Sunday, February 9, 2014

Centenary bouquet for Nigeria On January 1, 1914, the Northern and Southern Protectorates were amalgamated, giving birth to modern Nigeria. January 1, this year, marked 100 years of that union. On Monday, Femi Coker, an artist,presented the nation with a unique gift as his contribution towards the centenary anniversary, Assistant Editor (Arts) OZOLUA UHAKHEME reports. Kemi Coker Creative Director, Femi Art Ware House , is a “weird” artist. His paintings and sculptures are often out of the box. Between 2011 and last month, he produced three firsts in the creative industry: largest African textile collage measuring 40ft by 25ft in 20011, world tallest drum (renaissance drum) measuring 11ft by 6ft unveiled during the Black History Month in February last year and world largest straw mat measuring 45ft by 30ft unveiled at the third Badagry International Art Fair in December. Last Monday, he made another history with the unveiling of his newest artwork, world’s ‘largest’ textile map, measuring 35ft by 32ft in the form of Nigerian map. It was held in partnership with De Roots Renaissance at the Badagry Heritage Museum, Badagry, Lagos State. The textile collage, which took him five months to produce, is made from textile materials used mainly by 50 ethnic groups across the country. It is a commemorative piece for Nigeria’s centenary anniversary. The project is his contribution to the 20-month long celebration that has featured special carnivals, art expos, literary festivals, launch of theme song and beauty pageant. Last December, in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, 23-year-old Queen Ubah (Imo State) emerged Nigeria’s Centenary queen. Ubah with her dazzling beauty, poise, gait and excellent display of brilliance and knowledge of Nigeria beat others from the 35 states and the Diaspora to wear the coveted crown. She was crowned as the winner and queen that will reign for the next 100 years by a former beauty queen and Creative Director, AOE Events, Chief Adenike Oshinowo. Thematically, Coker’s collage shows that Nigeria is a beautiful mosaic with a national identity defined by its history and culture. In line with the centenary celebration, it draws out the nation’s soul for the world to see and creates a new understanding of history, strengthened by its art, culture and shared history. According to Coker, the historical evolution of many communities is woven in the fabric of its existence. He said through textiles, history is documented, hope is expressed, encouragements are given, sympathy is shown, faith is shared, courage and heroism are patterned. “In their motifs, memories of the past are detailed and expectations of the future are projected. The pains, joy, challenges, encounters, frustrations, grief and fellowship of the members of the community are worn on their clothes as artistic expression of their mood and experiences,” he noted. All the fabrics used, which include tie and die, lace, aso oke, ankra among others capture the patterns, motifs and colours unique to the different ethnic groups. He creates harmony and peace out of the competing colours, which depict unity and integration of the different ethnic groups. Coker said he restricted himself to 50 ethnic groups in the country because the popular fabrics used by these groups influence what others use. “Among the Yoruba in Southwest, there are proverbs and idioms expressed to drive home the importance and relevance of the place of textile in African culture. Such proverbs include Emi omo ti iya fi oja aran pon, Kiji pa ki n se a wo, Aso lo n bo asiri ara, Aso nla ko ni eniyan nla. Eniyan La so mi (people are the fabric or garment we wear) that is, no man is an island as we all need people around us. In Yoruba society, the colours of the fabrics are very symbolic in expressing goodwill and affection during ceremony or passing a message. “For instance, purple is a very significant colour as it represents royalty. It is also the custodian of African history and heritage. While white is universally acclaimed to symbolise peace and worship, indigo is about love and affection. Amongst the adherents or worshippers of Sango, the deified god of thunder in Yoruba cosmogony, red is the colour of worship, because it is believed to be a very potent colour,” Coker said. He identified three forms of textile among the Yoruba, adding that wine colour, hand-woven textile is the ultimate of all. They include Alaari (wine colour) hand-woven textile, Sanyan (cream colour) hand-woven textile and Ettu (indigo blue) hand-spun. These textiles he said, are choices of many during ceremonies such as child birth, wedding, burial rite, marriages chieftaincy title and coronation, which evolved into Aso-ebi among the Yoruba. He observed that today, Aso-Ebi is a strong show of affection and solidarity for the celebrants. Coker finds this trend as promotional for the textile industry. But, he feels there is need to properly document and preserve the nation’s textile heritage. “In my quest to promote Nigeria’s rich textile heritage, I initiated the world’s ‘largest’ textile map, measuring 35ft by 32 ft. It is in the form of the Nigerian map. The textiles used for the map were sourced from many of the ethnic groups. It is certainly the single most important tribute to Nigerian textile, which also symbolises the beauty in the diversity of the peoples of Nigeria,” he said. On the relevance of the anniversary to Badagry, he said: “The celebration of the anniversary of the amalgamation of the Southern and Northern protectorates will be incomplete without mentioning of where the British Flag (Union Jack) was first hoisted in Nigeria. In 1843, the British flag was hoisted on Nigerian soil at the Ahovikoh Quarter in Badagry, (the spot is still there). “It was the same year that the seat of British cannon was donated to King Wawu of Badagry for the abolition of slave trade in 1843 (the cannons are still there). On March 18, 1852, Her Majesty the Queen of England, signed a treaty for the abolition of slave trade in Badagry, through James Newburgh Strange Esquire, Commander of Her Majesty’s ship Archer with Badagry chiefs.” Badagry given its rich historical antecedent and the role it was constrained to play in the period of the trans-Atlantic shipment of Africans to Europe and the Americas, continues to be a dragnet to the Diaspora, tracing their roots back to her. Recall that it accounted for three out of 10 slaves taken from West Africa. ‘Art is a wonderful profession’ Posted by: OZOLUA UHAKHEME in Life (Midweek Magazine) 10 days ago At 71, Mr Ayoola Akinribola, an Italy-trained retired art teacher is unpretentious about his love for the arts. He still exhibits great hunger for drawing and painting for his local collectors in Ondo town, even at the expense of any money spinning ventures. Akinribola, who also trained at the then Nigerian College of Arts and Science, Zaria (now Ahmadu Bello University) between 1968 and 1973, lives and talks art. Assistant Editor (Arts) OZOLUA UHAKHEME, who was at his old art studio in Ondo, reports. From a distance, nothing tells a visitor to the one-room studio what goes on there. No sign-post or banner on the busy Enuowa Street, Ondo that indicates the nature of products or services offered. But, a peep into the medium-size room reveals a busy art studio filled with different works of art and materials all competing for attention and space. Welcome to the 32-year-old studio of Septuagenarian artist, Mr. Ayoola Akinribola. Yet, his name is a household one in Ondo town. His name may not ring a bell in art exhibition circuits in Lagos, it is synonymous with fine art in Ondo State. A newly designed banner announcing the name of the Association of Fine Artists hangs on the studio wall