As the National Festival for Arts and Culture (NAFEST) opens in Lagos, delegates from over 29 states of the Federation presented energetic cultural performances, setting the city of Lagos agog.
The performances during the opening ceremony of the iconic festival was described by some revellers who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria in separate interviews as electrifying.
The opening ceremony was held at the Onikan Stadium in Lagos.
The theme for the festival is: “Culture and Peaceful Co-existence”.
The cultural displays projected the unique elements of dance peculiar to states like Ogun, Rivers, Imo, Nasarawa, Kano, Bayelsa, Ekiti, Benue, Abia, Kaduna, Niger, Oyo, Jigawa, Edo, Delta, Ebonyi and more.
Some of the states also displayed unique aspects of their culture in the course of the performance bringing to light their major preoccupation, arts and crafts.
Revellers were excited as colourful masqueraders also performed revealing the real and intriguing African culture.
Adebola Aladesuyi from Ekiti state said the performances were indeed an eye opener for her as she noted that different states had specific dance styles.
She said the cultural displays were entertaining and educating and urged the Federal Government to continue to uphold the festival.
Also Gambo Ibrahim from Katsina state was marvelled at the various seafoods displayed by Lagos state as he had believed that such massive sized fishes could only be found in Kebbi state.
Ibrahim said he had also learnt a lot.
For instance, he got enlightened and learnt that Lagos indigenes from Epe were predominantly fishermen and women.
“ It has been an interesting one today. I can see Rivers state dancers in their full cultural regalia which I can now differenciate from those from Edo and Delta.
“This is truly a festival capable of uniting the nation. Our diversity is indeed our strength and we must be conscious of this,” he said.
Earlier, Chief Olusegun Runsewe, Director-General, National Council for Arts and Cultural (NCAC), organisers of NAFEST, noted that if Nigeria must be great again, the nation’s culture must be continually upheld.
He said Nigeria used to be the most united nation before now, adding that the nation’s lost glory could be revived through exploration of culture.
Runsewe who made references to how Lagos state had contributed to global growth in the area of sports, tourism and entertainment, said culture was also a veritable tool to eradicating poverty in the country.
He commended Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos on his efforts at ensuring the 35th NAFEST holds in a grand style.
He described Sanwo-Olu as a man with great passion for tourism, arts and culture.
” Today, we have 29 states here in Lagos to celebrate our diversities and cultural heritage, for me, this is the best country across the globe,” he said.
Mrs Uzamat Akinbile-Yusuf, Lagos state Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, urged Nigerians to visit the state known as the City of Excellence and Acquatic Splendor.
“I want to implore everyone here present especially our contingents from other states across the country to use the opportunity of this festival to explore the abundant tourism potentials in different parts of Lagos State.
“ Here in Lagos, our nightlife activities remains top-notch, being a 21st century economy.
“ You have heard of the popular phrase “Eko for Show” which echoes creativity, pomp and pageantry peculiar to Lagosians,” she said.