By Osa Amadi, Arts Editor
“Celebrating National Unity in Diversity”, the theme of the 2021 National Festival of Arts & Culture, NAFEST, is a slogan that may irritate many Nigerians at this point in time when many want to opt-out mainly due to the widespread shedding of innocent blood across the country, destruction of the economy and injustice. Preaching the sermon of Nigeria’s indivisibility, nonetheless, dominated Ekiti NAFEST 2021.
First of all, many will point to the misnomer in referring to Nigeria as a nation. And truly, Nigeria has never been a nation; it is a country of many nations forcefully welded together by the British for their selfish economic interest. Among the good things NAFEST has done, however, is the recognition of the inherent diversity in Nigeria’s forced unity and its efforts in using the diverse cultures to preach unity among the peoples that make up the entity called Nigeria, regardless of the level of acceptance.
NAFEST boosts businesses in Ekiti
The small, quiet town of Ado-Ekiti was set agog by NAFEST. Business activities suddenly skyrocketed as a result of the huge influx of visitors from other states of Nigeria. Pounded yam, the staple item in the state’s menu, sold like hotcakes. Nightlife in the state capital also came alive. Visitors could be seen gathering and drinking, both inside and outside the pavilion. Transporters, especially the commercial motorcyclists popularly called Okada, made brisk businesses, probably thanking God for bringing NAFEST to Ekiti State. All the hotels in Ado-Ekiti and environs also ran out of rooms. Visitors had to pair themselves and share rooms because the hotels had no more rooms to offer. From the look of some hotels, it was obvious that some rooms which were not in use due to lack of patronage were hurriedly fixed and offered to visitors. Although such rooms were not in the best of conditions, visitors had no choice but to make do with them in the face of the acute shortage.
The Director-General of the National Council for Arts & Culture, Otunba Segun Runsewe, said he was very excited that the people of Ekiti State have been empowered through NAFEST. “All the hotels in Ado-Ekiti are fully booked. People have had to be sharing rooms. It may interest you to know that the same thing happened in Canada – they had an event, but they didn’t have enough rooms. They had to build more hotels. So, we are now begging Ekiti people and saying to them: “Before we come back (for another NAFEST), please build more hotels.”
Insecurity: Dominate themes of drama @ 2021 NAFEST
Kidnapping, terrorism and banditry formed the dominant themes in the Drama Competition at the 2021 NAFEST. Both Delta and Lagos state staged plays whose themes centred on insecurity, mirroring the unfortunate conditions in the country. Even the Niger State troupe whose own drama didn’t necessarily dwell on insecurity as a theme, nonetheless, explored wide-ranging human misery, reflective of the prevailing conditions of life in Nigeria.
Bayelsa State explored the theme of disunity, hatred and greed for one another which are all banes of Nigeria and malaises afflicting the country.
When the Governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi, in his speech at the opening ceremony of the 2021 NAFEST, advised visitors to Ekiti State to find time to visit some amazing sites and heritage in the state, he probably did not realise the extent to which his advice was going to be heeded.
On Thursday, November 17, a busload of journalists from Lagos who were in Ekiti to cover the 2021 NAFEST, stormed two important tourism destinations in the state – The Ikogosi Warm Spring in Ikogosi Ekiti and the Arinta Waterfalls in Ipole-Iloro-Ekiti. The Ikogosi Warm Spring, according to the tour guides, is a unique site where warm and cold springs merge and both maintain their temperatures. The warm spring has temperature of about 70 degrees Celsius at the source and 37 degrees after meeting the cold spring. Ikogosi, where the warm and cold springs merge, and yet, retain their separate temperatures, is said to be the first of its kind in the world.
Ekiti emerges overall winner of NAFEST 2021
Ekiti State, host of the 2021 National Festival of Arts & Culture emerged the overall winner of NAFEST 2021. Ekiti beat Rivers, which came 2nd, to the 1st position.
Reacting to the victory, Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, said although Ekiti was declared as the overall winner, every state that participated in the festival is a winner.
Bayslsa and Benue states came 3rd, while Delta and Nasarawa came 4th. Lagos, Ogun and FCT came 5th.
Twenty-four states of the country and FCT participated in this year’s NAFEST.
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