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    Don’t stop Yoruba traditional worshipers, Soyinka writes Emir of Ilorin

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    By Professor Wole Soyinka, Nobel Laureate

    So soon after the Moslem season of spiritual purification, it is sad to see the ancient city of Ilorin, a confluence of faiths and ethnic varieties, reduced to this level of bigotry and intolerance, manifested in the role of a presiding monarch. The truncation of a people’s traditional festival is a crime against the cultural heritage of all humanity. Year after year, the Ramadan has been celebrated in this nation as an inclusive gathering of humanity, irrespective of divergences of belief. Not once, in my entire span of existence, have I encountered pronouncements by followers of any faith that the slaughtering of rams on the streets and market places is an offence to their concept of godhead. Vegetarians hold their peace. Buddhists walk a different path. Prior to Ramadan, non-Moslems routinely join in observing the preceding season of fasting as a spiritual exercise worthy of emulation.

    Perhaps this is another occasion for self-introduction. I currently teach courses in Abu Dhabi in the Emirates. That is the region of Origin, all others are mere appendages. I was there just before Christmas. I passed through again in the countdown to Ramadan. On both occasions, the streets, businesses, hotel lobbies and other public spaces were lit up with the same festive spirit. Only the symbols within the designs were different. The mood of celebration was equally pervasive and inclusive. Painfully, my mind could not help but travel back home, and some years past, recalling for instance how a procession of Corpus Christ was once attacked, some killed, by a brood of Moslem fanatics, for daring to process along the streets of that same Ilorin. Needless to say, such abominations have become routine. Community is sacrificed to bigotry.

    It may interest you to know that, in Abu Dhabi, numerous programmes are pursued, at government expense, for the evolution of a humanized community based on religious tolerance and mutual respect. By contrast here, several tiers removed from Origin, must we turn the turban of enlightenment into a crown of bigotry? And in a society whose very constitution that supposedly governs us all guarantees freedom of belief, association and movement?

    Your Royal Highness, it is conduct like this that has bred Boko Haram, ISIS, ISWAP and other religious malformations that currently plague this nation, spreading grief and outrage across a once peaceful landscape, degrading my and your existence with their virulent brand of Islam.

    It is conduct like this that has turned, before our very eyes, a once ecumenical city like Kaduna into a blood-stained mockery of cohabitation. It is conduct like this that makes it possible for a young student, Deborah, to be lynched in the very presence of armed police, on mere allegation of having belittled the image of a revered prophet. It is action of this nature, perpetrated in obscure as well as prominent outlets of the nation that turns a young generation into mindless monsters, ever ready to swarm out and kill, kill, kill. Simply kill for the thrill of it, but under presumption of religious immunity. It is conduct like this that then nerves one extremist to wake up one day in a Scandinavian country, publicly announce his intention, and proceed to make a bonfire of copies of the Qur’an. Reprisals follow, equally mindless, trapping humanity in an ever-ascending spiral of costly but gleeful violence.

    This continent has endured centuries of disdain and despoilation at the hands of alien religions – Christianity and Islam at the forefront. Both religions have been sanctimoniously deployed as justification for unspeakable atrocities, for the dehumanization of the black race. Do I need to teach you your own history, or is it that you prefer to forget? To encounter, in this century, a convert to alien spiritual dogma, appropriating the cloak of piety to impede the observation of our antecedent spirituality is not just racial treachery but an assault on civilized conduct as a universal aspiration of humanity, where every discovery, every new encounter usher in new propositions of enlightenment. Humanity builds on the past, preserving alternatives of world views, not destroying that past which, in any case, is indestructible. Your conduct is an affront to my sense of racial being, and that holds true for millions beyond these national and continental borders, stretching into the Americas and the Caribbean.

    There you will still encounter ISESE and allied spiritualities. There, ISESE still exerts its hold on the human spirit. Visit Brazil, go to Columbia, explore Cuba, and be humbled by the tenacity of this spirituality among the descendants of black humanity.

