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NCAC, Edo government flag off NAFEST 2019 in royal style

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A cultura display to flag off NAFEST 2019

• How The Rich Cultural Products Of Nigeria Could Be Marketed
The National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC) recently organised a meeting with the Edo State government to flag off preparations towards 2019 edition of National Festival of Arts and Culture (NAFEST 2019).

The gathering in Abuja, which was convened at the instance of the Director General, NCAC, Otunba Segun Runsewe, witnessed an impressive delegation of Edo State government and people.

The state’s commissioner for Arts, Culture, Tourism and Diaspora Affairs, Osage Osemwegie-Ero led the eight-man delegation.

In his goodwill message, the commissioner assured cultural ambassadors from across the country of the state’s readiness to host the nation.

He noted that the people and government of the state are excited and anxiously waiting to host the country.

“Edo State is prepared. Edo State is ever ready. Both the government and the people are ready to host one of the best festivals ever in the history of NAFEST.

“We have all that it takes to make this year’s festival a remarkable one”, he assured.

The state has at the end of last year’s edition in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, accepted to host the 2019 edition.

It was at the meeting that Runsewe officially announced that the festival, which is in its 32nd edition, would hold between October 19 and 26 in Benin City, the Edo State Capital with the theme, Our Royalty, Our Pride.

Runsewe pledged to build on the gains of the last two editions he hosted since assumption of office.

“Indeed, Edo 2019 promises to be unique in all respect,” he assured.

One of the new introductions into this year’s NAFEST, the D.G noted would be ‘A Day of Royal Splendour, a segment that would hold in collaboration with the Oba Palace.

According to him, the event is in recognition of Benin Monarchy to the socio-cultural activities of the state.

“It is in the light of this that we have incorporated Royalty Day as one of the components of this year’s edition of the festival.

“ Accordingly, representatives of the contingents from all the participating states shall be paying homage to the Oba of Benin in the course of the festival.

“In addition, a special royal exhibition depicting the grandeur of Benin royalty shall be mounted throughout the period of the festival to reflect the richness and glamour of the Benin traditional institution,” Runsewe stated.

The D.G noted that NCAC couldn’t effectively implement its core mandate of preserving, promoting and marketing of Nigeria’s arts and crafts without active and sustained engagement with royal institutions.

He therefore called on traditional rulers to collaborate NCAC in the task of reviving the nation’s cultural heritage and use same as springboard for driving the process of national development.

The highlight of the day was the celebration of rich dress and dance cultures of the Benin people.

Both the DG and members of NCAC staff adored themselves in Benin royal robes to identify with the host state.

There were also Edo State cultural performances featuring Edo State cultural troupe and NCAC performing troupe, both displaying the rich and royal dance style of the Benin people.

Benin City, the venue of Edo NAFEST 2019 is an ancient kingdom spanning over 700 years.

The city prides itself in established monarchy and royal protocol that the Oba who is considered second only to God the creator.

Artistically, most part of Benin royal history is told in bronze casting.

Meanwhile, at the just held yearly General Meeting of the National Association of Nigerian Travel Agencies (NANTA), Runsewe drew a link between culture and tourism and how the rich cultural products of Nigeria could be harnessed to drive the development of Tourism of Nigeria in particular, and the economic development of our nation at large.

“Until, very recently, culture was seen even by our policy makers merely as dancing and drumming. It is now becoming increasingly clear that the culture sector is very strategic to the process of economic diversification and growth. Therefore, government should pay the necessary attention to the sector by supporting it with the required legislation and funds that could engender its growth and development,” he said.

Runsewe believes adequate attention should be paid to the marketing and promotion of our cultural products and tourism destinations. “Many of these products are relatively unpopular or even unknown, because they are not marketed to the outside world,” he noted.

The NCAC boss said, “the UNESCO World Heritage Site at Sukur, Osun Osogbo Groove, Ogbunike Cave, our 700 kilometer stretch of unpolluted sand beaches, Idanre Hills, Mambila Plateau, Obudu Cattle Ranch etc, have not enjoyed the required publicity. It does us no good when stakeholders market and promote their cultural and tourism products of their countries at the detriment of our own.

