IMG 4403The Executive Secretary, National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Dr. Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma has said if the Nzeh Mada Cultural Festival, a major festival of the Mada people of Akwanga Local Government Area of Nasarawa State, is properly packaged to national and international standards, it can project the identity of the people, foster unity amongst them and their neighbours and, above all, boost their socio-economic development.

Speaking as the Guest Lecturer at the 2015 edition of the Nzeh Mada Festival Colloquium Event, on Friday, 3rd April, 2015 at the Trish Hall, Kini Country Guest Inn, Akwanga, Nasarawa State, Ayakoroma, who is also a Visiting Associate Professor at Nasarawa State University, Keffi (NSUK), urged the Festival Management Committee (FMC) to consider the recommendations contained in his paper, titled, “Developing a Festival Brand: Towards a Blue Print for Nzeh Mada in Nasarawa State.”

In his presentation, Professor Ayakoroma maintained that while the dream of the FMC to transform the festival into a tourist attraction was laudable, it could only become a reality if the festival was repositioned and becomes a significant brand, stressing that in developing a festival brand capable of projecting the people’s identity, unity and enhancing their socio-economic development, attributes such as image-making, entertainment value, tourists attraction, job creation, unity of the people,showcasing of the peoples cultural heritage and building friendship, as well as cultivating new relationships needed to be considered.

His words: “Today, the Nzeh Mada Festival, celebrated by the Mada ethnic nationality of Nasarawa State, features cultural activities, such as dance, music, masquerade display, cooking competition, wrestling, debate, Mada heritage exhibition and even Beauty Pageant. The festival has attracted visitors from within and outside the State. Also, indigenes living outside the state come home in their large numbers to witness the ceremony and reunite with their families. Little wonder then that, at the 2014 event, the FMC disclosed its intention to transform the festival into a tourist attraction. While this dream is laudable, the fact remains that it can only become a reality if the festival is repositioned and becomes a significant brand.”

On how to develop a blueprint to ensure that Nzeh Mada remains a brand for people to programme the festival in their tourism calendar, Ayakoroma suggested that the festival protocol be formalized for people to know what it is all about; have government endorsement so that the state government can make provision for the festival in its annual budget as seed money to the festival management committee to work with; and canvassing for sponsorship from reputable organizations.

IMG 4559Continuing, the NICO Boss stressed that there was also the need to partner stakeholders in the hospitality industry; provide good road network; construct or renovate vital infrastructure; maintain a secure, peaceful and conducive environment; have trained tourist guides and provide well-designed tour vehicles; produce good content audio-visual jingles with the idea of generating interest from the people; provide reliable communications for updates on the festival and most importantly; and add new things which can turn out to be the tonic to turn the festival around.

He concluded that since Nzeh Mada is a people-oriented festival that celebrates their rich cultural heritage, it is not capital intensive as human beings were the people working which presents its potentials for stimulating the local economy.

Present at the Colloquium component of the festival was the Director-General, Centre for Black African Arts and Civilization (CBAAC), Sir Ferdinand Anikwe, who served as Chairman of occasion; Deputy Governor of Nasarawa State, His Excellency Dameshi Barau, who was represented by Hon. Nathaniel Isa; ADC Gubernatorial Candidate in Nasarawa State, Grp. Capt. Zakka Rabbo (rtd); Bureau Chief (North-East zone), Leadership Newspaper, Mr. Obed Nchaku; Nasarawa State INEC Commissioner, Dr. Jerry Santas; as well as the Festival Director, Professor Emmanuel Samu Dandaura, amongst others.

Caleb Nor

Corporate Affairs Unit

NICO, Abuja