contrasting the age of many paintings in the studio. It welcomes every guest to the studio that houses very old landscape and realism paintings. Despite space constraints, every item, be it a work bench, stool, brush, knife, oil cans or tubes, canvas, board and easel is in its right place. As the president of Association of Fine Artists in Ondo town, his studio is the meeting point for the artists. He disclosed that he volunteered to lead the assocaition out of leadership crisis. It is facing at the moment. He literarily produces art and crafts for most people in Ondo town ranging from sign writing to banner production, portraitures and outdoor sculptures. His clienteles were built over decades which dated back to his Ondo High School years as art teacher and as coordinator of the creative arts aspect of the Better Life for Rural Women programme initiated by the late Marian Babangida in the 90s. He was commissioned to handle some public works while coordinating the artistic aspects of the programme in the old Ondo State, which comprisedthe present Ekiti State. The former art teacher at Ondo High School, Ondo lives art to the fullest not minding the relative returns his patrons pay for his services. To him, his joy is fullest when within the art environment, which he said, cannot be quantified. “Apart from a few times when I had to do other businesses, there is nothing fulfilling as being an artist and in the business of art. Art is a wonderful profession. That is why whenever I am with an artist or group of artists, I am always happy,” he said. Akinribola, who got scholarship to study art at the Academia Belle Arti Milano, Italia wanted to study art at the University of California. “I had the intention of returning to Italy, but I was involved in a lot of activities that kept me back. I was given some commission works by Bode George’s administration in Ondo State. I also handled signboards, banners, sculptures and other related jobs. I did the Unknown Soldier near the palace. I was very comfortable then because my hands were full. There has never been a time in my life that I have not being maintaining a studio. Even when I was a teacher, I had my studio. I will be 72 years on October 30 this year. I have been maintaining my studio elsewhere in the town but I have spent about 32 years at this studio,” he recalled. On his experiences with student artists on industrial training at his studio, he said: “What I observed from students on industrial attachments from Adeyemi College of Education, Ondo is that the level of their thinking is very low. When Tola Wewe and others were there as teachers, they were able to change the atmosphere of art. But today, it appears the art teachers are mainly concerned with teaching the theory of art leaving the practical side of it. However, there are some exceptional students among them.” Akinribola sees his art education at the Academy in Milan as the greatest asset of his life as an artist. “I left for Italy because that has been my ambition. The training I had in Milan affected me positively. It was so much! Even going from one art gallery to the other enriched my knowledge of fine art. Every street in Milan is proud of many art galleries where they exhibit art works ranging from sculptures to carvings, paintings of realism, abstract and pointillism. I learnt from them a lot. And my apartment was very close to my school which, is one of the oldest art schools in the world. When I was at the Academy, the president of London Institute of Fine Art, visited to our school,” he said. He recalled that he took special interest in fine art from his primary school days. According to him, when one Mr. Akinkanju left All Saint Primary School Ondo as art teacher, he later became the art teacher in that school. “My friends and classmates knew that I will end up as an artist in future. They weren’t surprised when they started seeing me producing some art works. I was able to encourage some people too to go into art. “When I was teaching at Ondo High School, I was able to encourage students to study art. It was like magic to many people then whenever they saw the children working on some paintings or drawings.. Akinribola though seems to master most media but his favourite is oil painting with special interest in landscape and illustration. To him, art is a fulfilling profession ‘because I prayed for it when I was trying to improve myself by taking examinations, going to school and practicing as an artist. At that time I was young and I knew I have not attained the height I wanted. But today, I think I have to thank God that I have attained what I wanted and my children are looking after me. If the history of Ondo town is written today, I will not be left out of it.’ Notwithstanding his passion and love for art in Ondo, he warned that any artist that is too ambitious cannot survive in Ondo. Reason: Such ambition will die immediately. Time for Nigeria’s Harmattan in London Nigeria’s centenary celebration kicks off next month. But, inadequate cash may hinder the showcasing of hundreds of modern Nigerian art in an exhibition organised by the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London at Brunei Gallery in London in April, reports Assistant Editor (Arts) OZOLUA UHAKHEME. After 16 years of consistent art experimentation, the annual Harmattan workshop initiated by master artist and print maker Prof Bruce Onobrakpeya is the toast of global art market operators. Till date, the Harmattan workshop like Mbari Mbayo art workshop, which started in Osogbo, the Osun State capital, in the 1960s, has been of benefit to students, single mothers, teenagers, school dropouts, among others. Artworks by hundreds of participants are being packaged for the international art exhibition in London. But, the huge cost of freighting and insuring the works of art may hinder the success of the London show. Bruce Onobrakpeya Foundation (BOF), organisers of the workshop, described lack of funds as a major challenge threatening the international exhibition. Apart from teaching skills and exposure to relevant artistic issues through lectures, the workshop, helps develop the artistic personalities of the participants through art shows, exhibitions and biennale. Speaking at an interactive session with the art writers in Lagos at the weekend, Prof. Onobrakpeya said the foundation is very happy for the invitation to London, adding that the exhibition is one of the ways to add strength and meaning to the Harmattan workshop. He stressed that it is also a veritable platform to grow the Nigerian art and artists. “We started very small. But today, we are expanding in size and concept. In a particular year, we sent artists to Dakar biennale to experience what goes on at such forum. This literarily became a testing ground for our Brunei show. “We must develop the art because it replenishes itself unlike other sectors that will vanish over time. However, we need fund to carry out this project, especially shipment and insurance of the artworks from Lagos to London,” he noted. On the journey so far and the positive impact the workshop has had on the people, he said: “My two brothers who never attended art school have become master stone carvers. In the first Harmattan workshop, we admitted a talented participant who has been a dropout from the Ibru College, Agbarha-Otor. Seeing him interacting with artists in drawing and painting classes, his status in the society later changed, not only did he get a wife to marry, he got commissions to decorate buildings. Also, a large number of the women and girls who work in the jewelry and craft sections take their babies along with them to the workshop. The Harmattan workshop is not only gender sensitive but also has a baby friendly environment,” Prof. Onobrakpeya