facility, Mr. Moses Ayoms.

To be commissioned later in the year, the Heritage Africa Village Square (HAvis) is surely going to scale up creative activities in the territory, which for many decades, has been described as ‘a city without a soul’, because what happens mostly there is politics and ‘when a public holiday is declared, everybody runs to Lagos or Kaduna’.

At a media parley and facility tour of its mega project, Ayoms reveals, the facility will feed on the relatively untapped cultural and artistic goldmine of the city.

He states that the sole purpose of embarking on such a mega and multimillion dollars project is to give back to the society, while also promoting African culture.

According to Ayoms, “through arts, I secured a base to employ people.

So, whatever I am doing now is a way of giving back. We have talents in Maiduguri, Kebbi, Cross River and in many other parts.

Some of them can produce paintings better than what we hang in Lagos and sell for millions a piece.

So, with this centre, we can bring them to exhibit their works and even take some of the works to the international market.”

He adds, “I was a good dancer while in school and I participated in dramatic shows. I have also realised that any time I touch creativity, I feel like jumping up.

Of course, through the Heritage Africa Village Square, we will be able to bring back aspects of our dying culture.

I have discovered that the only way we can unite and advance Africa is by developing its arts, crafts, foods and all.”

The creative entrepreneur explains that Terra Kulture, Lagos, was one of the places that inspired him to build Heritage Africa.

“We also intend to raise Millionaires from IDP Camps by taking our platforms there to spot talented young minds in the area of African arts,” he quips.

Ayoms and his team emphasised their position that the project is designed to discover, empower and employ creative minds of all cadre and innate skills.

Thus a platform poised to encourage Nigerians to reach the fullest potentials and create wealth in the spirit of growing Nigeria by giving back to the society often neglected, including the Internally Displaced Persons scattered across the country as a result of Boko Haram insurgency in the North East.

To him, government is not doing badly for the industry, although he believes that it can always do better.

More importantly, he commended the Nigerian government for the tax waiver it gave the creative sector, saying, “That is beyond trillions.

I was extremely glad the day the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, made the declaration.”

Speaking at the relaunch of the Dome recently, another recreational and entertainment facility in Abuja, the Vice President said gains recorded owing to deliberate policies on ease of doing business in Nigeria, has accounted for favourable rating through the World Bank’s global index report on doing business.

According to him, it is investment like this Nigeria needs to push for a similar status with Dubai, which despite being an oil producing country, makes only 20 per cent revenue from oil.

This target, the government, said aligned with its policy, which seeks to discourage over dependence on oil earnings, especially with the entertainment and creative sector reported to have contributed 2.3 percent which was approximately N239 billion to nation’s Gross Domestic Product, GDP in 2016.

Recall that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, hinging on diversification policy, has seized various fora to persuade Nigerians on the need to look beyond the non-oil sector, especially agriculture and the creative industry, owing to its capacity for massive job creation.

Oni, who is a former Director General of the Centre for the Black and African Arts and Civilisation, believes the coming of Heritage Africa is timely.

He reveals it is a welcome development, as it will draw tourists and government attention to the arts.

He explains, “there is no better time for it to come on stream than now.

The creative industry has been yearning for the private sector to make an input.

For many years, we clamoured for the National Endowment Fund. It has yet to take off.

That is why several egg heads, other stakeholders assembled here in Abuja to come up with the mission, aims and objectives of the Heritage Africa Village Square.

The centre is set to empower practitioners and make the arts employ many youths.

Although it is evolving, there is already a performance arena.

There will be training facilities and there is already an MOU with a Chinese institute on language training and exchange.”

Another scholar behind the facility, Professor David Ker, who is a former vice chancellor of Benue State University, expressed appreciation to Ayoms.

“We must appreciate the privilege he has given us.

I remember telling him that art is business, though he keeps saying he wants to give back to society,” Ker says.

It is the business model that a consultant to the project, Ier Jonathan, stresses.

According to Jonathan, “it is an amazing enterprise. Heritage will bring a soul to Abuja.

Nigeria has a lot of talents waiting to be celebrated and projected to the world.

It is time Africa got its own voice heard outside there. But we want to make Heritage experience sustainable.

So, we are looking at the enterprise side too.”

To Molara Wood, writer and author of Indigo, a collection of short stories, “this is a dream come true.”

The literary editor and critic, says, “this is a prayer answered for this arts community.”

No doubts, everybody present at the parley agreed that this first of a kind facility in Nigeria would surely help the culture, creative industries’ narrative.


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