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Nigeria’s Art, Culture on Runway

Art works on runway

October 10, (THEWILL) – The corridor of the Presidential Villa Banquet Hall was crammed with exhibitors, guests and government officials. Culture workers waited patiently until they got clearance from security operatives to enter the venue of one of the richest and diverse exhibitions of Nigerian art that was ever held in the country.

As part of the activities scheduled for the celebration of Nigeria’s 61st Independence anniversary, the National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), under the leadership of Otunba Segun Runsewe recently presented ‘Treasures Of Our Beloved Country.

Expectedly, top five government officials accompanied President Muhammadu Buhari to inspect the exhibition, which held at the Federal Capital Territory,  Abuja.

Other important personalities in attendance were Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; Secretary to the Federal Government, Boss Mustapha; Senate President, Ahmed Lawan and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, to name but a few.

A calm and peaceful atmosphere preceded the arrival of President Buhari and his entourage to the venue of the cultural exhibition organised by the NCAC and curated by its Director, Arts and Crafts, Joyce Ebirim.  But it quickly dissolved into music and dance as various cultural troupes took turns to thrill the audience to some performances.

The special exhibition featured a replica of the iconic Zuma Rock located beside the main entrance. Also various dishes from the six geopolitical zones and royal attires across ethnic groups were displayed. The occasion provided each ethnic group that was represented at the event an opportunity to shed some light on delicacies that are indigenous to Nigeria.

The exhibition reached a climax when photographs of past British colonial administrators and Nigerian leaders who ruled the country during the colonial and post-colonial eras, including Lord Frederick Lugard (1914 – 1919); Sir Hugh Charles Clifford (1919 – 1925); Sir Graeme Thompson (1925 – 1931); Sir Donald Cameron (1931 – 1935); Sir Bernard Bourdillion (1935 – 1945); Arthur Fredrick Richard and other two colonial administrators down the line, were put on display.

Also there were photographs of Nigeria’s first indigeneous Governor-General, Dr Namdi Azikiwe (1960-1960); Prime Minister, Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Belewa (1960 – 1966); First military Head of State, Major General Aguiyi Ironsi (January 26, 1966 – July 29, 1966); and General Yakubu Gowon (1966 – 1974), among others.

Meanwhile, on the left-hand side of the Banquet wall, the organisers had arranged art works, such as would be seen in a museum, bearing the names of the artists, titles, media with which the artworks were produced, sizes in horizontal and landscape form and the years of production.

Paintings by Dele Jagede, Haig David West, Solomon Wangboje, Obiora Udechukwu, Nuri Adejimi and other notable artists, were also on display.

Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, attended the event in company with his chiefs, who were dressed in traditional white Yoruba attires befitting an outing of such value.

Speaking during the exhibition, Runsewe said that the NCAC would be facilitating students’ visits to the exhibition stand to keep them abreast of the nation’s cultural endowments.

According to him, students from 12 schools within Abuja would be coming on an educational tour of the exhibition stand.

“Nigeria is uniquely endowed with a lot of tangible and intangible cultural products, which should be constantly on display for all to see.

“We have packaged this exhibition to educate our students. We will be bringing in students from 12 schools around the Federal Capital Territory here. We intend to catch them young and allow them to know more about the nation’s cultural treasures,” he said.

Among delicacies from the North on display at the exhibition were brabisco, Tuwo Dawa, kuka marghi, fura-de-nono, kunun shinkafa, massa, dan wake and kulikuli.

Others are pounded yam, acha, karkashi, beni seed soup, pito, kunu and akara, tuwo shinkafa, dried Okro, taushe, zobo, sinasir, danbu, kilishi and dakuwa.

The South-South had starch and banga soup, fisherman soup, palm wine, roasted plantain and peppered fish on display.

From the South-West came delicacies like amala and ewedu soup, gbegiri, palm wine, moimoi, akara, peppered snail and agidi were exhibited.

Also from the South-East, akpu, ofe oweri, egusi, palm wine and abacha were displayed as visitors took different meals from their choice geo-political zones.

Masqueraders like Eyo and more from different ethnic groups performed to the excitement of all present.

Speaking on the exhibition, Runsewe said, “I believe so much that the time has come to showcase ourselves to the world. This is a unique opportunity to showcase the treasures of our country. You can see that six geopolitical zones, their food, dance and music were represented. Nothing was left out. This is to show that Nigeria will be in unity and we are happy to be together.

“It is an opportunity to show there is still hope for our country and Nigeria at 61 is a journey that we will all appreciate.

“Today is a huge success, we are happy that we had Mr. President, blessing our exhibition and making exciting  comments on the outcome of the event.”

President Buhari took some time off to pose for photographs, while sitting on a traditionally caved throne in a palace-like environment.

The President nodded his head in affirmation and endorsement of the exhibition specially put together to celebrate the rich cultural history of Nigeria.

Earlier, Runsewe, who conducted the President and his team round the massive display of artistic and cultural artifacts reflective of the six geopolitical zones of the country for a great job done to showcase Nigeria, stated that the President’s visit would send positive signals to Nigerians on the need to treasure the full values of  the country’s culture and history.

“It was a tight schedule for the President who was involved in the activities of celebrating Nigeria at this auspicious period in the life of our nation, yet found time to visit, introspect and endorse the display of the rich diverse exhibition of Nigerian cultural tourism components. It is clearly an indication that the President believes and loves Nigerian culture, which we at NCAC wish to transform into a viable economy bigger than oil,” Runsewe explained.