said. According to one of the exhibition jurors, Prof John Agberia, no fewer than 240 artworks, which range from paintings to sculptures, pottery/ceramics, stone carvings, printmaking, beadworks, photography and leather works, among other media, are being juried for the international art exhibition titled: Dream, Fantasy and Reality: Agbarha-Otor Workshop 1998-2014. The exhibition, which will hold at Brunei Gallery, London between April 10 and June 21, is being organised by BOF in collaboration with the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. The famous SOAS listed Harmattan workshop as its second major international art exhibition for this year at the Brunei Gallery in Central London. The exhibition will hold after Recalling the future: post revolutionary Iranian art. Prof. Agberia said the exhibition would feature only quality art works that truly represent Harmattan workshop, adding that issue of gender came up at the close of the three-stage screening, which became a factor for consideration. He said the exhibition is supported by the Prince Yemisi Shyllon Professorial Chair in Fine Art and Design, University of Port Harcourt adding that its brochure will include statements, critical essays, and papers from Brunei Gallery Manager, Chairman BOF and other scholars on the curatorial responses on the exhibition title. According to Prof Onobrakpeya, this year’s workshop is designed to complement the centenary anniversary of Nigeria which will witness different art and culture presentations across the country. He noted that the workshop, which will feature 15 departments in two sessions, will focus on examining the use of art materials in different media. The 16th Hartmattan workshop will run from February 16 to 28, and March 2 to 14, at the Niger Delta Cultural Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State. Some of the facilitators include Nike Okundaye, Tola Wewe, Alex Nwokolo, Abraham Uyovbisere, Edosa Oguigo, Peju Alatise, Ademola Williams, Bunmi Afolayan, Ato Arinze, Philip Nzekwe and Victoria Udondian. Others are Olusegun Adejumo, Obiora Anidi, Fidelis Odogwu, Raquib Bashorun, James Iroha, Nse Abasi Inyang, Peju Layiwola, Olu Amoda, Deola Balogun, Kunle Adeyemi and Nelson Edewor. The screening jurists are Prof. John Agberia, Uwa Usen, Mike Omoighe, and Sam Ovraiti. Onobrakpeya however lamented paucity of funds to execute the workshop, which he said, has been a fresh window of opportunities for trained and non-trained artists in the West Africa sub-region. He stressed that the first and greatest challenge facing the workshop is funding though it receives financial help from some individuals, and corporate bodies. “The Harmattan workshop is classified as charity under which the parent body Bruce Onobrakpeya Foundation, was registered. The workshop does not enjoy the status of formal education set ups and so it has no support from the government which also has not ratified the cultural policy that could provide subventions to enable such entities function properly,” he said. ‘Art is dear to my heart’ The Director-General, Nigerian Tourism Development Corportation (NTDC), Mrs Sally Mbanefo, is a lawyer, banker and self-taught artist. She speaks on her passion for art and why she will retire to art in this interview with Assistant Editor (Arts) OZOLUA UHAKHEME A large-sized photograph of the Virgin Mary with other Roman Catholic insignia stands at the door post. The collections reveal only a part of the host, a devout Roman Catholic. But, her other parts, unknown to many, are tucked behind her door. As the door opens, the guest is faced with the big picture: collection of colourful paintings hanging on the walls of the living room and study/studio, thus creating a picturesque many guests can’t ignore. Apart from paintings and drawings, some reference books on art grace her shelves. They include the biographies of Michelangelo, Klimt (Life and Work), Fabian Perez, Jack Vettriano, Frederick Hart, Rene Magritte, Auguste Rodin (Master Sculptor), The Work, The Man, The Big Picture-paintings in Paris, and four of her father’s (Chief Raph Uwechue) publications: Africa’s Who Is Who, Africa Today, Makers of Modern Africa, and Reflections on the Nigerian Civil War (Facing the future). All these books are inspirational to her. Welcome to the Ikoyi, Lagos residence of the Director-General of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation, Mrs Sally Mbanefo. It is like a mini art gallery of sorts. Confronted with such collections, not many guests will walk into the flat untouched by the themes of the paintings and drawings adorning the walls. In fact, the paintings are arranged in series and sections. From realism to abstract, surreal, portraiture and expressionism they offer a rich bouquet of expressions that dwells on nature, mask, nudity and horses among others. In one of the paintings on nudity, she explained that nudity reflects the true state of man, while mask tell of man’s pretence and deceit. Mrs Mbanefo, a former banker and top staffer of Lafarge Cement Wapco Nigeria Plc, is a lawyer, but with a passion for art. Despite studying Law, she never allowed her talent in art to suffer. At an early age, she discovered her talent in art and followed it up but she did not attend any art school to learn the basics of painting and drawing. The self-taught artist said she studied Law not because she was not interested in Fine Art but because that (Law) was her choice. Her first painting on environment was done 31 years ago. “Art comes to me naturally because I always love to be alone, and that allows me to focus on art. In fact, I prefer to detach myself when I am annoyed as it helps me to express myself. My first painting was done in 1982 and I had my first group exhibition during a talent hunt competition organised by IMB Plc in 1990. Interestingly, I won the most talented staff from the competition,” she recalled. She noted that if she had not studied Law, Fine Art would have been the next option, saying she would still go to art school to study sculpture, especially raisonne. Her preferred choice medium is acrylic as against the popular oil. “These days, I am very busy so acrylic will meet my desire in terms of time. Sometime, I am so desperate to paint but time constraint will not permit me. Since I got the new job at NTDC, I have not painted. So, acrylic is ideal as it dries faster than oil,” she said noting that it also allows her to manipulate figures and forms easily. Interestingly, she is at her best while on sick bed. Apart from nature and environment, one common trace in her paintings is the presentation of human anatomy. “I love human body, form and outlines. And I have produced hundreds of paintings all in my private collections except those I gave out as gifts. I don’t paint for commercial interest. Art is my soul and my heart,” she added. When asked of her favourite Nigerian master artist, she named the founder of Niger Delta Cultural Centre, Agbarha-Otor and initiator of Harmattan Workshop, Prof. Bruce Onobrakpeya, saying his works and techniques are very intense. “He tells story of our past in his works as he makes the viewers to think deep. Other artists I cherish their works are Tola Wewe, Joe Musa and Rom Isichie,” she added. On tourism promotion in line with her three-fold strategic imperative for moving the sector forward, she identified the Osun, Ekiti and Ondo tourism corridors as her top priority states in the Southwest. She said that following the authentication of sites across some states in the past six months, the Southwest has a wide range of sites that would interest tourists. These, she said, included medical tourism in Ondo State’s Mother and Child Hospital, Ekiti State’s rolling hills, Ikogosi warm spring and