THE traditional tourism feature of Lagos State was on display weekend as the state organised yet another boat regatta in line with the vision of Governor Ambode to showcase the tourism values and beauty of Lagos waterways and market its potentials to local and foreign tourists as well as investors.
The boat regatta , which was held on Easter Sunday, served as a family recreation for the benefit of Lagosians and tourists. The beautifully decorated boats from Badagry, Epe, Ikorodu, and Lagos Island recreated the old riverine life in Lagos among the older generation and the pristine tradition.
Boat regatta has always been an annual festival celebrated in virtually all riverine areas of Lagos State. It is associated with rowing and sailing. By official records, the first boat regatta was staged in 1933.
However, prior to this period, the people of Agbowa, Eredo, Ejirin, Ketu, Epe, and some parts of the state had staged so many boat regattas.
It was gathered that the ceremony was designed to appease the goddess of the sea, Olokun, thanking her for her blessings and appealing for future protection against accidents on the sea as well as success in fishing expeditions.
Just like in the past, the Sunday boat regatta saw colourful displays of tastefully decorated canoes, boats, paddles, dances as well as songs in praise of the water deity. One of the Badagry division boats had the popular Zangbeto masqurade.
The five boats from Badagry called Oko Shi, it was gathered, took them four days to decorate and the boats are used to welcome people to their domain and one of them takes over 20 passengers.
In order to reflect the peculiarities of changing social environment, boats from Epe, Ikorodu and Lagos Island showed the refinement in organisation, scope and celebration that the regatta has undergone in recent years.
Nowadays, emphasis is not only laid on the symbolic significance of the people relating with their goddess through rowing, sailing, dances and songs, but the aesthetic value attached to decorated canoes and boats as well as artistic display of fishermen on the sea to attract visitors and tourists alike.
Thus, unlike in the past where it was limited to the display of the fishes caught on the high seas and coasts by the fishermen, nowadays, riverine Lagos indigenes engage in dances and rituals reflecting water creatures and so are the costumes of the performers.
So colourful was the boat regatta that the Lagos State Deputy Governor, Dr Idiat Adebule, Oba of Lagos, members of the State Executive Council led by Mr. Steve Ayorinde, Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, and other dignitaries, were among the crowd that witnessed this year’s event.
Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, said: “The colourful displays and parades of culture and tradition on our waters reassure us of the treasure that our waterways represent and why we must nurture this God-given asset as a major tourist attraction.
“We have made a modest investment in a few luxury boats that are meant to target tourism promotion and the Lagos lagoon boasts of perhaps the busiest water route in West Africa.
The Governor represented by his deputy said: “There is a vibrant boat club with members’ boat collection that is astonishing; there is a growing interest in surfing and our waterways are acknowledged as one of the best for scuba diving in the world.
“This is why our determination will not waver in making our waterways cleaner and safer with further investments and partnerships in the channelisation of the water routes, in the provision of more standard jetties and ferries,” he said.
Mr Steve Ayorinde said the event was a cultural and entertainment funfair meant to showcase part of the state’s rich aquatic cultural asset.
The boat from Agbowa-Ikosi in Ikorodu emerged the best regatta boat, Fanti Popo-Aguda boat from Lagos Island emerged second while Olorunda from Badagry came third.