Ogun State Using Culture to Integrate Africans 

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The African Drum Festival 2018 organised by the Ogun State Government is designed to reinvent skills in drumming as part of the African culture. Femi Ogbonnikan covers the festival and reports on the glamour and excitement of the third edition

W ith culture, tourism and art, Ogun State sets the pace, while others follow. Besides, with culture as the tool for integration in African, Ogun State blazes the trail and it also leads the trail as the tourism hub of the world.
Gamour and excitement trail the three-day African drum festival initiated by the Ogun State Government. The festival unprecedented in the annals of the black race, with the third edition of the “Ogun State African Drum Festival 2018”, with the theme: “reviving our culture in drums”, held in Abeokuta this week, opened the window of opportunities for unleashing the cultural and tourism potentials the state is endowed with.
At the opening session of the event held on Thursday, international troupes drawn from Haiti, Mexico,  Republic of Benin, Cote Do Voire, Liberia, Rwanda, South Africa, Cameroun, Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Congo Brazaville and others kicked off the event with their various drums to exhibit the rich potentials and power of the instruments.

Cultural troupes drawn from different states government such as Kwara, Katsina, Cross River and private troupes such as City of David from Bariga, Lagos and Eni-Afe Reformers Band, Abeokuta gave a taste of what they are made of with their African drums.
In his goodwill message, Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi, expressed happiness with the Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun, for coming up with the initiative which began two years ago (2016), with the theme: “Nigerian drum” of which he claimed he was part of the maiden edition.
“Thank God for giving, not Ogun State alone but all of us Amosun. He has a tall dream. I am always happy over your shining activities especially in promoting our culture.
“It was in Yorubaland that we had the advent of drums. So, let us promote the drum festival. With this African drum festival, we are holding now it is sure it would promote trade and commerce of Ogun State.
“Let us bear it in mind that our culture and tradition transcend our religion”, said Ooni.
Also, the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, commended Amosun for taking the giant stride in hosting the event.
The monarch advised whoever might become Amosun’s successor, to continue with the drum festival. “The event should not end here. God gave Governor Ibikunle Amosun wisdom and knowledge to initiate and organise this event.
Alaafin said: “If and when the governor leaves office on May 29, 2019, what becomes the fate of continuity of this drum festival? I want to appeal to whoever will take over the baton of leadership from him to continue with this lofty event. Five ways to direct a person to do something good or bad, according to political scientists and philosophers are to lead by example, inspiration, motivation, mentorship and to be a role model.

“In 1885, when the colonialists (the British, Portuguese, Germans and French) converged in Berlin and when they wanted to leave Africa and decided to annex under their territories but we Nigerians used culture to liberate ourselves because they didn’t want to give us independence but they wanted us to continue to serve them. Through culture, we can motivate inspire and mentor our people to become one.
“Ogun State as the cradle of civilization has played dominant roles in the emancipation and promotion of growth and development of this nation and also beyond the shores. The state is blessed with prominent people. The Ogun State people have been taking the lead on every spheres of life. I could remember that Iwe Irohin was established in 1865 by Rev Townsend. Also, the first African lawyer was Sapara Williams who hailed from Egbaland.
“The state is also blessed with Prince Bola Ajibola (SAN), a former President of the World Court of Justice at Hague. Likewise, you have here the literary giant, Prof Wole Soyinka. He is versed in Yoruba language and also English. So, Ogun State is richly blessed.”
The Obong of Calabar, Edidem Ekpo Oto, described Amosun as a visionary governor.
“It is a great privilege to be here today. Ogun State is like my second home. Culture is the beginning of African emancipation and it raises the awareness of the people and it will grow from strength to strength.

