CBAAC Celebrates FESTAC’s 40th Anniversary

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The Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilisation (CBAAC) has announced a series of activities that will mark the 40th anniversary of the Second World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture (FESTAC) in Lagos. FESTAC has remained a landmark cultural event that has shaped the history of Arts and tourism in Nigeria. It set an unbeatable record. Thus, CBAAC was established to preserve all the materials displayed at FESTAC ’77 and to consolidate on the gains of the momentous festival.

Tagged, “FESTAC at 40”, the 40th anniversary of this classic event is set as the platform for historical and cultural renaissance reminiscent of the actual event that took place four decades ago. It is also an opportunity to intensify campaign for continued cultural exchange, understanding and unity amongst Black and African Countries and communities.

At a press briefing held at CBAAC office on Lagos Island, the Director-General, CBAAC, Dr. Ferdinand Anikwe, revealed some of the major highlights of the upcoming activities which will run from November 6 till 11. Perhaps, the most interesting is the crowning of Former Nigerian President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo as “Ruby King of FESTAC and Patron of African Culture.” This honour is in the recognition of Obasanjo’s valued contributions to the promotion and development of African culture and heritage as well as his role in the emancipation, unity and development of continental and Diaspora Africa. Named after the precious stone Ruby, the Ruby King award is a representation of an inextinguishable flame. This event will be done in collaboration with the residents of FESTAC Town, a community built essentially for the arriving participants from other countries. Dr. Anikwe said that the centre is currently training tour guides ahead of the event who will educate the visitors to Nigeria on the significance of the cultural relics and other aspects of Nigerian culture.

For him, this FESTAC at 40 week will help to build integrating culture. The lined up activities include the Unity Arts Exhibition by participating countries, individuals and organizations; traditional performances such as poetry, wrestling, cultural dance, Dance Drama, Folklore and more. There will also be an international symposium on the theme, “Black and African Arts and Culture and the 21st Century Imperatives which will be held at Golden Tulip Hotel, built for FESTAC ’77. On the second day of the event, an African food fair will be organised at Unilag Sports Complex and on 7th and 10th, at the Main Exhibition Hall, National Theatre Complex.

The ceremony will be declared open by the same person who declared open the FESTAC ’77, Dr. Ahmadu Adah Ali while the keynote address will be delivered by Professor Union Edebiri from the University of Benin. Other heroes of FESTAC ’77 are Admiral O.P. Fingesi, Alhaji Abubakar Alhaji and juju maestro, King Sunny Ade. There will be documentary film screening on FESTAC ’77 to relive the sweet memories of the rare cultural event.

While reflecting on FESTAC ’77, Dr. Anikwe acknowledged the contribution of the legendary Afrobeat musician, Fela Anikulapo Kuti to the image of Nigerian music and African heritage. He said that despite the absence of Fela from FESTAC ’77, his popular Afrikan Shrine was besieged by visitors from participating countries, making it what the music critic, Benson Idonije referred to as a “FESTAC within FESTAC”.