By Emeka Anokwuru
The Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilisation (CBAAC) has rolled out the drums to rekindle the spirit of the Second World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture, FESTAC ’77, 40 years after it was hosted in Lagos, Nigeria, during the military regime of Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo.
Fifty-six countries and nine states have indicated interest in participating in the weeklong commemoration of FESTAC”[email protected], beginning on November 6, 2017, in Lagos. Giving the highlights of the programme at a press briefing in Lagos recently, Dr. Ferdinand Anikwe, director-general, CBAAC, said, apart from using the celebration to rekindle nostalgic feelings in the minds of those who witnessed the epochal event, CBAAC plans to honour the architect of FESTAC, Obasanjo, with the award of Ruby King of FESTAC and Patron of African Culture. Anikwe said the award was in recognition of Obasanjo’s contributions to the promotion and development of African culture and heritage as well as his role in the emancipation, unity and development of continental and diaspora Africa. He added that another reason was the fact that FESTAC ’77 was held during his administration as Head of State. Other heroes expected to be part of the anniversary include Admiral O.P. Fingesi (rtd), who was chairman of the festival, Alhaji Abubakar Alhaji, Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, Ojaja II, King Sunny Ade, Prof. Victor Uwaifo, Onyeka Onwenu and a host of other eminent Nigerians.
“The 40th anniversary of FESTAC ’77 generally aims to serve as a platform for historical and cultural renaissance reminiscent of the decades-old grand event. Specifically, it hopes to provide avenues for the revival, re-capture and update of the cultural artistry and ingenuity of Black and African peoples for the benefit of present and future generations and offer a platform to intensify campaigns for continued cultural exchange, understanding and unity among blacks and African countries and communities,” he said.
Anikwe added that the event would project and capture 21st Century African creativity in the arts, literature and entertainment, and harness Africa’s potential for the benefit of all black people. It would further extend the frontiers of the quest for the global appreciation of black and African’ contributions to world civilisation and equally facilitate inter-regional cooperation, by boosting trade and networking among African states and the Diaspora Africans.
He said the events would take place at designated centres such as the main bowl of the University of Lagos Sports Complex, the National Arts Theatre Complex, Lagos, Federal Housing Authority field, FESTAC Town and the Golden Tulip Hotel, formerly Durbar Hotel. The events scheduled to hold from November 6 to 11, 2017, under the chairmanship of Senator Ahmadu Adah Ali, would also feature activities such as exhibitions, African food fair, traditional performances, wrestling match, international symposium/colloquium, gala awards nite, and Miss and Mr. FESTAC ’77 pageant. Anikwe said that Prof. Union Edebiri from the University of Benin, Edo State, would present the keynote address at the event. According to the director-general, the establishment of CBAAC was in fulfilment of Nigeria’s pledge to hold in trust all materials displayed at FESTAC’77 for better preservation, and to consolidate on the gains of the momentous festival. This perhaps remains one of the most fundamental legacies of FESTAC ’77. CBAAC, through its numerous activities such as exhibitions, public lectures, conferences, workshops, colloquium, seminars, etc, has been at the vanguard of the promotion and propagation of black and African cultures.