With Francis U. Odupute
Finally breaking the jinx, the Edo State Ministry of Arts, Culture and Tourism, over the last one week organized the first Edo State festival of Arts and Culture (EDOFEST) amid many financial and logistic challenges.
Addressing journalists two days ago during a press briefing called at the instance of the Edo State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the chairman and festival director, Hon. Aanena Jemitola, Edo State Commissioner for Arts, Culture and Tourism, said, “…ladies and gentlemen, today we are here for the press briefing to introduce the Edo Festival of Arts and Culture, EDOFEST2014. We’ve had a series of activities in the last week. We were equally here for the bonfire which was opened by His Excellency, the Deputy Governor, Dr. Pius Odubu. The food fare is going on mainly at night. Then the main big event, which will close the EDOFEST, will be on Friday, the 19th of December, 2014.”
The EDOFEST chairman and festival director used the opportunity to introduce the High Commissioner to the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, one of the partners of the maiden EDOFEST, explaining that “We have the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago as our partners. They will be showcasing their culture. You know they are a sister black nation and we know that if we go back to our roots a lot of them are from Nigeria. That is why we have invited them to showcase their culture. There is a lot of our culture in theirs as well and vise versa. So, we are very pleased to introduce His Excellency, the ambassador of Trinidad and Tobago to Nigeria, Mr. Nyahuma Mentuhotep Obika.”
Hon. Jemitola hinted that the Benin Traditional Council was also involved in EDOFEST, pointing out that “the Omon’Oba donated the mascot of the event. Obaghatopere. Ise!” The Commissioner said the Benin Royal Dynasty Trust, owned by the Crown prince, the Edaiken of Uselu, was also partnering the State Government on EDOFEST. She added that they would be introducing the Edaiken’s Troupe today, a 50-man strong troupe who will be performing alongside the 18 local government areas of the State. “There will be several troupes from the 18 local governments…like 20 troupes from each local government. Then we have the bands-the youth bands, 4 youth bands, including the band from Trinidad and Tobago; the youth bands also include all the contemporary bands in the State. In every youth band there is over a hundred youths showcasing what they have to offer”.
Hon. Jemitola threw an open invitation to everybody in Edo State and beyond to assemble at the Oba Ovonranmwen Square as from 9am today, “preferably in traditional attires, to join a convoy- Heritage street parade- all the way to the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium. If we start at 9am, expectedly by 12noon we should be at the Stadium for the cultural displays to showcase what they’ve got, one after the other”, the Commissioner reiterated.
Other ethnic nationalities in Nigeria will also be showcasing their culture today at the EDOFEST. Hon. Jemitola mentioned some of the other ethnic nationalities expected to include the Ijaw group, the Izon group, Akwa Ibom group, the Hausa group, the Yoruba group, the Igbo group, the Itsekiri group and many more. “It’s a celebration of not just Edo culture but other cultures as well, so like I said, 9am to 11am, we’ll parade to the stadium, from 11am – 12noon cultural displays take over; from 4pm the concert takes over. The concert, also, is for everybody, adults and youths alike. And the concert will go on until the last act stops. This is the first time EDOFEST would be happening in the State and it is hoped that everybody should be there…This is a call from the Governor of the State, who is the host and who inaugurated the committee that was put in place for this event”, she submitted.
On the question of sustainability, the Commissioner informed that EDOFEST will be an annual event from now on in Edo State and that “… it would be sustainable. As you well know, the first time that this idea was muted was in 2009. Everything this government does it tries to do it well and to make it sustainable. At that time the infrastructure was not there to be able to have this programme. Now the infrastructure is there, it certainly would be sustainable,” Hon. Jemitola assured.