waterfalls, and Osun State’s Osun Osogbo Festival among others. She said that next year, NTDC would play a prominent role in the Osun Osogbo Festival, especially on how best to repackage the festival and give it international exposure. “Tourism is beyond festivals and carnivals as the core thing is how to make the sites appealing and attractive to both domestic tourists and foreigners. And the posturing and packaging must be done excellently. There are thousands of strategies, what differentiate each one is the culture of implementation: sharing common goal or vision”. Deputy governor praises NTDC chief BY OZOLUA UHAKHEME Deputy Governor of Ondo State, Alhaji Ali Olanusi, has described the Director-General (DG) Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), Mrs. Sally Mbanefo as a light in the dark corridors of the nation’s tourism sector. The deputy governor spoke in Akure when the DG was guest of the state at the last Mare Festival in Idanre. He stated that considering the three-pronged strategic imperatives embarked upon by the corporation in the last six months; the DG has commenced the transformation of the sector in earnest. “You are a light planted by the President Dr Goodluck Jonathan to light up the dark corridor of the tourism sector and you have commenced this vision in earnest. Your coming to Ondo state at this point in time is a sign of good things to come to the tourism sector in the state and in Nigeria. We welcome you with all our hearts and we assure you of a splendid time with us,” he said. Mrs. Mbanefo toured some tourism sites, such as the Medical Tourism Village in Laje, Ondo (that houses the Trauma Centre), the Gani Fawehinmi Diagnostic Centre and the Mother and Child Hospital to authenticate the state of tourism sites in the state. Impressed by what she saw of the sites, she pledged to support and facilitate cultural festivals and programmes organised by Ondo State that emphasise unity, stability and peaceful co–existence of Nigerians to grow domestic tourism. She said such partnership is part of her initiatives at rebuilding and growing the nation’s tourism value chain, especially domestic tourism. The NTDC boss described Idanre Hill as a uniquely blessed city of rocks, saying: “When I went to Abeokuta, I thought it was the best of a city on a hill until I entered Idanre. This is the real city, which should be called Abeokuta.” She also toured the Dome Village, which is the biggest Conference Tourism Event Centre in Nigeria being built by the Ondo state government. She commended Governor Segun Mimiko for ‘preparing Ondo state as a preferred tourism city in Nigeria.’ She also commended the late Deji Falae for his efforts at promoting tourism and culture in the state, and identified Mare Festival as one of the vibrant pillars of domestic tourism. Her commitment and dedication to grow the tourism sector was further reaffirmed by one of the guest speakers at the opening ceremony of Mare Festival when she described her as ‘an extremely beautiful and intelligent lady who has a firm grip and understanding of the tourist industry. We are happy you are here and you dancing with the local and proving to all that you are a real African woman, willing and serving the nation with all your breath and beauty.’ Mrs Mbanefo, who was thrilled by the cultural wealth in Ondo State as demonstrated by the exciting cultural performances of the state troupe could not hold back her feelings as she joined the group in dancing. She described Idanre Hill as an exciting arrangement of rocks, which dwarf those in Switzerland. Ondo State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Kayode Akinmade led the state delegation that included Ondo State Commissioner for Housing Dr. A Omoloja and Permanent Secretary in Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Mrs. Akinroye Modupe to receive Mrs. Mbanefo. Akinmade commended Mrs. Mbanefo for honouring the state’s invitation to be special guest at the Mare Festival hosted in the honour of the former Ondo State Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, the late Deji Falae. “The government and the people of Ondo State are happy to welcome you to the state where the sun shines for all. We are grateful for honouring our invitation to Mare Festival. We are also happy because you are the first director-general of NTDC not only to visit the state but deemed it fit to honour our invitation to Mare. We assure you of an evergreen memory of your visit to Ondo State,” he said. NTDC boss has since assumption of office over six months ago, commenced the phased overhauling of the tourism sector with a three-pronged strategy that includes rebuilding the NTDC, growing the tourism value chain and re-inventing Nigeria’s tourism industry. ‘Religion must not drive culture aground’ The Second Ekiti State Festival of Culture and Arts Expo tagged Arts, Culture and Tourism: Tools for social transformation held last week was more than a celebration of culture. Jimoh Aliu’s Imole De, a drama performance says it all, reports Assistant Editor (Arts) OZOLUA UHAKHEME. After a brief scintillating drama sketch by the visiting Oyo State Cultural Troupe on the open lawn of Ikogosi Warm Spring and Resort, it was time for an evening of poetry performances and reading. Venue was the Conference Hall of the resort. US-based Nigerian scholar and poet Prof Niyi Osundare and Erelu Olufunke Fayemi were guest readers at this year’s Ekiti State Festival of Culture and Arts Expo. Akeem Lasisi of Punch Newspaper presented special poems for the evening last Thursday. Dressed in a white top on a black pair of trousers, Prof Osundare, who kicked off the evening walked up to the podium, holding a bottle of water on one hand and copies of his books on the other. He was full of smiles. His mission was to share his literary experiences with his kinsmen for the second time in his state. He returned to the country a day earlier for the festival. “This is Ikogosi water,” he said in a low tone after a sip from the bottle of Gossy water packaged from Ikogosi warm spring. In a homage to the state, he said the rocky landscape of Ekiti is well-endowed and has produced the mindscape from which emerged lots of brilliant and successful Nigerians. “There is no miracle in Ekiti, it is forthrightness and hard work. These are the memories that made me strong and which I want to share with you this night,” he said amid performances. He read and performed some of his poems ,such as Invocation of the word, The rocks rose to meet me, Ewi Adamo, A song for Olosunta and Tender Moment, a parting love song he rendered both in English and Yoruba language. His love for nature and his rocky hometown of Ikere-Ekiti was overwhelmingly demonstrated in his presentations. He recalled with nostalgic feelings how he grew up in the conundrum of myths, tales and fables about the Olosunta rock in Ikerre. Little wander he dedicated A song for Olosunta to the historic rock. Also, he did not deny the audience his mother’s favourite song, Aremo So Loye, which he rendered effortlessly in Ekiti dialect. However, he lamented the continued decline in the tempo and size of the Olosunta Festival, saying, Olosunta crowd would continue to fade out like every other thing. “Unfortunately, we don’t appreciate our heritage. Christianity and Islam should not drive culture aground. Our culture is very important. There is so much culture and wisdom in Olosunta Festival.” Osundare, who was attending a cultural event for the first time in Ekiti State, stressed that science does not stand in the way of culture and vice versa. According to him, Ifa has given mankind everything including physics, biology and medicine. “Unfortunately, for a long time, we have been looking into the sky for what is in our pockets,” he