This year’s event is spectacular and it will go a long way. So, I will urge other states to take a cue from Ogun State and replicate such in their respective states as a way of promoting our culture”, said the Obong.
Not left out, the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Aremu Gbadebo, who is the Chairman, Ogun State Council of Traditional rulers, expressed appreciation to the initiative of Amosun and guests that were in attendance.
He reminisced on his first contact with the Alaafin when he was a young man living in the Palace of Alake of Egbaland, Abeokuta.
“At age 10, Alaafin when he was a young boy, he was staying within the Palace of the Alake of Egbaland, while I was five years old but staying opposite the Palace. That was when I first came on contact with the Alaafin”, said Alake.
Soyinka, who is the chief consultant to the Ogun State Government on the African Drum Festival 2018 promised to continue assisting the state.

Also, the Minster of Information and Culture, Lai Muhammed, commended the governor and the people of Ogun State on the drum festival: “On our own part at the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, we will support Ogun State in using our platforms to create awareness for the drum festival. We will give our support to the Ogun State government to take this festival to another level. We will also ensure that the festival is included in our national calendar that we are working on now. To me, the festival will provide jobs and boosts the economy and that is why we will continue to support Ogun State government.
On the second day, precisely on Friday, 20th April, a conference, workshop and exhibition were held at the Olumo Rock tourist complex. Prof Soyinka featured his creative task force at the conference tagged, “DRUMming for ADVANCEment”. And this further conceptualises the festival for better understanding.
The conference was conceived as a new dimension to the annual African drum festival, specifically to bring intellectual flavour to the character and content of the project. The main objective is to begin to position the drum as a tool for education, socialisation, cultural and economic advancement.
This session held in two formats: conference and workshop exhibition.
The conference was aimed at creating a platform through which the very nature and character of the drum and the vocation of drumming could be distilled in order to rediscover its potentialities as a significant instrument for advancing the cause of the society.

“Everything great begins from Ogun State…well, take Fela’s Afro-Beat. It all began right here before he disseminated it to Lagos and the rest of the world. So, I am not surprised that Ogun state has initiated this festival that calls attention to the significance of the drum in the life of humanity, and especially the African world.
“Many people do not recognise the centrality of rhythm, but rhythm is both entrancing and eloquent. It is a sophisticated possession of human beings. We all live on a world of rhythms, right from birth; it is both heartbeat and pulse. Rhythm is simply-life”, said Soyinka.
Resource persons that graced the occasion, include Dr Sylvanus Kwashie Kuwor, Mr. Laolu ‘Akins’ Akintobi, Dr. Tunde Adegbola, Dr. (Mrs) Bukola Bello Jaiyesimi, Mr. Muraina Oyelami, Dr. Jeleel Ojuade, among others.
Other programmes featured at the event were demonstrations and interventions by Dr. Olu Adewale Adeniran, Mr. Akin Adejuwon, Chief Tunde Kelani and Mr. Wanle Akinboboye.
The rapporteurs were Lillian Amah-Aluko, Dr. Tunde Awosanmi, Dr. (Mrs) Razinat Talatu Mohammed and Mr Mufu Onifade.
The workshop  was put together to impart knowledge about the various techniques of drumming, especially in the young ones, to ensure that the vocation begins to manifest its purposed education and entertainment values. Resource persons at this segment were Peter Adegboyega Badejo and Isioma Williams.
In his remarks, Ogun State Governor, Amosun, expressed appreciation to the traditional rulers and resource persons who had shared their knowledge through their talks and thus, making the festival successful.

“We have learnt a lot of things from the participants that came from different parts of the world, especially Africa.
It is good to catch our younger ones so that our culture does not fade away. We will continue to promote our culture.
In the subsequent edition of the festival, we will look into language barrier because I can see that we have our brothers and sisters from both Anglophone and Francophone countries that do not understand each other.  Also, in our next festival, we will no longer use our traditional place, June 12 Cultural Centre, Kuto but another location which will be completed by December this year.
“I am looking at the economic aspect, which is my stuff. We are going to see how it is possible to extend the festival beyond the three days, to like a week, in order to boost our trade and commerce during the period.