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    Fabric of Courage: Highlighting the Role of CBAAC in Propagating, Promoting Black and African Art

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    Salon Africana, in collaboration with prominent African cultural organisations including the Centre for Black and African Art and Civilisation, CBAAC, recently hosted “The Fabric of Courage,” a groundbreaking multidisciplinary arts exhibition celebrating the historic Festival of Arts and Culture, commonly known as FESTAC ’77. Chiemelie Ezeobi writes that it brought to the fore the all important role CBAAC plays in documenting and preserving such valuable history

    The weight of the all important duty the Centre for Black and African Art and Civilisation (CBAAC) plays in preserving and promoting history and culture of Black and African Art, especially when it comes to the 1977 World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture, commonly known as FESTAC ’77, recently came to bear at “The Fabric of Courage,” a groundbreaking multidisciplinary arts exhibition by Salon Africana.

    What has CBAAC got to do with FESTAC’77? Everything! Established by Decree 69 of 1979, the centre came into existence after the hosting of the historic FESTAC ’77. As an agency, CBAAC is expectedly saddled with the statutory responsibility of promoting and propagating Black and African Art and cultural heritage in its totality.

    This is because after its establishment, its statutory responsibility was to be a storehouse of all the materials, which constitute the core collections and those artefacts and rare cultural items that were exhibited during FESTAC’77.

    The decision to handover these materials to Nigeria was to reinforce and build on the gains of the historic festival, hence the centre was established in fulfillment of Nigeria’s pledge to keep the materials in trust for the 59 black and African countries and communities that participated in the festival.

    Thus, to effectively discharge this mandate, CBAAC holds arts exhibitions, cultural festivals, performances, conferences, public lectures, workshops, youth programmes and other activities that promote Black and African Culture in its totality both locally and internationally.

    Beyond this, it also has a library, archival collections and audio/visual library, an art gallery, a studio, and a Hall of Fame with varied collections of significance to Black and African Peoples all over the world.

    The centre also engages in other activities, which project the overall image of Black and African Peoples and enable their cultures to be appreciated globally. Statutorily, the centre is charged with the responsibility of preserving, promoting and propagating Black and African Cultural Heritage in its totality.

    Through its numerous programmes, the centre has continued to contribute to the pool of universal knowledge on Black and African Peoples. The centre has a strategic mandate and plays a key role in making Nigeria the arrowhead in the preservation, promotion and propagation of African Cultural Heritage.

    The Fabric of Courage as Tribute to FESTAC’77

    Therefore for Salon Africana, it was pertinent to partner CBAAC seeing that the centre was interwoven with its quest to celebrate FESTAC’77.

    So on a certain Sunday, Salon African in partnership with prominent African cultural organisations including CBAAC,

    African Artists Foundation, Chimurenga Magazine and The Africa Centre with generous support from the Mellon Foundation, hosted “The Fabric of Courage” at the Old Printing Press on Broad Street, Lagos, Nigeria.

    In its tribute to FESTAC ’77 exhibition, the outing featured works by renowned artists such as Marilyn Nance, Tam Fiofori, Somi Kakoma and treasures from the CBAAC Archive. It was afterwards opened to the public for free viewing of the curated works.

    Esteemed guests at the event ranged from Art Aficionados, writers, Jazz lovers, Nollywood stars, documentarists, art collectors and even federal and government representatives. For CBAAC, its current Director General, Hon. Aisha Adams Augie, showed off her passion for all things FESTAC’77.

    Also present were Ayo Adeagbo, Special Assistant to the President on Arts, Culture and Creative Economy and Special Adviser for Tourism, Arts and Culture, in Lagos, Idris Aregbe.

    Curated by East African Grammy nominated vocalist, composer, and writer, Somi Kakoma, the evening kicked off with a poem by Nigeria’s Najite Dede, who read Audre Lorde’s Poetry is not a Luxury.

    Soon afterwards, Somi mounted the podium to belt out thrilling live musical performances with her international band comprising Otis Brown III, Toro Dodo, Philip Uzo and Ben Williams.

    According to the award winning vocalist, her “ongoing and deep dive into the archive of FESTAC 77 is the accidental happenstance of tracing the life and legacy of the great Miriam Makeba. I was particularly curious about why, on the long list of world-class artists and dignitaries who attended, she was often the only woman named.

