Contingents from the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory have converged on Ekiti Parapo pavilion in Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State capital in different colours and cultural displays for the opening session of the 34th National Festival of Arts and Culture (NAFEST).
At the event, where representatives across the states of the federation observed a cultural parade that reflected their rich cultural heritage in colourful attires and peculiar cultural instruments witnessed the staging of a melodious drama titled “Children of the rolling hills” that was orchestrated by the Wife of Ekiti State Governor, Erelu Bisi Fayemi.
Declaring open the cultural fiesta themed: “Celebrating National Unity in Diversity”, Ekiti State Governor and Chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), Dr Kayode Fayemi, described the annual cultural celebration as a vital tool for integration, unity, economic prosperity and political stability of the country.
Governor Fayemi, maintained that the current economic and political challenges required concerted efforts and investment in arts and culture to give room for the expression of talents, promotion of unity in its diversity and harnessing human potentials for economic prosperity.
“We know and understand that culture is one of the main pillars of development, for without culture, it is certain that development would be greatly hindered. The critical state of our nation requires that efforts be intensified to revive our diverse culture and enhance the potential of our arts to ensure social and political stability, both of which hinge on the viability of the economy.
The Governor announced that his administration in Ekiti has taken arts and culture beyond mere performance to the realm of cultural re-orientation, attitudinal change, value orientation and its integration into the State’s educational curriculum to be taught at primary and post primary level.
Dr Fayemi added that the national event was in fulfilment of his administration’s efforts at exposing Ekiti to both national and international attractions to woe more stakeholders in the culture, tourism and creative world to the State.
Earlier the Director General, National Council for Arts and Culture, Otunba Segun Runwese hailed Ekiti State Government for not only demonstrating strong will in hosting this year NAFEST but for also mobilizing government apparatus to take active role in ensuring the success of the event.
He stressed that this year event would feature several competition including tales by moonlight, Drama, traditional board games, children’s drawing and painting, children’s essay writing, traditional cuisines, archery, indigenous fabric and fashion and cultural market display where winners would be given prizes and award.
Otunba Runwese added that participants would also have opportunity to visit the rich cultural tourist centres in the State like the popular Ikogosi warm spring, Arinta water fall, Fajuyi park and amusement, Ogun Onire groove and others in the course of the week- long event.
Reporting Tope/Bamidele, editing by Daniel Adejo