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Beach festivals and why you should attend the next one

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PHOTO: BellaNaija

Festivals happen all over the world and are often the subject of many adverts, social media posts and campaigns that try to sell you a dream. The sceptics avoid these things, and in Nigeria we are mostly sceptical. I will admit, however, that there are very good reasons for attending festivals and my most recent experience of the Gidi Culture Festival which happened over the Easter weekend reminded me of why festivals are for all!

Let us start at the beginning and look at the etymology of the word festival. It’s a middle-English word that has roots in Latin “Festivus” or “Festa” (plural), meaning “Feast.” It’s a celebration which takes many forms depending on what the organisers are attempting to celebrate. In the case of the Gidi Culture Festival, it is a celebration of music, food, art and the beach lifestyle, which many Lagosians ignore to their own detriment.

Lagos as a state has an extensive coastline, allowing for a few hundred kilometres of beautiful beach, and this realisation was one of the factors responsible for the birth of this particular festival three years ago. Added to that is the fact that Lagos residents have bemoaned the lack of social activities beyond club nights and bar visits. If you take just a moment to reflect, you will find that in the last three weeks, either you or your friends have complained of just this. That is why festivals exist: to take you out of your comfort zone and introduce you to a wider crowd with varied interests and lots of activities.

The event started at noon with a variety of booths pedalling all sorts of wares; games like beach soccer, volley ball, opportunities to check out pimped out Keke Marwas courtesy of @yellowoflagos; and the Lip Sync Battle Africa booth courtesy of MTvBase, where you could mime and act out your rock star fantasies.  In this fourth edition of Gidi Fest, the music concert kicked off towards evening boasting a stellar line up of artistes including; Nneka, Niniola, Davido, Burna Boy, Sautisol, Falana and international DJ Diplo to mention a few. If for whatever reason you do not know these artists, they are a very entertaining line up, to say the least, and they account for just one half of the festival – the music concert.

A GidiFest experience is different for the average Nigerian concert-lover simply because the former’s a lot more relaxed and less pretentious than what you would typically find at regular Nigerian concerts, where VVIP tables occupy front stage. GidiFest had people truly united in their love for the experience and each other. Or perhaps you could simply use that opportunity to find a new love, whatever the case may be, the festival atmosphere is the best time to try something new, including a new way of experiencing old things.

Another important thing to note is that at a festival, you do want to be prepared for changes in weather. It happens all over the world where one minute it’s a beautiful sunny day, and the next, rain clouds are thundering across the horizon and the rain drops falling in tune with the music being played on stage. That was a close call to be honest and almost very nearly ruined the entire night of the music concert, but something amazing happened: the determination of the concert goers to have a good time won through it all!

People were out there in raincoats, rain ponchos, some huddled under the canopies spread across the sand, and still ‘vibing’ to the performances going on. That was one of the most endearing sights I have witnessed in a long time in Nigeria. Things have been so tough here for such a long time yet the resilience of our people shines thorough everything, including the desire to have a good time. By the time Diplo got on stage, a good time was certainly had by all.

I write all this to say that we should learn to throw caution to the wind a little more, and trust ourselves to be able to have a good time in new and purposeful ways of our choosing. If we venture out more into new situations and festivals across this great nation, we will find that we are pushing the limits of the status quo we have set for ourselves, and in so doing, broadening our horizons and living much fuller lives. The weekend is not there for us to simply recount tales of the exact same situation repeatedly. It comes that we may live our lives fully. So the next time you hear of a festival coming up, and I hear that the famous Argungun fishing festival might be making a come-back this year in Kebbi state, make sure you attend!



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