The Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi, the Ojaja II, has said that celebrating Festac 77, 40 years after Nigeria hosted it, will help Nigerians to reenact their traditional values, customs and cultures.
The monarch said this while responding to questions from the management and staff of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Lagos office that paid him a courtesy call in Ile-Ife.
They were accompanied with editors and reporters from the editorial and the multi-media departments of the agency .
The oba said that Festac “77 brought love and unity to Nigeria , the host nation then, from all the 59 countries that participated in the one-month-long event.
NAN reports that the Centre for Black African Arts and Culture (CBAAC) is planning to organize events that would commemorate 40 years of Festac’77 from this April to propagate the values and originality of black culture.
It was also initiated to improve and develop the African culture and Nigeria in particular most importantly to leave a legacy that younger generations will live to remember and uphold.
Ogunwusi said that Festac ” 77 brought people of all races and nationalities to Nigeria to showcase their arts, culture and traditions, adding no festival had since surpassed it.
He said that Festac “77 projected the modernisation of cultures and also put forth the ideology of race equality between Africa and other continents of the world.
Ogunwusi said, “Festac ” 77 can rightly be seen as a demonstration and call for African unity and cultural development.
“Festac 77 at 40 is worth celebrating and it will receive my support because of the great legacies it left behind after Nigeria hosted it,’’ he said
The traditional ruler, however, urged CBAAC, the organisers of activities that would mark 40 years after FESTAC’’77 to involve traditional rulers from across the country in its planning.
CBAAC should work closely with traditional rulers because they are the custodians of the African cultures, traditions and heritages, he said.
He said that he had been reading about the coming events in the newspapers but the organizers had not reached out to him.
I think CBAAC should reach out to us traditional rulers across the country for guidance and royal blessings before, during its implementations and after the celebrations, he said.
The monarch also frowned at those saddled with the administration of cultural activities but only assign projects from the sector to those not knowledgeable.
“Traditional projects should be given to the traditionalists, and not just to any person that does not know anything about culture and tradition.
“ The traditionalists are the real custodians of our cultures and traditions. We have killed our culture by giving cultural works to non-practitioners, ” he said.
He urged Nigerians to uphold their cultures and stop the idea of borrowing western culture and civilisation.
“Nigeria has a rich cultural heritage which is wide and varied; and culture is one area where they have a lot to showcase to the rest of the world.
“Nigeria is the most populous black nation in the world with the largest concentration of blacks,’’ he said.
The monarch lauded the Yoruba race and other ethnic groups in Nigeria for upholding and sustaining their traditional values and culture as genuine Africans.
“The Yoruba are still the one upholding the culture of the black race in the world.
“ Some of the nationals of Cuba, Brazil, Caribbean Island, Trinidad and Tobago emancipated from Nigeria, from Yoruba land precisely.
“They speak and teach Yoruba language in some parts of these countries. Some of their nationals had also traced their roots to Yoruba land,” he said.
The other ethnic groups in the country are also doing well and are among the best custodians of their traditional cultures and heritages in the world.
“This is highly commendable,’’ he said.
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