Africa’s drive in cultural engagement, the International Arts and Crafts expo (INAC), brought to bear another refreshing dimension of critical marketing of Nigeria’s rich crafts and cultures in a COVID-19 new normal economy.
The event, hosted by the National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), certainly was a reflective jacket, signposting the very ingenuity and resilience of Nigeria’s indigenous culture enterprenueurs and administrators to survive beyond COVID-19’s challenges.
Lessons, I mean cultural marketing lessons, learnt and on showcase were as varied and spectacular as the campaign itself.
Oh, yes, the 13th INAC expo revealed the strategic presence of the culture and crafts, while other sectorial players waited on the disappearance of the new normal before venturing a position, possibly a life line effort close to call.
Give it to Otunba Segun Runsewe, director-general, NCAC. The INAC expo, which climaxed last weekend in Abuja, drew the presence of about 11 states and 16 countries, an all-time award-winning effort to make hay while the COVID-19 new normal takes flight out of Nigeria.
Back to the critical efforts to showcase the very intrinsic values of our cultural heritage market to the world. Ekiti State refigured and reanacted the very best values as the destination with home-grown efforts in championing cultural tourism endowments.
It was not a surprise that Ekiti State came first in the overall diadem position, leaving behind Nasarawa, fourth, Ogun and Kaduna states on the third rung, while Kastina State and the FCT shared the second position.
Ekiti again took the front stage in multimedia marketing opportunities plane, rafia works and the best promotional pavilion, all grand indicative factors concerning what to expect at the National Festival of Arts and Culture (NAFEST) to be hosted by Ekiti State next year.
While the other participating states at INAC expo got recognized for very robust presence and engagement, one cannot fail to note the very determined efforts of Ekiti State to change its cultural tourism narratives.
Professor Ojo Bakare, Ekiti’s Culture and Tourism Commissioner, ever mercurial, is the first dance professor in the cultural academic engagement in Africa, no doubt, growing the state’s presence within the diversity and richness of Nigeria’s domestic tourism economy.
Since his appointment by Ekiti State governor, John Kayode Fayemi, about a year ago, ‘Dance Professor’ Bakare, has left no one in doubt about his very academic cultural excellence and practical experience as the former artistic director of the National Troupe and Abuja Carnival and years as consultant “insider” to the growing cultural narrative across Nigeria, which he deployed to the advantage of Ekiti’s cultural tourism rebirth.
Professor Bakare ensured through the first bidding process for hosting rights of NAFEST introduced by NCAC to put asunder the dreams of contending states such as Anambra and Taraba. At the technical committee meeting a fortnight ago in Jos, Plateau State capital, the ratification of Ekiti as the next host state for NAFEST was a mere walkover.
Professor Bakare did his homework well. He bidded well within the framework of the expectations and value chain ingrained in the profiling of NAFEST, under the watch of Nigeria’s culture administrator and icon, Otunba Segun Matthew Runsewe.
Inside knowledge of the bid process for NAFEST entails the all-important visibility and willingness of any interested state government(s) to create and develop infrastructure and enabling environment that will sustain the awareness and creativity of cultural tourism economy, thus, repositioning practitioners and growing rural development.
The development also revealed that the government and people of Ekiti State have put in efforts to make a statement that Ekiti, beyond an academic economy, can double its cultural tourism presence, attracting not just Nigerians but the whole world to its new world of cultural reality and merchandise.
December, Ekiti State will host its cultural festival (Ekitifest) in preparation for NAFEST, all geared towards making Ekiti truly first not only in cultural tourism but a destination close to the heart of humanity.