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Rocking Abeokuta with drums festival

By Charles Coffie Gyamfi
24 April 2016   |   4:34 am
The maiden Nigerian Drums Festival was held in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital last week in a colourful ceremony at June 12 Cultural Centre, Kuto.
Drummers in action at the festival

Drummers in action at the festival

The maiden Nigerian Drums Festival was held in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital last week in a colourful ceremony at June 12 Cultural Centre, Kuto. It was organised by the state government as a way of promoting the country’s culture through its rich drumming heritage.

Drummers from 10 African countries and 19 states of the federation participated in the four-day event. Among the audience were the Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Adeyeye Ogunwusi and his wife, representative of the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, Dr. Barclay Ayakoroma, Director General, National Council of Art and Culture, Mrs. Dayo Keshi and Director General of Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation, Mrs. Sally Mbanefo. Others were the Ambassadors of Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Senegal and Ghana.

The State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun unveiled the highest African drum, 16 feet tall, at the well-attended occasion. Amosun assured that the name of the festival, which he said would now be held yearly would be known as ‘African Drums Festival.’

Minister of Information and Culture described the festival as unique, stating that it was in line with the Federal Government’s vision to showcase the cultural heritage of the country.

Those who performed with their various drums included, Ogun State cultural troop, Unique Fingers, Hubert Ogunde Cultural Troop, Ara – the female talking drummer, and Kano State Cultural Troop.

Also, Ooni Enitan said, “There is a wind of change blowing around the country. Nigeria came into being in 1914 and governance has been in existence through the kingship system of government for centuries. Our culture and heritage are strong, binding forces for our unity. We should not forget our source and heritage and I strongly believe that what we are doing here today will dovetail into other states and even other African countries.

“Drums are very important and very common musical instruments in Africa and we should not joke with them; we should continue to work for the unity of Yoruba nation, Nigeria and the continent of Africa. Today, we are very proud that we are rejuvenating our dead culture, heritage and tradition, it is a very good starting point and we should continue to capitalise on festivals like this and continue to feature them.”

Also in his remark, Alake of Egba, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo said it was regrettable that “since FESTAC ‘77, we have never gone back to our roots; we must never abrogate our culture as we can use culture to generate a lot of income because oil is gone and gone for good.”

Everyone was in agreement that the time had come for Nigeria to use its culture to generate income by promoting it through tourism.

THE next day after the opening, performances continued and even heightened, with many drummers who had arrived the feast. Those who performed included, Kegites, a famous campus entertainment group, which entertained the audience for over an hour out of the three-hour performance.

They carried the audience along in their sonorous songs and drumbeats.

Also, Ogun State Dance Troupe, Ogodo Egba, Zealous Singers also performed to the admiration of the audience. The centre of attraction was the performance of a seven-year-old Yoruba rapper, T-rapper. He received a loud applause from the audience. Another attraction was the performance of the local drummers known as ‘Bata Drummers’ led by a 84-year-old, Iya Osa, whose dancing steps were delight to watch even at her advanced age.

Indeed, Nigerian Drum Festival, Ogun State, has initiated a landmark in the annals of Nigerian cultural calendar. African Drums Festival, as it would be known henceforth, is expected to be a rallying point for drummers from the African continent to showcase their talent in drumming.