The media needs to change the narrative on how culture is projected and interpreted. The Nigerian media, especially journalist covering the arts, culture and tourism beat must continually create awareness on the potentials in the sector and how these potentials can be harnessed to advantage.”

He said Nigeria is also one of the largest and fastest growing economies in Africa. Thus, it stands to reap bountifully from the economic benefits of tourism, if the critical sub-sectors like attraction sites, hotels, resorts, parks, tour operating firms and so on, are fully packaged, developed and aggressively marketed.

To him, “one of the key sectors that can be harnessed for the development and growth of the Nigerian Tourism Industry is the culture sector.”

He said, “there is an intricate relationship between culture and tourism. This is because culture provides the basic content for tourism. In fact, there can be no sustainable Tourism without a strong cultural base, as almost all tourism activities are culture based.”

Pointing to tourism-rich economies like the United Kingdom, Israel, China and France, he said there is “a common and consistent pattern of culture-based tourism with culture being the single biggest motivation of tourism.”

He added, “in Europe, the role of Culture in development shows that the arts enrich the social environment with stimulating or pleasing public amenities. In the same vein, China and Australia have underscored the fact that the culture and tourism sector contributes to economic development by facilitating creativity, innovation and self-reflection and as such, recognises culture as a key component of society’s well being. In fact, cultural industries have become for China, the base station from which it develops and updates its technological advancement and well being.”

Harping on the fact that Nigeria is one of the most culturally diverse nations of the world, with over 250 distinct ethnic groups, each with unique culture and cultural products, he said, “the rich and diverse cultural assets of Nigeria have the capacity of sustaining a robust tourism industry and driving the process of socio-economic development if adequately explored.”

While explaining some aspects of Nigerian culture that could serve as key drivers of sustainable tourism and the economic development of Nigeria if fully harnessed,

He said, “Nigeria has very rich and fascinating cultural festivals. Many of these festivals are already in the world cultural map and are attracting the patronage of international audience. Some of the prominent festivals in Nigeria include Osun Oshogbo Festival in Osun State, Eyo Festival in Lagos State, Argungu and Nwonyo Fishing Festivals in Kebbi and Taraba states respectively, Pus Koat and Bit Geomai Festivals in Plateau State, New Yam Festivals in various parts of South Eastern Nigeria, the Durbar in the Northern part of Nigeria, Boat Regatta in South-South and the National Festivals of Arts and Culture (NAFEST), the yearly cultural festival of the National Council for Arts and Culture.

“It is important to note that festival events serve as a catalyst that attracts recreation seekers to destinations with great tourism potential. This means that visitors are likely to spend more days in a given destinations when attracted to the cultural festivals in that destination. This long stay helps to improve the revenue base of the people thereby also impacting on the local economy.

“For a nation as large as Nigeria with very rich and diverse culture, one international festival per State would go a long way in attracting tourists into the country thereby contributing to the development of the economy through spending in hotel lodging, patronage of local cuisines, transportation, purchase of arts and crafts products among others. Accordingly, the National Council for Arts and Culture is developing a festival calendar to enable tourist know when to take holidays in Nigeria and savour our rich cultural festivals.”

He also said almost every community in Nigeria has an area of specialisation in at least one arts and crafts product. “The beauty is that these cultural products are spread in various specialities across the length and breadth of Nigeria. They include Tie and Dye, Bead Making, Carvings, Black Smithing and Brass Smithing, Pottery, Weaving etc. For example, Benin boasts of developed artefacts like Ivory, Iron, and decorative Plaques. The framed craftsmanship of Benin continues to attract world attention at Igu Street describe as ‘Home of Guild of Benin Bronze Casters: World Heritage Site’ which dynamically extends the established tradition of production of Benin Bronze Heads and statues of Obas, Queens and associated ceremonial royal motifs. That there is a growing market for Nigerian arts and crafts products cannot be over-emphasized. The National Council for Arts and Culture is actively promoting and marketing these products to both domestic and international consumers through the International Arts and Crafts INAC Expo, the National Festival of Arts and Culture (NAFEST), various Skills Acquisition Centres across the country and other marketing strategies,” he said.


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