By Osa Amadi
The 13th International Arts & Crafts Expo (INAC) 2020, which held in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja from 5th – 6th of November, is significant in many ways.
First and foremost, it heralds the return to life of travel, tourism, physical interactions and communion after periods of isolation, social distancing and virtual communications occasioned by the covid-19 pandemic which shook humanity, even till today in some countries.
It was an innovation of Otunba Segun Runsewe, Director General of National Council for Arts & Culture and host, in what he called a Drive-in Virtual Exhibition. “The Drive-in Virtual Exhibition is a unique initiative employed by the Council to dovetail into the ‘new normal’ posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. I must commend you all for the strict adherence and total compliance with the protocols as recommended by the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19,” Otunba Runsewe said.
The pandemic itself could have been a very valid reason for cancellation of the 2020 INAC as many other events were cancelled in 2020, but it held because it was programmed by Providence through Otunba Runsewe to ease us back to normal life as well as to the new normal. Runsewe highlighted this when he proclaimed that “Covid-19 is a visitor” so this is “Bye-bye to Covid-19”.
Since the African Arts and Crafts Expo was rebranded to International Arts & Crafts Expo, it has been a platform and important annual arts and cultural event for the networking of Nigerian crafts to the world, which was exactly the theme for this year’s event that held in an open space at the expansive Sheraton Hotel and Towers, Abuja. The usual attendance of INAC by many countries, especially foreign missions in the country, is a testimony to its international status.
There was another way in which INAC 2020 was significant. It was co-incidentally taking place in the middle of, perhaps the most important election so far in the history of the United States of America. Those who see events as pre-ordained see parallels in INAC 2020 struggle to return us to normal life and the struggle of Americans to return their great country to what it used to be. Similarly, as we have been savoring the great achievements of INAC 2020 since the past few days, so have majority of Americans been savoring their achievements in their 2020 election.
The carefully programmed event featured segments such as cultural performances, tour of exhibitions by guests and participants, showing of audio-visual documentaries from participating states and countries and musical interludes by a wonderful live band that took every guest down memory lanes and back to contemporary popular tunes under a cool open-air evening into a cool night.
At the end, certificates, prizes, and awards were given to states and countries that participated in this years’ edition. Ekiti State came first in the Overall Winner category, followed by the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and Katsina State. The 3rd position among the Overall Winners was went to Ogun and Kaduna States, while the 4th position went to Nasarawa State.
Then the following Special Awards went to the following states: Post Covid-19 Compliance – Kaduna, Anambra and Ogun; Most Consistent (participant) – Kaduna; Modern Mobilization – Zamfara, Adamawa and Kwara States; Best Pavilions – 1st – Ekiti, 2nd – Nasarawa, 3rd – Katsina; Best Product Design (Metal Works) – Anambra; Textile – Nasarawa; Embroidery (Textile) – Zamfara; Calabash Design – Adamawa; Pottery – FCT; Woodwork – Kwara.
Other Special Awards included: Multimedia – Ekiti; Fiber Glass – Kaduna; Contemporary Textile – Ogun; Raffia Works – Ekiti; Best Product Innovation – FCT; Contemporary Marketing Strategy – Ogun; Cultural Documentation – Katsina.
The countries that received certificate of participation included Republic of Cameroon, India, Kenya, Libya, Bangladesh, Venezuela, Syria, and Ghana.
In all, 12 states of the country participated.
The hope amongst guests, participants, and host of INAC is for a bigger, happier International Arts & Crafts Expo in 2021.