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How Nigeria’s cultural art played lead at Algiers’s PANAFEST

By Japhet Alakam, with agency report
The Federal Government’s Policy of economic diversification and direct foreign investment procurement efforts, received a boost with the overwhelming reception of Nigerian Craft products at the forty (40) year old continental Pan African Cultural Festival, held in Algiers, the Algerian Capital City, from July 5-20, 2009.

The National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC) which has been on the vanguard of repositioning Nigerian arts and crafts took the campaigns to the continental frontiers, by hoisting the Nigerian Flag among the thirty seven (37) nations that participated in the Craft Exhibition.

During the exhibition the NCAC Exhibition stand was awash with choice utilitarian and decorative craft products. Crafts on display included wood carvings, fibre glass, Jewellries, Fabrics, Leather Products and Cane Chairs.

A striking feature of the products was that apart from aesthetics and utilitarianism, they exuded Kinetic energy and synergy in the projection of the social, political and economic values of the Nigerian and African people. The everyday life of our people was explored in the cow horn design of the Goje Player, Fruit Seller, Shekere Player and Palm Wine Tapper. A celebration of children and motherhood was reflected in several flower vases.

The potriat of the Nigerian President, the Minister of Culture and the National Orientation and the National Coat of Arm were given expression as a mark of the limiteless opportunities which the Craft Medium holds to project the people and culture of Nigeria at national and international levels.

The Algeria Minister of Culture, Mrs. Khalida Tourin, was delighted to be at the Nigerian Exhibition stand as she spent quality time with her entourage and enjoyed both the exhibition and the Cultural performance by the Nassarawa Dance Troupe which literally made the Nigerian exhibition, the toast of the day. And as a mark of honour to her a crafts souvenir was presented to her on behalf of the Honourable Minister of Culture, Tourism and National Orientation Jubril Gada..

The Crafts exhibition in Algeria came on the heels of Nigeria’s Campaigns for local, national and international interest, investment and patronage of craft products as a way of boosting revenue generation, empowering the people and arresting Youth restiveness.

In a reception for the delegates organized in the Nigerian Embassy in Algerian ,the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Culture, Tourism and National Orientation, Dr. Goke Adegoroye charged the Nigerian Ambassador to embellish the Nigerian House with Craft materials and products.

This the ambassador did not waste time to do as he took immediate delivery of the NCAC booklet on Nigeria Crafts, Shantu Musical Instrument, Burnt-Design decorated calabashes, large carved FESTAC Mask and a Complete set of leather Puff. The items are to serve as a window into the immense possibilities and potentials of the Nigerian Craft Industry, now yearning for investment as that will help in the nation’s quest to diversify the economy and provide an alternative sourc
e of revenue to oil.

The crafts exhibition in Algiers have come and gone but the awareness it generated is expected to be a catalyst for International demand for craft products. Although the National Council for Arts and Culture has the National Gallery of Craft and Design to provide direction, a lot needs to be done to meet the challenges in the sector.

A lot of synergy is needed to assist the NCAC to enhance her leadership position in fast-tracking the development of the Craft Industry at National level as well as supporting the states Councils to realise their potentials.

The corporate bodies, banks and other financial institutions are encouraged to look into this area and partner with them as a way of ploughing back to the society and empowering the citizens.

The Nigerian delegation to the Pan African Cultural Festival in Algeria was led by the Honourable Minister of Culture, Tourism and National Orientation Mr Jubril Bello Gada , the Permanent secretary Dr. Goke Adegoroye , NCAC Board Chairman Chief Ebenezer Babatope , NCAC Executive Director Mr. M M Maidugu, Deputy Director Arts and Design Mrs. Chinwe Abara and the Chief Commercial Officer (Crafts) Mr Momoh Afegbua.

In a chat with Mrs. Chinwe Abara, she said that “ Panaf 2009 in Algeria was good as the Algerian government took good care of the delegates and provided adequate security” continuing she was of the view that “such exhibition would benefit future Craft programmes in Nigeria such as the National Festival of Arts and Culture (NAFEST) and African Arts and Craft Expo (AFAC) which are organised by the NCAC”.

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