said, noting that poems can be written in Ekiti dialect. Beyond his performances and readings, Osundare commented on the on-going transformation programmes of Governor Kayode Fayemi in Ekiti State, the need to promote Yoruba culture, especially the Olosunta Festival among others. He said a lot is happening in Ekiti State, and that is how change begins. He said he sees promise, which must be held with both hands for growth in the state. “Allowing the women not to rot away in men’s kitchens and parlours is another way of empowering the women folks,” he noted. Wife of Governor Fayemi who did three brief readings from her book, Speaking for myself and speaking above a whisper recalled those political periods after the re-run gubernatorial elections in Ekiti State. She read, particularly, from the chapter that dwells on the many experiences and encounters she had with political opponents, the police, INEC officials and thugs. In fact, her readings were like replays of episodes from a political drama. Her parting poem, The day the devil came to drink water, was the high point of the reading as the audience went wild in laughter after she translated the meaning of the poem in Yoruba to mean Ojo buruku esu gbo mimu. According to her, the title of the poem was derived from response from a witness at the election tribunal sitting on the election case at Ilorin. The festival, which ran from December 9 to 13 also featured arts expo, colloquim, women extravaganza, film show, traditional cuisine, traditional games, story telling and command performance of Jimoh Aliu’s Imole De. The drama featured artistes such as Peter Fatimilola, Folasade Aliu, and Toyin Olanrewaju. The colloquim lead paper titled: Public/private parternship as a viable option for the promotion and branding of festivals and heritage sites in Ekiti, was presented by the Director-Genmeral of Centre for Black Arts and African Civilisation (CBAAC), Prof. Tunde Babwale at the Fountain Hotel,Ado Ekiti. At Mare, Falae lives on It was meant to be a low key festival in honour of the late Deji Falae. But, with a keenly contested mountain climbing competition and musical performances, this year’s Mare Festival reaffirms its prime place in the tourism calendar of the state last weekend, reports Assistant Editor (Arts) OZOLUA UHAKHEME Despite the scorching sun, thousands of people, especially children and women, stood for hours to witness the opening ceremony of this year’s MARE Festival in Idanre, Ondo State. Every available space in between the rocks that litter the premises of Methodist School, Idanre, venue of the opening ceremony was occupied by the people. From the football field to the school fence and top of the rocks served as sitting platforms for the teeming crowd to catch a glimpse of the ceremony. Present at the opening ceremony were the Deputy Governor Alhaji Ali Olanusi, Director-General of Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) Mrs Sally Mbanefo, Ondo State Commissioner for Information, Mr Kayode Akinmade, Permanent Secretary in the Culture Ministry, Mrs Modupe Akenroye and other government functionaries. If Friday’s turnout of people at the opening is an indication that the festival is truly people-centred, the attendance at Saturday night musical concert at Olofin Grammar School, Idanre is an affirmation that the festival is not only close to the people’s heart, but it is their festival. It took the constant appeal from Information Commissioner, Kayode Akinmade, his team and the security officials to restrain the crowd from overrunning the fenced section of the field where Governor Mimiko, his wife and other special guests were seated. The all night musical show featured special performances by some Nollywood stars such as Bimbo Oshin, Ronke Ojo (Oshodi Oke), Funso Adeolu, Toyosi Adekola, (aka Omo Alagbo) and Jibola Dabo. The group, which rendered a special dirge for the late Deji Falae dedicated the awards they got from Lagos state to Governor Olusegun Mimiko in appreciation of his contributions to culture and tourism. The main acts at the concert were the fuji maestro, Abass Obesere and 9Nice who thrilled the crowd to exciting musical performances. Other musicians who performed include Danny Young, Lord Ajasa, Christ Ambassadors and Taye Turaya. Governor Olusegun Mimiko said this year’s Mare Festival would be at a very modest level as it is dedicated to honour the immediate past Commissioner of Culture and Tourism, the late Deji Falae, who has worked assiduously and contributed to record huge success in previous editions. He noted that the state’s prayer is that the late Falae’s efforts would not be in vain and that the tempo he left behind would be sustained and ultimately surpassed. According to the governor, this year’s edition is unique in the sense that for the first time in the history of the festival, community participation to the fullest is encouraged. The various quarters within Idanre community would showcase their rich cultural heritage. Theme of this year’s festival is Endless possibilities, which was chosen to expose the people of Idanre and its environs and by extension, the entire citizens of Ondo State to the fact that tourism has occupied a very large scale in the world economy. Mimiko said tourism is now a veritable sector that may boost the internally generated revenue of governments and strengthen the per capital income of individual players in the sector. He added that it can also project the friendly and hospitable culture of the people. While reiterating his administration’s commitment to development of culture and tourism in the state, he challenged the teeming unemployed youths to explore the various job opportunities that abound in the culture and tourism industry to the fullest. Mimiko recalled that the state has re-engineered the culture and tourism sector by the re-invigoration of the state Cultural Troupe through the recruitment of 42 fire-brand artistes, participation in international cultural troupe competition, upgrading and promotion of notable traditional festivals to carnival status, establishment of a cultural village to expose youths to acquire skills in film making, arts among others. He stressed that the state is also ensuring a robust and fruitful collaboration with Federal culture and tourism parastatals which ahs culminated in the on-going processing of the Oke Idanre enlistment in the World Heritage List of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), among others. The festival featured marathon, race, mountain climbing, raffle draw and a musical night with performances from reputable cultural ambassadors and other musical stars. Director-General of Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation Mrs. Sally Mbanefo who describd the death of Deji Falae as a huge loss to the state and the family, eulogised the former commissioner for his commitment towards the development of culture and tourism in Ondo State. Mbanefo said she is in Mare Festival to honour the late Deji Falae and the people of Ondo State. She urged Nigerians to value what they have as cultural heritage before sharing them with the outside world, adding that after the dancing and singing at the festival, the corporation would discuss how it can collaborate with other relevant agencies in promoting tourism in Ondo state. Commissioner for Information, Mr. Kayode Akinmade said that the celebration of Mare festival has redefined the hills of Idanre, which no longer define the unique geography of Idanre people alone. “With the celebration of Mare, we now have a constellation and unification of cultures that make us the proud people of Ondo State. For five years running now, Mare festival has drawn international attention and acclamation. International climbers have thronged Ondo