    “After looking through thousands of images of named and nameless women who also participated, I discovered the true gravitas of FESTAC 77 along with the staggering archive housed in Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilisation right here in Lagos Island. No matter how much I tried, I could not look away.

    “The Fabric of Courage aims to reconstitute a small part of the fragmented but vastly local, transcontinental, and diasporic archive of FESTAC 77 while exploring the ways in which the seminal event continues to reverberate in Africa’s cultural imaginary and historic sites of cultural production.

    “I am deeply grateful to the work of featured photographers like Marilyn Nance and Tam Fiofori for maintaining and sharing their archives so that we might journey to that history more closely. This exhibition is about honouring Black cultural labor and the courage we find in the making of ourselves when we willingly choose to witness ourselves.

    “The archive of FESTAC 77- both the tangible and the ephemeral is a testament to that. It teaches us that the work is not about the ways we have forgotten it is about the ways we need to remember. it is for the past and the future. It is for the now. Let us continue to find ways to be a witness.”

    Headlining the event, renowned American FESTAC photographer, Marilyn Nance, who was on her first visit back to Nigeria since 1977, also showcased her work from the acclaimed book “Last Day in Lagos” which was edited by a Nigerian lady, Remi Onabanjo, who is the Curator of Photography at Museum of Modern Art Museum New York.

    While serving as the photographer for the US contingent of the North American delegation, Nance documented more than 1,500 images, which has become one of the most comprehensive photographic accounts of FESTAC 77.

    Also, Nigerian photographer Tam Fiofori’s imagery selections from the archives of CBAAC were also exhibited.

    To wrap up the evening, a panel discussion anchored by arts journalist Jahman Anikulapo, saw Marilyn Nance, Hon. Aisha Adams Augie; and former CBAAC DG, Prof. Duro Oni, dissecting the gains of FESTAC’77 and ways to ensure the momentum never fades.

    Afterwards in an interview with THISDAY, Special Adviser for Tourism, Arts and Culture, in Lagos, Idris Aregbe, who commended the organisers of the event, noted that we must understand our culture and tell our stories.

    Stressing that Lagos is always open to ideas and to partner with stakeholders to promote culture and tourism, he however said to carry the youths along, government and institutions must present arts and culture in an educative and entertaining format so they can compete with what they love to see either on their phones or on TV screens.

    Hon. Aisha Adamu Augie’s Dreams for CBAAC

    During the panel discussion, the DG of CBAAC engaged all with the passion of what she is set to achieve at the centre. Although she would often appreciate the staff of the centre, it was also obvious she not just had figures and facts at her fingertips, but also workable plans that would double on what has been done so far, one of which was the partnership with Salon Africana.

    In an exclusive interview afterwards with THISDAY, she said contrary to opinion that the CBAAC archives were laying fallow, a lot of researchers access it including from the international community. She however added that they are currently digitising the archives and are now at 30 per cent with plans to complete the remaining 70 per cent.

    But even with the huge task and the numerous challenges it portends, she acknowledged that this is a digital era and “the plan is to ensure that the whole of the world can have access to our archives. We are taking the thousands of tapes, over a thousand vinyl records, sound, photography, everything that came to FESTAC that was tangible, non tangible can be seen at CBAAC or at least you get the information on it and there are books and publications. We will definitely be doing more to ensure that the world has access to them”.

    On the need for collaborations as well as catching them young, she said for the latter, they are targeting the social media aspect as well as making it a not just a part of the university system, but also nursery and primary “because this history is important. The CBAAC history is not only concerned about the FESTAC story (we are talking countries like Cuba, Brazil, Trinidad, Madagascar), but you have items from every state in Nigeria in our archive.

    “These stories are so important to our history. It reminds us of who we were, where we are today and where we need to be and you can see, we are standing behind the photo of the National Theatre photo, which is even being renovated today and that aspect alone is going to increase and put value on our GDP.

    “We are looking at the Ministry of Art, Culture and Creative Economy. We are all working together as a unit. It’s not just individual digits doing their own thing. We are actually connecting with each other to see how we can strengthen each other’s mandate and also collaborate multinationals with the internationals. So we have a lot of work to do”.

    Addressing the issue of funding to power her vision for the centre, she said as a creative, they always find a way. “As you can see, we have already started partnerships and collaborations as having events like this would bring out our work to the limelight. We are also going to work with donor agency and developmental agencies and partners.

