More than anything else, the 11th edition of the International Arts and Crafts Expo (INAC) in Abuja acted as pool for all things culture.
The eight-day event attracted 27 countries from four continents, while Nigeria, the host, had representation from
the major geopolitical zones as well as the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
The INAC expo thus created opportunities for trade and investment in the economy, with a view to promoting integration and synergy between players in the sector to boost economic and social development as well as provide platforms for entrepreneurs to showcase their goods and services and also broaden their contacts.
Otunba Olusegun Runsewe, director-general of the National Council For Arts And Culture (NCAC), the organiser,
while dwelling on the theme “Networking Nigerian Craft to the World,” said the world has become a global village.
He stressed that Nigeria was determined to be a major stakeholder in global affairs through its cultural tourism offerings and promotion of sustainable peace throughout the world.
Speaking at the closing ceremony of the event, Otunba Runsewe noted that despite the economic importance of the expo, it was vital to keep an eye on the cultural and social value of the event, which encouraged tourism, cultural exchange, unity, social cohesion, diversity and mutual understanding among states, countries, participants and visitors alike.
Runsewe admitted that the whole world was under siege. According to him, the restiveness of the youth and the terrorism of our time have made the world a theatre of onslaught and man’s inhumanity to man now at its peak.
It was in the light of these challenges that Runsewe felt the need to use the 2018 expo to launch the international cultural diplomacy for peace, a symbolic initiative, which seeks to preach peace to all men on earth, build bridges of peaceful coexistence and promote harmonious living.
Peace is a precondition for progress, he continued, adding, no meaningful development can take place in a social environment devoid of peace. “This is why we must all work together in bringing about lasting and sustainable peace. We will spend billions of dollars to amass weapons of war and destruction, but it takes only a heart of conviction to say no to violence.”
“Culture will give us peace and freedom and let it be known that Nigeria is a home of peace and those who seek peace should come to us. It is a new window to the world,” he declared.
The representatives and diplomats from the 27 countries and four continents were then invited to the podium at the FCT Exhibition Pavilion and Events Centre, beside the International Conference Centre, for the symbolic decoration as Ambassadors of Peace. They were all given a white handkerchief each, and a special message to their home government while the caged white pigeons were set free by Nigeria’s Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, who also chaired the colourful occasion.
Onu, who was impressed by the diplomatic masterstroke, noted that Runsewe has become the official Peace Ambassador of Nigeria adding that the large turnout and broad participation was an eloquent testimony of Nigeria’s preparedness to preach peace globally.
He commended the organiser for putting up a world-class event and urged NCAC to sustain the project in the years to come as veritable tool for global peace.
Earlier in the week, some countries took special days to showcase their tourism and cultural endowments. India, for instance, flew into Abuja the Haryana folk dance group, led by Mr. Ranjit Singh Sorout, thus rekindling 60 years of friendship between Nigeria and India.
It was a great night of entertainment, and a fine moment when the dancers took to the stage to display great folklores and dance drama, bringing home to the audience the cultural essence of India, often only watched second-hand through television channels.
Bangladesh, India’s neighbour, also put its best foot forward with a cultural ensemble that held the audience spellbound through folkloric expressions, very similar to India’s, but different in delivery.
At the local level, Ogun State had a field day as its troupe put up a great cultural performance. The popular Adire, a local fabric, was on display in various colours, adorned by half of those in the hall, while officials from the
Ministry of Arts and Culture, Abeokuta, ensured that light meals indigenous to the state were served to the visitors’ relish.
Trinidad and Tobago, the Caribbean Island in the West Indies known for its carnival celebration and as the birthplace of steelpan, the limbo, and music styles such as calypso, soca, parang and chutney, brought electrifying dance steps to INAC.
Also known for promoting calypso music derived from African music, the calypso genre has now become a very important feature of the annual carnival in Trinidad and Tobago.
Some of the countries that took part at the expo included Syria, Tanzania, Mexico, Mali, Sudan, Niger, Burkina Faso, South Korea, China, and the Gambia. Others were Hungary, Venezuela, Pakistan, Iran, Cameroun.
There were awards and certificates presented to participants, exhibitors and government agencies. Ogun State emerged the Best Exhibitor, followed by Kano and Kaduna. Award for e-marketing went to China and Pakistan, while Best Networking award was won jointly by Bangladesh and India.
Best Product Design (leather) award went to Kano, Katsina and Jigawa, woodworks went to Ogun and Bauchi while calabash decoration award was won by Gombe and Kano.
On display at the expo also were rich and diverse crafts, cuisine, fashion,and cultural performances that provided great opportunities for effective and focused promotional and marketing incentives for sponsors.The expo showcased apparel and embroidery, brass and metal designs, music and dance, coral and jewellery designs, classic ceramics, decorative pottery, souvenirs, exquisite leather and interior designs, beads, handmade bronze, magnificent cane, raffia and wood designs, international menu, and various other consumables.
The event also featured dinner, free medical check-up, free skills acquisition/waste to wealth training programme, investment forum and several other trade and travel products.