Reviving African Culture with Drum Festival: The Ogun State Example  


The coming 2018 edition of Ogun State’s African Drum Festival, the third in its series, will feature over 20 states, 14 foreign countries and 70 private troupes participating. It is designed to bring together black people from all over the world. Femi Ogbonnikan attended the world press conference held on Tuesday, April 10, 2018, to herald the expected bigger and better event. It will be coordinated by Nobel Prize Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, the chief consultant to the Ogun State Government on the festival 

R evival of popular awareness and patronage of the profound place and power of the African drum is the resilient evolution and captivating nuances of the Africa. Through the ages and challenges, a drum has been a loyal symbol and companion and enthusiasm of the black man. The drum celebrates wealth and mobilizes patriots to war. Thus, the drum is an integral part of the African evolution. It has a past. It commands conscious presence in the drifting present. It is vital to the birth of the Africa’s sound future. We must tell its story, praise its strength, protect and promote its legacies.
The drum is unique to Yorubas of the Nigeria’s southwest, and this powerful instrument defines the artistic presence and premium in Nigeria’s rich cultural potentials. In appreciation of this importance, Ogun State Government, one of the Yoruba – speaking states in the South-west of Nigeria, two years ago, mooted the idea of celebrating the African drums as a very unique way of bringing the black people all over the world together.

Speaking at the “African Drum Festival 2018 world press conference with the theme: “Reviving our culture in drums”, Governor Ibikunle Amosun, underscored the importance of drums in the African traditional settings.
The governor said the annual African drum festival had been structured in such a way that it takes place in the third Thursday, Friday and Saturday of the third week in April, that even the event has been etched in the official calendar programmes of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture and it is taking place in Abeokuta, Ogun State’s capital.
Amosun said: “Africans have rich culture. We have drums that predate African civilizations and this is what makes Africans to be great. The drum is very important beyond entertainment. Indeed, I want to relate it to, or may be, situate it with what the social media is as important to us as with what drums did then. In the days of our forebears, it was the drums they used to disseminate information to talk about one another; that they used during wars; even to say something that was about to happen. They have social drums.

“Even our traditionalists, the masquerades, they have different drums because the way they will drum it will be different from others. We can use drums for so many things. These days, different kinds of drums are used for different reasons. In Ogun State, we have chosen drums to showcase our richness when we started expanding them beyond the shores of Nigeria a year ago.
“It was a small seed that we planted has blossomed internationally. The festival is a way of bringing our black people together. We are happy it is happening here in Ogun State, the cradle of civilization. We are using the usefulness of drums to tell the whole world their importance. We will continue to do this event annually. This is a unique platform for all Africans, may be, because we are blacks. And we have been doing great things to drive home our rich culture and tradition. Intellectuals, cultural enthusiasts and everybody will be coming to grace the occasion.

“We use drums for so many occasions. There are some drums that it is only once that they beat them, especially coronation drums. So, we are using drums for so many things. They are creative a lot. And that is why we believe as a state, to just bring everybody here in our own little ways as an avenue to arouse or awake the consciousness of our people, that as African, as a whole. When we started in 2016 with Nigerian drums, it was so hugely successful. We now sat down and asked ourselves, why should we limit it alone to Nigeria because we are Africans? And the next edition, we called it African drum festival.
“When began, you wouldn’t believe it; our richness as African was displayed and advertised. In this year’s edition, well over 20 states in the federation, 70 private troupes and 14 foreign countries, including Haiti, Cuba, Trinidad and Tobago, Republic of Benin, Senegal, Togo and others are expected to partake in this event.

“Clearly, we are going to use drums for what they are. It is not just what you see it for being used for entertainment alone. It is going to be an international event that is beyond the continent of Africa, that people all over the world will come and participate because this is very unique way of bringing our people together. I assure that this festival will attract cultural enthusiasts. We have those giants from Ogun State and I can begin to mention their names. Is it Hubert Ogunde of this world of blessed memory and Ayinla Omowura of blessed memory? and of course the great Fela himself. You should know one thing about Fela Anikulapo Kuti, there was no instrument he could not play. It was not something that he would stay on a particular instrument but he would run there and played it himself.
“Also, look at Jimi Solanke, look at Baba Haruna Ishola. Ebenezer Obey. And I am happy that this time around, we will call those that have taken the usefulness of drums beyond the African continent. I think when Bob Marley was alive, he did his bit. From Cameroun to Senegal, and we will see what we can do to attract people to come and showcase to us what drums can do. So, I am happy that this is happening. Just like I said, Ogun State is a cradle of civilization.

“I and the committee members of the African drum festival have put all necessary arrangements, all necessary logistics in place, you know, Ogun State is warm, serene, to make it a huge success.”
Amosun passionately commended the efforts of Prof Soyinka, an illustrious son of Ogun state, who is a consultant in this 2018 African drum festival and was ably represented by Mr. Jahman Oladejo Anikulapo. The chairman of the 2018 African drum festival, Mrs Yetunde Onanuga, who is also the Ogun State Deputy Governor, reminisced on the advent of the annual event which began in 2016. According to her, “this journey started two years ago. This is the third edition and the theme is ‘African drums festival 2018.’ This year’s edition will be bigger and better and it has assumed international dimension.
“On Friday, 20th April, we will be having a conference/workshop and an exhibition which will be convened by Prof Soyinka at the Olumo Rock tourist complex. Prof Soyinka will be featuring his creative task force at the conference tagged, “DRUMming for ADVANCEment”. And this would further conceptualise the festival for better understanding. While Saturday, 21st April, will be the grand finale and the closing ceremony. All troupes will feature and also traditional rulers will be in attendance as well as other important dignitaries are being expected.

“Other attractions for the festival will be an endurance trek which will come up on the 17th of April with the theme: ‘Walking for drum’. The road will be made known to all. The festival promises to be the best ever that has ever happened in the whole of Africa and beyond. I urge you all to be part of the festival. Let the drums roll.”
The conference at Olumo Rock is conceived as a new dimension to the annual African drum festival, said Jahman Anikulapo.

“The conference is to create a platform through which the very nature and character of drum and the vocation of drumming can be distilled in order to rediscover its potentialities as a significant instrument for advancing the cause of the society,” he added.