By Funmi Olasupo
The Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation Agency, NOA, High Chief Edem Duke has declared October 22nd to 29th, this year to kick off the nationally celebrated National Arts Festival (NAFEST) slated to hold in Calabar, the Cross River State Capital.
NAFEST was initiated in 1970 as a way of promoting cultural integration and providing the platform for the development of indigenous technology and creativity in the fields of arts and science. The week-long NAFEST jamboree attracts participants from 36 states to participate in the competitive and non-competitive events.
The Minister, who announced the date during a press conference on the 2011 NAFEST in Abuja, said the fiesta which is 25th edition and the first in the second half of Nigeria century as a nation is designed as panacea to youth unemployment as well as avenue to celebrate the country’s diverse cultural heritage which will culminate into economic development.
“We are therefore re-engineering the festival content to make it better serve the purpose of job creation, economic empowerment, arresting of youth restiveness and other vices”. Duke said.
Speaking on the theme of the festival; “Nigerian Traditional Music: A vehicle for Economic Transformation and Unity” the minister noted that the theme is apt to x-ray the economic potential of our traditional music in promoting peace, progress and unity of Nigeria.
Duke further noted that “The objectives of the festival among which are to serve as avenue for talent hunt, avenue to display creativity, exchange ideas, skills and indigenous technologies and it is also an avenue for using culture to galvanize the citizenry towards achieving out national aspirations including the vision 20, 2020”.
He said since the gracious agreement by the cross river state to host NAFEST 2011, preparations have been in top gear by all stakeholders at both state and national levels towards the successful hosting of the fiesta.
According to Duke, this will afford the 36 states and the Federal Capital territory to exhibit and promote their cultural potentials as well as attract visitors from within and outside the country, adding that the festival will provide opportunity for stake holders in tourism business in the state to key into the programme as the whole of Nigeria will be in Cross River State.
He expressed satisfaction with the good work done in the state to place Cross River State in the tourism Calendar in Nigeria and in particular, efforts made by Governor Liyel Imoke to position the state as the cultural capital of Africa.
“It is also my expectation that such festivals as the national Festival of arts and culture (NAFEST) and the Abuja Carnival shall provide resource materials that can be harnessed and dovetailed to becoming a festival on the African continent which will attract the participation of Africans and the Blacks in Diaspora”. He added.
The fiesta promises to feature activities including; performances in dance, drama and music. In addition, there will also be held an intellectual forum for scholars and cultural administrators for the discussion of issues of cultural development, youth empowerment and nation building.