The 25th Edition of the National Festival of Arts and Culture (NAFEST) 2011, with the theme, “Nigerian Traditional Music: A Vehicle for Economic Transformation and Unity,” which started on the 22nd of October, came to a close on Friday, 28th October, 2011, at the U.J. Esuene Stadium, Calabar, Cross River State.
The festival provided an avenue for youths all over the country to call on government at the three tiers – Federal, State and Local, to provide employment opportunities for the millions of unemployed youths in the country, saying this will check the security challenges facing the nation.
The call came through dance drama presentations by various state troupes, as the thematic preoccupation of most of the presentations dwelt on insecurity and the lack of peaceful co-existence among Nigerians, all stemming from youth restiveness due to idleness, occasioned by lack of employment for the teeming number of qualified but unemployed youths in the country.
The youths charged the Nigerian government to make provision for qualified youths to earn a livelihood using among others, the culture sector, which is a viable alternative to oil and gas, and that doing so will reduce the problem of unemployment and serve as a panacea to the lingering security challenges.
The resolutions of most of the dance drama presentations harped on positive engagement of the youths and the need for peaceful co-existence among the diverse ethnic nationalities in Nigeria, charging all to view our diversity from a positive angle, looking at things what unites us as a people – events like our traditional/cultural festivals, where our dances, music, arts, crafts, attires, are showcased and celebrated, instead of dwelling on our differences, or things that separate or divide us.
The presentations also called Nigerians to go back to the days when we traded in our cultural products, valued our cultural resources and lived together as a people, not minding our differences, and resolved that, until we find that cord of love that binds us, spirit, soul and body as one people, our quest to be a great nation will remain a mirage, for no nation thrives under an atmosphere of disunity, mistrust, insecurity and mindless corrupt practices without giving a thought to how our actions and or inactions are affecting fellow citizens.
The theme of Jigawa state dance drama presentation captured it all by putting it succinctly: “United we stand, divided we fall; so we need peace and unity in Nigeria.”
Meanwhile, the National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO) had its stand at the festival to display various publications, in fulfilment of its mandate of carrying out enlightenment campaigns on various facets of Nigerian culture, to effectively mobilize Nigerians towards a culture-oriented lifestyle, to help promote better understanding of various cultures, which would in turn lead to respect for the different cultural values, norms and practices to bring about a harmonious, as well as peaceful co-existence among the diverse ethnic nationalities in the country.
Books on display include, Nigeria: A Flourishing Culture Diversity; Globalization, Cultural Identity and Nigerian Youths; Cultural Diversity and National Development; Culture and Education for Peace; Multi-ethnic Nationalities of Nigeria and the Problems of Governance; Perspectives on Cultural Administration in Nigeria; A Handbook on Living Human Treasures in Nigeria; and Dress Culture and National Development, among many other books, all aimed at giving Nigerians the cultural enlightenment they need towards a peaceful co-existence in the society generally.
Jonathan N. Nicodemus