    Even the sturdiest of thrones crumble. Long after you and I are gone, generations will continue to endure the effects of present anomalies, pretensions, hypocrisies, will continue to harvest the bitter fruits of the seeds of discord being sown by their forebears. I therefore urge you to rein in those agents of division, of triumphalist intolerance, such as the Majlisu Shabab Ulamahu Society. There is a thin line between Power and Piety. Call Yeye Ajasikemi OIokun Omolara to your side, make peace with her and make restitution whichever way you can for this grievous insult to our race. We know the history of Ilorin and the trajectory of your dynasty – but these are not the issues. The issue is peaceful cohabitation, respect for other worldviews, their celebrations, their values and humanity. The issue is the acceptance of the multiple facets of human enlightenment.

    The greatest avatars that the world has known were not without human frailties, flaws, and errors of understanding. You are NOT Omniscient. And you are not Omnipotent.

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    Traditional Ruler Extols Cultural Fiesta In London

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    Traditional Ruler Extols Cultural Fiesta In London

    The Chancellor, Federal Universi­ty, Birnin Kebbi, Kebbi State and Chairman, Imo State Council of Elders, Eze Cletus Ilomuanya, has urged all sons and daughters of Igboland living abroad to remain steadfast in supporting develop­ment at home.

    He also urged them to uphold the culture of the Igbo.

    Eze Ilomuanya, who is the Obi of Obinugwu in Imo State, made the call at the 9th Igbo Festival of Arts and Culture, which was held at Enfield, London on July 14.

    The 2024 edition of the festival attracted a large number of par­ticipants and guests, among them many non-Igbo and foreigners.

    The Igbo Festival of Arts and Culture is an independent cultur­al exposition that is held in Lon­don every year.

    Eze Ilomuanya, was elated at the tireless effort which the or­ganisers of the event led by Mazi Obi Okoli, put into “Elevate Igbo culture to international promi­nence”.

    He commended the festival which he said had been “helping in no small measure” to encour­age the younger generation to em­brace the values and tradition of the Igbo.

    The traditional ruler advocated for more “unity and understand­ing among our people”, assuring the Igbo abroad that the incidents of insecurity at home, which arose not too long ago is being combated, to ensure that Igbo people abroad are not hindered from periodically bringing back their families and children, es­pecially at festive periods, in an atmosphere of peace and security.

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    Lagos woos more for tourism, culture

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    Lagos woos more for tourism, culture

    Once again, Lagos is extending its excellence in commerce to tourism and culture with a nine-day festival expected to woo thousands of locals and visitors alike to the city later in the year.

    The state, through its Ministry of Tourism Arts and Culture, is collaborating with the QDance Center to host Afropolis Lagos 2024.

    The maiden edition of the nine-day festival will take place from October 26 to November 3, 2024 at the J.K Randle Centre for Yoruba Culture and History, Onikan, and its environ.

    Speaking on the import of the festival at a recent Town Hall Meeting, Toke Benson-Awoyinka, Lagos State Commissioner for Tourism, Arts, and Culture, said that the event, which seeks to celebrate creativity and innovation, is aimed at transforming Lagos into a vibrant hub of artistic and technological excellence.

    “The essence of Afropolis lies in its ability to bring together a diverse array of creative minds. Imagine the vibrant fusion of traditional and modern expressions that will be on display, from indigenous crafts to cutting-edge digital art.

    “This melting pot of ideas and talents promises to be an unforgettable experience for both participants and attendees,” the commissioner said.

    Explaining the choice of J.K Randle Centre for Yoruba Culture and History as the venue for the festival, she highlighted the historical significance of Onikan, which has long been a cultural hub, and hosting Afropolis here would be a fitting tribute to its legacy.

    “The J.Randle Centre for Yoruba Culture and History, in particular, stands as a beacon of our rich heritage and offers the perfect backdrop for this celebration,” she said.

    The essence of Afropolis festival, according to the commissioner, lies in its ability to bring together a diverse array of creative minds.

    “Imagine the vibrant fusion of traditional and modern expressions that will be on display, from indigenous crafts to cutting-edge digital art. This melting pot of ideas and talents promises to be an unforgettable experience for both participants and attendees,” she assured.

    On his part, Qudus Onikeku, head of the QDance Center, explained that Afropolis would showcase the whole gamut of creativity as well as transform Onikan’s main street and JK Randle Road, into a lively arts and tech assemblage.