State in search of these wonder hills of Idanre which are compared to none around the world. No surprise then that the tourist potential of Nigeria has received tremendous boost via Mare festival,” he added. Reflecting on the contributions of the late Deji Falae, Akinmade recalled that for two robust years the former Commissioner of Culture and Tourism immersed himself in the Mare project, drove it with all his will and wits and endeared it to the hearts of lovers of tourism. “The vision he held, the passion he shared, and the energy he exerted would be the driving force for the Culture and Tourism industry in Ondo State. For as long as MARE endures, so will the ever sweet memories of Deji Falae linger in the hearts of Ondo people and the annals of tourism and culture in Ondo State in particular and Nigeria at large,” Akinmade said. Michael Clement won the first position in the mountain climbers’ competition, followed by Akinfolure Ayodele and Vincent Nnamdi who came second and third position respectively. Winners of the raffle draw went home with gifts, such as refrigerator and motor cycle, among others. ‘We know the value of what we lost’ BY OZOLUA UHAKHEME The Director-General of Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation, Mrs Sally Mbanefo has said the good works of the former Ondo State Commissioner of Culture and Tourism, the late Deji Falae would remain indelible in the sand of time. She therefore urged the parents of the late lawyer to take solace in the joy that their son’s name would never be forgotten by Nigerians, especially the people of Ondo State. She said though his death is a huge loss to the state and the family, but that God who creates also takes. She spoke on Saturday in Oba-Ile, Akure residence of the Falaes while paying condolence visit to the family for their son, Mr. Deji Falae who died in a plane conveying the remains of former Ondo State governor, Dr. Segun Agagu to Akure for burial. Wife of Chief Olu Falae, Racheal Olatubosun, who spoke on behalf of the family, said that their hope is now his children who would console them in future. She stated that the late Deji represented the values they cherished and that they are proud of him. She added that only the family knows the value of what they lost and that for the wife, it is a painful one. “Deji was somebody we were building hope on before he left us. As Christians, we will take it be it good or bad. What gladdens our heart is that he is appreciated as demonstrated during his funeral. We feel that if the world can appreciate him so much, then God will do better. We urge his friends to continue to pray for his nuclear family because we want his children to console us in the future,” she said. ‘We can create a university that is self-sufficient’ The growth of Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti founded four years ago, has been described as a ‘miracle plus magic’. Its founder and legal icon, Aare Afe Babalola, spoke on what encouraged him to establish the university. OZOLUA UHAKHEME and KUNLE AKINRINADE report. For about an hour, the Board of Trustees’ (BOT), meeting of the Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti was ‘disrupted’ last Saturday. The meeting that was chaired by the legal icon and founder of the university, Aare Afe Babalola was put on hold to receive 26 journalists led by Prof Raph Akinfeleye (chairman, Panel of Assessors) who were on tour of the university as part of events leading to this year’s grand presentation ceremony of Nigeria Media Merit Award (NMMA) held at Ado-Ekiti. Despite the interruption, Aare Babalola, who described the media as his friend, shared his views on how a university can be run without undue dependence on government grants. He said his experiences at the University of Lagos as pro-chancellor encouraged him a great deal to establish his university that would change the world at Ado Ekiti. He said that as pro-chancellor of UNILAG, he encouraged participatory leadership that is also by example, adding that he donated his allowances to the university while he was there. He noted that today, the University of Lagos is better off in terms of revenue generation unlike other universities. “My experiences as pro-chancellor of the University of Lagos are what encouraged me to establish the Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti (ABUAD) that would change the world. In fact, from my experiences at UNILAG, we can create a university that is self-sufficient. And that is what I have done here at ABUAD. I brought a lot of my clients to help in the development of UNILAG infrastructure and it helped in boosting the internally generated revenue of the varsity with, which the school was able to pay salaries without waiting for government grants,” he said. He said one of such strategies he adopted at ABUAD was the establishment of the university farm to serve as regular source of food for the students. “In the case of ABUAD, the school farm alone boasts of 85 fish ponds with about 5000 fishes each while my personal farm, which I have since donated to the university, has about 500 fish ponds with 5000 fishes each. We have bakery, we grow and process moringa olifera, a herbal drug, we grow pawpaw, mango, among other crops,” he said. He disclosed that ABUAD, which is designed as a world-changing university, is being acknowledged by world agencies such as United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) as one of the prestigious private universities in Africa capable of providing a solid contribution to educational growth. UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General in Abuja, Lalla Aicha Ben Barka in a letter dated November 14, 2013 urged ABUAD to explore collaboration with UNESCO on issues related to education, particularly on flagship programme 2 on Strengthening education systems for sustainable development in Africa: improving equity, quality and relevance. Barka described ABUAD as one of the prestigious private universities in Arica that would provide a solid contribution to education, on these issues in collaboration with UNESCO. “We would also explore the possibility to publicise UNESCO-ABUAD initiatives on our website, portraying the university as one of the shining beacons of excellence in its endeavour to be one of the best universities in Africa and the world,” he said. Aare Babalola however urged media practitioners to give prominence to people who have contributed immensely to humanity and do away with giving prominence to stories about the activities of violent groups. Continuing, he said: “Although, the notice of your visit was rather short, but the media is my friend. There is a story of a British parliamentarian that insulted everyone, including the Queen of England. When he was asked who he feared most, he said the media because published messages travel far beyond where you can get to”. Marathon: Eyeing a world record Marathon, a giant painting measuring 2.4m x120m on canvas (mixed media of oil, acrylic, glue and sand dust) spreads across the length of the main studio. Former Ondo State Commisssioner for Culture and Tourism Chief Tola Wewe is at the verge of creating a world record. He has painted over 100 metres of the 120 metres canvas earmarked for the project. He spoke with Assistant Editor (Arts) OZOLUA UHAKHEME. Last month, a controversial Indian American painter, Mr. Gurmej Singh in Kalamazoo, Michigan, US set a Guinness World Record for creating The Transcendental, the “world’s longest painting by an individual,” an entry that coincidentally-was disqualified from a local art competition. The painting measured 11,302 ft. 2.11 in. (3,445 metres) and took Singh 38 days to create.” Former Ondo State Commissioner for Culture and Tourism Chief Tola Wewe is close to