By Eno Louis
THE national arts festival is here again. This time, Edo state will host the nation in October and the dynamic and ebullient commissioner of arts, culture, tourism and diaspora in Edo state, Honourable Osaze Ero, has promised a spectacular outing at NAFEST 2019.
Fair enough, the festival over the years have yielded very little in terms of results and capacity building. For all I know, the dancing and merriment could have been done in the different domains instead of crisscrossing the vast terrain of our motherland called Nigeria.
In sports, for instance, festivals produce world cup participants and Olympic medals. At some point, Nigeria defeated soccer giants Argentina and Brazil to win the Olympic gold medal in football.
Doing anything in the same way over and over again and expecting different results is what the sages call insanity.
It fosters unity. With our beloved nation divided more than ever before, NAFEST can do a lot to unify us. It also drives tourism. Our arts and culture can add a lot more revenue to our GDP if we do the needful.
Many children do not speak their native dialects at home and many cannot count from one to ten in their native dialects? Concerted efforts must be made to address these shortcomings. Offering Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba in WAEC is not enough, it is just a scratch on the surface.
Every dialect and culture must be recognised and accounted for. The teachers should give homework to their pupils in primary schools to write one to ten in their native dialects and identify basic day to day objects and animals in their native dialects too. The scores in these assignments could be maybe as high as 25% of their final exam score.
The music of the various dialects Tiv, Kanuri, Ibibio, Ekiti, Fufude, Edo, Esan, Idoma, Hausa, Igbo, Urhobo, Ijaw etc. could be documented on the internet. A platform could be created ‘Nigerianmusic.com.’ This will yield millions of naira for the supervising body.
There are various Nigerian cookbooks, their presence on the internet is very important too. A’ Nigerian Food.com’ platform could also be created.
At Westminster College, U.S.A, you cannot graduate till you learn how to swim! This sports policy in American schools has led to harvest of gold medals in various Olympia for that country.
Our arts and culture is rich enough to make every citizen comfortable. The world-renowned Benin bronze in Edo state is from just one lineage. Sotheby’s, auctioneers in Europe once sold a Benin bronze piece for $10million dollars!
Our energetic cultural dances can be taught in schools all over the world as aerobics. There should be a deliberate government policy in that direction. Ipi tombi,a South African troupe is selling out in London theatres. What happened to the Ogunde troupes, Baba Sala etc?
Victor Uwaifo got a golden disc by playing a folk song ‘Joromi’ with modern-day instruments like the electric guitar. Fela Kuti started off with folk songs too like ‘oni dodo’.Spicing it up with jazz, Fela’s stage play sold out at Broadway in faraway New york city. This could be a roadmap.
As NAFEST approaches, the departments of fine arts and theatre arts in our universities should research thoroughly how we can maximize the preservation of our culture in a more scientific and financially rewarding way.
Every troupe coming to NAFEST could be sponsored by the private sector. We need just 37 companies and about 40million Naira.
The stock exchange must make it a priority that our cultural values do not go extinct by giving awards and incentives to companies that sponsor troupes to NAFEST.
The collaboration should be total. The Minister of culture can align with the Ministers of finance and foreign affairs. When and if our companies sponsor troupes to NAFEST, and the dances performed are taught in secondary schools and universities worldwide, then the proverbial journey of a million miles would have started. Nigeria, we hail thee. In brotherhood, we stand.