Tolulope Ayileka

It’s been over fourty and half years since Nigeria hosted the second ever Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture popularly known as FESTAC 77.

As preparations for the Sapphire Jubilee of the festival kicks off, it’s no surprise that the traditional fathers of the country have also shown immense support towards this great national feat.

The Current Oba of Benin Kingdom, Oba Ewuare 11, gave his support and prayers during a courtesy visit by the festival’s familiarization team led by Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilization (CBAAC) D.G , Hon. Olubunmi Amao.

The visit was in accordance with the directives of Festac 77 and in recognition of the Nation’s traditional rulers and the important roles they play in the promotion, preservation and appraisal of Nigeria’s diverse Cultural Traditions and Heritage.

Hon Amao disclosed that due to the remarkable role the Benin Kingdom takes in the appraisal of Nigeria’s culture and traditional institution, it was necessary that she came with her team to pay homage, and also seek royal blessings as well as support success of the festival.

HRM Oba Ewuare 11 admonished them for the fervent efforts in the preservation, appraisal and showcasing of the Nation’s culture and heritage to the world.

As the event unfolded, Hon. Olubunmi Amao gave an address in regards to the activities of the CBAAC to Festac 77 and how the organization functions as the sole custodian of all the materials used during the 2nd World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture(FESTAC77) which includes artifacts, videos and all other cultural collections.

She also disclosed the reason behind the festival’s logo which is the famous ‘Queen Idia’ Bronze Mask, an important artifact that originated from the Benin Kingdom.

According to her, “it was an appreciation and recognition of the very rich cultural tradition of the Benin people that was brought to the fore.”

It was also revealed that an award will be given to honour HRM Oba Ewuare 11 as the Most Outstanding Traditional Ruler in recognition of his immense contribution to the overall propagation, preservation and promotion of African Arts and Culture in its entirety.

They formally requested the presence of the Benin Traditional Troupe as well as the Guild of Bronze casters to perform at the festival which will kick off in December.

Oba Ewuare II who was honoured by their visit, assured the D.G and her team of his utmost support for the festival and their organisation.

The monarch revealed that being a direct descendant of the great Queen Mother Idia and a former diplomat, he and his cabinet have “unreserved commitment to the preservation and promotion of the rich cultural heritage of the people of Benin, particularly the Benin language.”

He also disclosed that despite the fact that the Festival coincides with the celebration of the state’s famous Igueh Festival, he would ensure to be actively represented at the event.

Oba Ewuare II also promised to consult with his cabinet on how they can support the Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilization (CBAAC) to ensure for a successful and colourful festival.

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