The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), in collaboration with the Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilisation (CBAAC), a Parastatal in the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, has commemorated the World Day for Audio-Visual Heritage, with the theme, “Remembering FESTAC – Our Story”.

The event, which was part of activities marking the 40th Anniversary of the 2nd World Blacks and African Festival of Arts and Culture (FESTAC ’77), took place on Friday, 27th October, 2017, at the UNESCO Office, NCCE building, Plot 829 Cadastral Zone, Abuja, in line with the proclamation of UNESCO’s 21st General Conference, held on the 27th of October, 1980, which adopted the recommendation for the Safeguarding and Preservation of Moving Images, as the World Day for Audio-visual Heritage.

This proclamation, according to UNESCO, has created an avenue for people all over the world to capture moving images to record all facets of life, ranging from science, education to culture; therefore, the World Day for Audio-visual Heritage has not only provided a platform for preserving and promoting our heritage, but also for highlighting audio-visual preservations and building dialogues around it, as conserved materials, audio-visual archives form a cornerstone of the memory of the world and preserve recordings for future generations.

Lending voice to the significance of the day, Honourable Minister, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, noted that, “the preservation of our cultural heritage is the greatest legacy that we can leave for our generation yet unborn. And without our culture, we are annihilated foreigners in our mother land”.

Stating this while delivering his remark at the occasion, Lai Mohammed also said, “at this time of our national life, we cannot but preserve and promote our audio-visual heritage for posterity”, quoting Xunzi (340-245 BC) as saying: “What I hear, I forget; what I see, I remember; what I do, I understand”.

The minister opined that, when it comes to learning, the adage above makes a strong point because hearing alone is not good enough as seeing; and seeing is not as good as experience; and true learning is only evident when experience produces an action.

He therefore noted that, just as the theme and the activities proposed by organisers of the event, World Day for Audio Visual Heritage: Remembering FESTAC – Our Story, are succinct and absolutely adequate, as well as the idea of discussion and presentation of the final report on “The Archive Digitalisation Project”, a welcome development, so also is the resolve of the present administration to ensure that our heritage is preserved and promoted to serve as a benchmark for sustainable development.  

Delivering her remark, with the topic, “Discover, Remember and Share”, the Director-General of UNESCO, Ms Irina Bokova, represented by the Senior Programme Specialist for Education, UNESCO Regional Office, Abuja, Dr. Saidou Jallow, noted that, through images and sound, audio-visual heritage provides a unique insight to the past as the basis for looking to the future.

This heritage, she said, carries memories and testimonies, knowledge and ideas in ways that are vivid and moving and lays the foundation for better understanding and dialogue between and within generations, as well as between societies, which link the past to the present, adding that, the heritage we are talking about here is part of our common history and must be safeguarded and shared, as a wellspring of identity, belonging, innovation and creativity.

The UNESCO Director-General also stressed the importance of films, recorded sound materials, radio and television programmes-archives, as essential for the preservation of this heritage, because they offer us a chance to look into our history and that of others as threads in the great mosaic story of all humanity, on the basis of respect and tolerance.

However, she noted that inasmuch as the archives are important to the preservation of our heritage, there are threats to these archives which come from neglect, chemical decay and technological obsolescence, adding that this was why UNESCO was working with governments across the world to safeguard audio-visual heritage, as a source of strength for all to share, allowing men and women today and tomorrow to continue discovering, remembering and sharing the heritage that makes us who we are as a people.

She therefore stated that, the importance of the event, celebrating the 40th Anniversary of FESTAC 77, holding in Lagos, Nigeria from the 6th – 11th of November, 2017, cannot be overemphasised, as it provides a platform which underscores the need to transform and promote the FESTAC Centre into a tourist attraction, and that the significance and potential of such a feat if achieved, would create a robust creative industry in Nigeria.

The Executive Secretary of the National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Associate Professor Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma, was represented at the “World Day for Audio-Visual Heritage: Remembering FESTAC – Our Story”, by the Director, Orientation and Cultural Affairs of the Institute, Mr. Alex Omijie.

Jonathan Nicodemus

Corporate Affairs