creating a new world record in creating one of the longest paintings. By last week, he had completed over 100 metres of his 120 metres Marathon he dedicated to humanity. At his Ondo residence, Wewe has deconstructed a section of his home to facilitate his work on the Marathon. In the last two years, work on Marathon has been consistent and progressive. But, don’t count the number of tubes, cans and brushes that have been consumed to do this artwork. Also, forget about the monetary implication of executing the painting project. In the beginning “Ten years ago, I was at Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital for a group art exhibition organised by the Total Petroleum. Prof. EL Anatsui was one of the exhibiting artists. He called me and said I was capable of doing a giant painting on canvas. Since then, I have been thinking about the project. But, five years ago, when I was appointed Ondo State Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, I decided to start it. Also, at that time, I had little time for serious painting of individual works. I therefore ordered for a canvas measuring 120m and I have been working on it at will. I never shared the though with most of my artist friends because I never wanted to be distracted or discouraged. Also, I did not discuss it with the press until now. After hitting the 100metres mark After hitting 100meters mark, which is a world record on its own, I decided to expose it to some of my friends. I wanted to do it for humanity and for art lovers. I am happy doing it. The idea was to present my experiences, a kind of visual diary, talking about corruption, kidnapping, celebration etc in Nigeria. Again, the themes are not planned for, and the section I am working on now is about the celebration of my mother’s return from kidnappers. Cost of the project I have not bothered myself about the cost of producing the painting. I don’t want to cost how many tubes or cans of oil I have used because the result is my utmost interest. The effort is worth it because I have to give account of my existence. All that is there are messages I must deliver to the art world. I do wake up by 1am or 2am to paint and later crashed on my bed. Each time I am done with a section, I carry out the measurement. I have not opened the entire canvas at full length, but I measure each section after completion. I can’t place a value on it now. The collectors will do that when I am ready to sell it. The painting is my life and my footprint, which is a testimonial for my existence. I keep having an inner push gearing me up to continue the work. Duration of the painting Actively, it took me six years. I have been consistent in the last 2 years when I was done with the government. The painting of Marathon forced me to create an extension in my house to allow for more space and concentration. The work is mainly for humanity, no sponsors for its production but might consider that when I am going to exhibit it. Apart from Mrs Nike Okundaye and Prof. Moyo Okedeji I have not told any of my artist friends, I did not want anybody to discourage me. As at today I have done over 100 metre long marathon I don’t know if I am going to stop at 120m. I may go further if I am instructed by my superior forces. If I die after this work, I am fulfilled. My works are in most of the world’s galleries but I needed to do something that has not been done. I will publish a book on the art work and Prof. Okedeji is handling that aspect. Showcasing Marathon for art lovers The artwork must be viewed by the public. I intend displaying it in my farm in Ondo town, before I will show it around the world. But, I must show it here in Nigeria before taking it outside. I will do a print of sections of the painting for the majority to collect. In fact each of the work will be in form of installation. I have been selling my paintings to buy materials to do this work. I survive and live well on arts. I am also a farmer, I breed dogs, have over 20 fish ponds. When I am bored, I go to farm. Leaving Lagos for Ondo I left Lagos because I can’t get the same concentration and space I have here in Ondo town. My friends will distract my creative flow. This environment is good for me. I love to be with nature and the local people. I visit and attend cultural events at real shrines and I experienced the real culture. I am more at home with traditional people. It will interest you that I have two chieftaincy titles: I am the Obagbemigun of Ido-Ani and the Bobagunwa of Odo-Owo. If I reincarnate, I will always want to be an artist. Dark moment The kidnap of my aged mother is the only dark moment in my life. It was a nightmare. I did not sleep for 100 days. I was smoking and drinking gin (Ogogoro). I had nasty experience from the security officials because they keep promising. In fact, my appointment as a commissioner in Ondo State exposed me to kidnappers who were demanding 150 million ransoms. In one of the telephone calls, they asked me if I claimed I don’t have money, how I got my jeep. I then told them to take my jeep and free my mother. Creative industry and the economy The most thriving sector of the nation’s economy is the creative industry, especially visual arts. Nigeria should invest in its areas of strength, which are arts and sports. Unfortunately, Nigeria keeps investing in wrong areas like sciences.” A buja carnival: Setting tone for centenary anniversary Nigeria will mark the 100th anniversary of the Northern and Southern protectorates in January 2014. Last Saturday, the ninth edition of the Abuja International Carnival kicked off at the Eagle Square, setting the tone for the centenary celebrations.Assistant Editor (Arts) OZOLUA UHAKHEME reports. If the number of participants is a determinant of its success, this year’s Abuja International Carnival may not have achieved much. But, if content and theme are what matter, then the festival is it. Of the 15 countries that indicated interest in the carnival, only five showed up. Also, 17 of the 36 states of the federation including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) were at the opening, thus hitting an all-time lowest turnout since 2005 when the carnival made its debut. The theme of this year’s carnival was A people for a century, a people forever, and it was aimed at creating a platform for the commemoration of Nigeria’s 100 years of existence as a nation. The First Lady, Dame Patience Goodluck, who was to declare the carnival open, and Bayelsa and Benue state governors’ wife who were expected at the event did not show up. Unlike in the past, this year’s Abuja carnival did not evoke fears in many residents and visitors to the FCT. All major roads and streets from Garki Area One to Eagle Square, a major venue of the carnival, were all manned by armed security officials supported by men of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corp (NSCDC) who controlled human and vehicular traffic. For once in a long time during a national celebration, tourists walked into the square unperturbed by any fear of Boko Haram bombing. Some vehicles drove close to the square to either drop contingents or their costumes for easy reach. The 18-kilometre street carnival that kicked off from Area One at 10 am was not just a long procession of colourful motorised floats and dancers. It was a total celebration of culture on wheels propelled by contemporary music and dance steps. Each contingent was backed by a motorised float and a mobile music box spinning vibes during the trek. The contingents, consisting mainly of youths with lots of energy to trek the long distance while having fun, were a spectacle to behold. The long trek that lasted over six hours terminated at the Eagle Square where guests were thrilled to another round of exciting celebration