By Jimoh Babatunde
From the entrance to the ‘Regatta Village’ on the old Queen’s Drive in Ikoyi, the waterfront took a new dimension under the hot sun on Easter Sunday with the creeks around Lagos Island, Ikoyi, and Victoria Island submerged in different colours.
The colours derive from the different regatta floats consisting of large fishing boats, ferries, barges and other marine vessels adorned to depict social, cultural, traditional folklores and occupational aspects of the people during the Third Lagos State Boat Regatta.
The boat regatta was one of the activities that attracted so much interest from Lagos residents and tourists at the just concluded celebration of the Lagos Black Heritage Festival which served as a platform for the state to rejuvenate its social cultural values.
As a social activity, the regatta practice is said to be one of the maritime heritages of the coastal and riverine communities in Nigeria. The practice, which is as old as the communities themselves, has been undergoing changes in terms of objectives, innovations and adaptations.
The different communities in Lagos from Agbowa-Ikosi to Ejinrin; from Lekki to Eti-Osa as well as the Ijaw youths and corporate floats, the adaptations reflect the perceptions of crafts of the people as they relate to their immediate environment.
The Ejirin’s float was unique in its white colour depicting the religious belief of the people in the river goddess, Olokun. The leader of the team, Chief Akintola Muyiwa, explained that the regatta evolved as a religious assemblage or propitiatory ceremonies to appease the water gods and goddesses.
“This belief in the water goddess informed the theme of our float as you can see the people on our float dressed in white apparel as well as having Yemoja, the mermaid on the float,” he said.
As the drumming and dancing on the water continued with occasional stunts from other water activities, there were lots of side attractions to engage those present at the regatta village. There were live music performance from Juwon, and ribs cracking jokes from comedians.
The kids were not left out as they engaged in different activities like jumping balloons and other fun at the children’s fun park with many of the kids having their faces painted
Chairman of the Lagos Water Regatta Organising Committee, Olusegun Jawando, said the Regatta Village, designed to accommodate over 10 thousand guests, is a converging point for all lovers of water sports, holiday seekers and “families with their children who are seeking a secured place for picnic on Easter Sunday”.
The Governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola captured the feelings of the people at the different viewing points, especially the ‘Regatta Village’, when he said: “The regatta is a much needed respite from the daily challenge of life in a cosmopolitan city like Lagos with its hustling and bustling, as well as a richly deserved tonic that the body needs to rejuvenate”.
Governor Fashola added that “we have deliberately combined these events: the Heritage Festival, the Boat Regatta and the Lagos carnival into a weeklong activity that signals the emergence of Lagos on the international tourist calendar in the season of Easter which is global holiday period”.
This probably informed the large turn out of tourists who were on hand along the streets of Ikoyi and Lagos Island to witness the carnival that climaxed the week long activities of the Lagos Heritage Festival the following day.
Over 12000 adults and young people, beautifully costumed, paraded the streets to thrill Easter holiday makers with scintillating performances before emptying into the Tafawa Balewa Square for the grand parade.
Governor Babatunde Fashola, accompanied by his wife and other dignitaries, was on ground to the Lagos Carnival which is a beautiful recreation of the age-long tradition of Brazilian Lagos as pioneered by Brazilian returnees.
Mr. John Olaowo who was at the TBS with his family could not but help commend the efforts of the state government as students drawn from all the six educational districts in Lagos filed out one after the other in colourful costumes during the parade.
The parade also featured areas like Ikeja, Ketu, Agege, Ifako- Ijaiye, IKorodu , Ogba, Isolo, Surulere, Odi Olowo, Mushin, Ilasamaja, Oworonshoki ,Awoyaya, Addo Langbasa, Bogije, Epe and Badagry.
Also on parade was the ‘MTN Kulturefest’ band which featured officials of the MTN, the major sponsor of the event. “This event further reinforces our commitment to putting smiles on the faces of our numerous customers across all segments of the society such that they can say, with MTN, my life is enriched,” Oyeyemi, an MTN official said.
He further said that MTN is positioned to provide Lagosians with exciting memories that they will cherish for life. “Through our community festival platform- ‘MTN Kulturefest’, we are providing unprecedented opportunities for communities across Nigeria to appreciate and associate with their heritage in meaningful and more beneficial ways,” he declared.