    Highlighting programmes of the nine-day event, Onikeku said Afropolis would feature among other things, pop up fashion stores, arts and craft market, live performances, street arts, street food, street vendors, music concerts, DJsets, master classes, meetings and networking.

    “The rest are talks and round tables, gaming, innovation, exhibition, children playground and urban culture display,” he said.

    According to him, Afropolis will also see a range of smaller break-outs as well as highly interactive sessions and master classes focused on topics across creative sectors.

    “It is projected that Afropolis will attract more than 1,000 creatives and exhibitors from Arica and the diaspora.

    “We also expect more than 20,000 visitors, buyers and delegates from Africa, the diaspora and the rest of the world.

    “It provides a platform for young talents to showcase their ideas, and stimulate economic growth for local vendors, artisans and global African creatives to showcase their product or services.

    “It will position Lagos as a hub for technology, creativity and innovation by leveraging the festival to showcase African advancements in art, tech, gaming, design, fashion and other creative fields,” Onikeku said.

    The nine-day festival will culminate in a curated marketplace over the weekend, where participants will showcase their local and international innovations and works.

    From a partner’s perspective, Blessing Azubike, senior programmes manager, CC Hub, one of the partners in the festival, expressed excitement being on the project, saying that her outfit is passionate about anything co-creation, which is what it is on board to do.

    “We will be serving on the technology component of the gathering,” she noted.

    Ajibade Adewale, group head, partnerships, Wema Bank, assured revellers of safety with their finances in the course of business transactions during Afropolis carnival.

    “We will ensure your transaction is taken care of digitally, we are also there to guarantee that your money is safe with CC Hub because we are partnering with them as well,” Adewale said.

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    China, Nigeria Commit to Promotion of Tourism, Cultural Exchange

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    China, Nigeria Commit to Promotion of Tourism, Cultural Exchange

    The Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Abuja has reiterated its commitment to promote tourism and cultural exchange with Nigeria within the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in order to enhance the two countries’ bilateral relations.

    The Embassy made the pledge at the weekend during a Seminar on “Promoting Culture and Tourism Exchange in BRI Cooperation”, jointly hosted by the Chinese Embassy, China Alumni Association of Nigeria and University of Abuja.

    Cultural Counselor of the Chinese Embassy, Mr. Li Xuda said that the embassy has always regarded promoting people-to-people ties between China and Nigeria highly because cultural and tourism exchange plays a special and important role in societal progress and national development.

    Li also added that the joint construction of BRI takes “Five Cooperation Priorities” as the main content: Policy Coordination, Facilities Connectivity, Unimpeded Trade, Financial Integration and People-to-People Bond.

    He said: “The people-to-people bond, one of the five cooperation priorities of the BRI, goes beyond culture and tourism exchange and seeks to build common understanding out of respect for countries and regions in its big family.

    “Both China and Nigeria are cultural giants with fabulous ancient civilization and rich tourism resources.
    “Since six years ago, China and Nigeria became close partners in jointly building BRI, which made our bilateral exchange even more in-depth and practical.

    “I firmly believe that our culture and tourism will be further promoted in the new stage of high-quality joint construction of BRI and some of our cultural gaps and exchange barriers will be bridged.”

    On his part, the Executive Secretary/CEO , National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Otunba Biodun Ajiboye, expressed gratitude to the Chinese government for their continuous support in developing Nigeria’s culture and tourism sector.

    He noted that Nigeria has a large wealth of natural and cultural attractions ranging from stunning landscapes of its national parks to the historic landmarks and vibrant cities that tell the story of the nation.

    He said: “We must therefore leverage the BRI to enhance our tourism infrastructure, promote sustainable tourism practices, and create unique cultural experiences for visitors.

    “By doing so, we can attract more tourists, generate revenue, and create jobs while preserving and celebrating our cultural heritage.

    “We will work closely with our Chinese counterparts to develop joint projects, exchange programmes and collaborative initiatives that have mutual benefits for both countries.”

    The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a global infrastructure development strategy adopted by the Chinese government in 2013 to invest in more than 150 countries and international organisations.

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