of the nation’s diverse cultural heritage. In fact, the atmosphere was convivial for the celebration that recorded not too impressive turn-out of both participants and viewers. There was little or no apprehension about seeming threat from the notorious Boko Haram sect that has killed thousands of Nigerians in the northern part of the country. No doubt, this year’s outing is an improvement of last year in the area of costumes design, float concept and content. In totality, the Abuja International Carnival has been able to shed off its traditional elements for contemporary infusions to reflect modern carnival. Minister for Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, Chief Edem Duke said national unity and cohesion are winners at the carnival, adding that culture has in the country’s 100 years continued to grow from strength to strength. He identified culture as one of the enduring elements of nation-building and national cohesion, which ‘continue to strengthen intra and inter-communal relations, help to build bridges, forge sustainable partnerships and provide the foundation for our distinct identity as a people with a proud heritage and a future that is laden with hope and confidence.’ He said that the carnival provides a platform for the projection of Nigeria’s rich cultural heritage. “It is always a delight to see our people from various States of the federation resplendent in their carnival costumes display Nigeria’s diverse cultural forms in a kaleidoscope of colours. The beauty of these cultural forms is firmly rooted in their diversity which has been the source of our strength as a nation in the past 100 years,” he added. The minister stressed that beyond the celebrations and display of cultural forms, carnivals have become mega businesses around the world describing it as the catalyst and backbone of a multifaceted economy. And in order to grow the carnival, he said that federal government is building partnerships with countries where carnivals have truly become a big enterprise. “The Federal Ministry of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation remains committed to the development of the creative sector. We are paying particular attention to this area as we believe that it has a great role to play in the organisation of carnivals and other cultural events. To this end, the new Cultural Policy of Nigeria has designated carnivals as an important cultural and economic activity and has made adequate provision for its enhancement. The Federal Government also partners with States where Carnivals are gaining grounds as an important cultural and economic activity. This is with a view to developing carnivals across the country and turn them into unique brands and enterprise,” he said. His Trinidad and Tobago counterpart, Dr. Lincoln Douglas, whose country is one of the five foreign countries that participated in the carnival disclosed that his country has granted 10 scholarship awards to qualified Nigerians wishing to study carnival art, management of festival, and other related areas at two of Trinidad and Tobago’s universities. Dr. Douglas who said details of the scholarship would be worked out soon added that the University of Trinidad and Tobago and University of West Indies would be the two universities where the scholarship would be offered. He said his country has resolved to offer scholarship in the area of capacity building as ‘our contribution to the commitment of the President of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan who has also visited Trinidad and Tobago and shown tremendous interest and support. The visiting minister said there has been an increasing interest in the carnival in Nigeria, which he said, has great opportunity too. “Both countries – Nigeria and Trinidad and Tobago share the same economy culture, we are oil producing countries, oil and natural gas, petro-chemicals. And we understand that those are finite resources. But our peoples, and the way of life as well as our culture are the infinite resources. As long as our peoples are here, we have something that we can leverage upon. I am excited with what I have seen this evening. And with continued support and participation, the carnival will grow.” Continuing, he said: “In Trinidad and Tobago, we have been doing the carnival for the last 70 years or so, and we have developed an art form, an industry, and science of music, band, theatre, mask … everything working together to create wealth for our people. It has become a big industry providing employment for young people as they get involved in something that is meaningful and valuable. “Through the carnival, we have succeeded in taking our youths off the streets or getting involved in negative things. Abuja Carnival portends great opportunities for Nigeria and we have resolved to offer scholarship in the area of capacity building as our contribution to the commitment of the President of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan who has also visited Trinidad and Tobago and shown tremendous interest and support. So, we are reciprocating that level of collaboration and participation.” He said he feels more at home in Nigeria than US where he spent over 15 years. Despite the low turnout, some of the participating states had good presentations during the street carnival session and the carnival floats/performances at the opening ceremony. For instance, apart from featuring about the largest contingents at the carnival, Niger State and Akwa-Ibom State were creative in the presentation and interpretation of the festival’s theme. Akwa-Ibom State presentation at the ceremony was a total story of the Nigeria nation reflecting in visual every major political stage the country went through from pre-independence through military era till date. It also showcased the diverse culture of Nigeria as demonstrated by some members of the state’s contingents who wore different traditional dresses known to some ethnic groups in the country. In fact, there was a deliberate effort to send strong messages of peace, cohesion and love for one another by every state contingent at the carnival. Also, the bigger picture of centenary celebration was never lost as Bayelsa State reminded all with an inscription on its float, saying: It’s our centenary, roll out the drums. Other special contingents included representatives of Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, Eagles Nest (Naija Cultural Heritage Reality Show), United Foods, makers of Indomie, Maltina Airtel among others. The carnival which ended yesterday featured performances by school children within the FCT, durbar, cultural night/traditional cuisine and bush bar/traditional hairdo, masquerades performance, boat regatta, command performance and musical fiesta. The mobile traders and food vendors that brought items to the Eagle Square for sale were alleged to pay about five thousand naira for the space occupied. The allocation of open space and collection of the levies created some drama outside the main square shortly before the kick-off of the opening ceremony. The Abuja carnival was initiated by the Olusegun Obasanjo administration in 2005 as an annual event to hold during the harmattan season in Nigeria. It is to create a platform to present and preserve the rich intangible cultural heritage of Nigeria. Last year, some innovations were introduced into the carnival with the involvement of women and youth organisations, school children, non-governmental organisations, military/para-military and culture/tourism groups. The states that were absent at the opening include Bauchi, Nasarawa, Edo, Imo, Abia, Delta, Enugu, Gombe, Ogun, Zamfara, Lagos, Osun, Borno, Cross River, Kwara, Jigawa, Sokoto and Kebbi

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