By Japhet Alakam
The 2015 Badagry festival which started on 25th August came to a dramatic end with a cultural extravaganza, spectacles, African magic and award of prizes on Saturday, the 29th of August.
It was a real display of culture as the people of the ancient city of Badagry oncemore, demonstrated to the entire world their ability to preserve their rich cultural heritage despite their contact with the Europeans as all the quarters that made up the city trouped out with their different cultures to the grand finale of the week-long Badagry festival.
The event which was held at the Badagry Grammar School, Lagos, brought together many illustrious sons and daughters of the ancient town and other culture loving enthusiasts who came to be part of the day. It was fanfare as all kinds of masquerades, dancers, fire eaters demonstrated their dexterity during the colourful festival.
It was fun all through as the youths had a field day displaying raw talent, the children, women and men who were dressed in their different traditional attires were also on hand chanting and dancing. Telecommunications giant, MTN were present with their yellow colours which added flavour to the event.
Culture which is the way of life has its way of uniting the people and that was observed during the preparation and the festival proper as it came with one message, peace as seen from the way people from both the ruling and opposition parties came together for a common course.
The day featured many activities, but the major events were the traditional parade by all the quarters that made up the city. They filed out in alphabetical order and marched round the field with the traditional dancers who were seen, carrying decorated calabash pots, local gongs, pots, masquerades, notable among them was the display by the famous Sankweto masquerade which kept the large crowd screaming with excitement.
But apart from the dancers and performers, some actions that touched many and even caused women present to turn away their eyes was when a young man cut off the head of a fowl and put it into his mouth and leaked the entire blood, while another one a fire eater who put an object into his mouth, poured kerosine and lit it inside his mouth and closed his mouth.
Another action that captured the attention of the audience was the beating of the Sato drum, innitially it started with little children who took many by surprise as they were able to beat the drum which is taller than them, but the star attraction was when one of the members of high table, a chief left his seat and joined in the act, an action that was applauded by many.
It was a good day, as despite the financial crunch that affected the planning the organisers AREFO were able to put the festival on. But one observation was that culture is good, it has a lot of benefits, but there is need to inject the human face into it, improve on the good side of it and do away with those ones that are no longer in line with present realities. For example, the young man that cut off the head of a fowl and drank the entire blood raw and the fire eater, all these can endanger the health of the people involved, such can be discarded while they improve on the good ones.
Earlier in his address, the representative of the Akran of Badagry, High Chief Onuosekan Gbewa 1, Jengen of Badagry praised the organisers of the event and the people of Badagry for keeping alive their rich culture, stating that, the festival has put Badagry on the world map as a community that has rich cultural heritage.
On his part, Hon. Setonji, member Lagos State House of Assembly, representing Badagry 2 Constituency said the event was not only the biggest cultural festival in Nigeria, but also attracted numerous tourists to Badagry Kingdom. He advised the youths to be of good behaviour.
Speaking at the occasion, the Founder of Africa Renaissance Foundation (AREFO) and organising chairman of Badagry Diaspora Festival 2015, Mr. Babatunde Olaide-Mesewaku, urged President Buhari to, as a matter of urgency, put an end to their many years of political and economic marginalization in the spirit of change and appoint one of their own into his Federal Executive Council to end the 53 years the Ogu people have tasted power at the centre of Nigeria’s politics.
Olaide-Mesewaku said since the late Oba Dosa Akran of Badagry was last appointed in 1962, as federal minister, no other Badagry indigene has been so appointed at the national level, whereas other parts of Lagos has had eight of their own appointed ministers ever since. He thanked all for their support, especially MTN, who stood behind and urged corporate bodies to come to their aid, as he was not happy with the way many of them that were approached for this year’s event turned them down.
Those that graced the occasion include, Hon. Joseph Bamgbose, member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Eng. Prince Setonji David, Lagos House of Assembly among other high Chiefs and dignitaries.