    “We have a lot in store for Nigeria. For someone who has been a part of the creative and cultural sector, I’ve always been an advocate for the creative a d cultural sector in Nigeria. I think we would try as much as possible to tap into all these networks that we have to make things easier so it’s not just limited to funding. Because you can have all the funding in the world, if you don’t have the best of ideas, nothing will happen”.

    Chiefly for the DG, beyond her initial short term dream to have FESTAC at 50, she wants a world class museum; for some of these items to be showcased in other countries, moving around and having a travelling exhibition for other people to experience; and a training centre that would support young people that would want to do a lot of research.

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    Renaming National Theatre after Soyinka a fitting recognition – NFVCB DG

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    Renaming National Theatre after Soyinka a fitting recognition – NFVCB DG

    The Director-General of the National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB), Shuaibu Hussaini, has commended President Bola Tinubu for renaming the National Arts Theatre in Lagos, after Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka.

    Hussaini, in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday, described the development as “the kind of recognition one will wish for a giant like Wole Soyinka”.

    Akonitv that the President disclosed this in a tribute personally written and signed by him on Friday in Abuja, to mark Soyinka’s 90th birthday.

    The President renamed the National Theatre as Wole Soyinka Centre for Culture and the Creative Arts.

    It read: “Professor Soyinka, the first African to win the Nobel Literature Prize in 1986, deserves all the accolades as he marks the milestone of 90 years on earth.

    “Having beaten prostate cancer, this milestone is a fitting testament to his ruggedness as a person and the significance of his work.

    “It is also fitting we celebrate this national treasure while he is still with us.

    “I am, accordingly, delighted to announce the decision of the Federal Government to rename the National Theatre in Iganmu, Surulere, as the Wole Soyinka Centre for Culture and the Creative Arts.”

    Hussaini commended the President for his interest and passion for the arts.

    “It takes somebody who is passionate to remember that this kind of man needs to be recognised with this kind of iconic structure like the National Theatre.

    “It is a welcome development. I am happy because there is nothing you want to name after Soyinka that will be enough compared to what he has done in the literary world.

    “So, this is a fantastic news and welcome development. It is also the President’s interest that made him create a separate ministry for arts, culture, and creative economy because culture has always been an appendage of the Ministry of Information.

    “For us in the arts, this is a fitting reward and recognition for the great feat that Wole Soyinka has achieved, not just for himself, but for Nigeria and Africa as a whole,” Hussaini said.

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    Ecobank’s “Adire Lagos” opens in grand style with over 100 exhibitors

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    Ecobank’s “Adire Lagos” opens in grand style with over 100 exhibitors

    The annual Ecobank “Adire Lagos” exhibition has taken off in grand style with over 100 exhibitors showcasing their wares. The 4-day fair which opened June 14 and ends 17th, is taking place at the Ecobank Pan African Centre (EPAC) in Lagos.

    Originating from Abeokuta in Southwestern Nigeria, Adire textile is an indigenous indigo-dyed cloth made by using different wax-resistant methods to create dazzling designs.

    The four-day Adire exhibition, returning for the third year in a row, is to promote culture, tourism, micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and enable them benefit from the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). Some of the international exhibitors at the fair include Adire Oodua, Tampoori, Jide Batik, Janae, Asologe and host of others.

    The fair is set to witnessing influx of topflight exhibitors, government functionaries, culture enthusiasts, social media influencers, artistes, local and foreign tourists, traditional rulers, and members of the diplomatic community. It provides an exceptional opportunity to network with entrepreneurs, shoppers, and everyone in the business of Adire.

    Speaking at the opening ceremony, the Executive Director, Commercial Banking, Ecobank Nigeria, Kola Adeleke said the exhibition is part of the efforts of the bank to support the creative industry in the country, adding that it was also to promote micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and help them benefit from the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

    According to him, “As you all know, we are part of a Pan African bank which operates in 33 countries of Africa. We always look out to support various initiatives on the continent and this adire exhibition fits into the scheme. As you can see, today, we have over 100 merchants who are being given the opportunity to showcase their adire products. This is the biggest that we’ve ever seen.

    It is an international exhibition. We want to support them all the way, train them and make them international brands with indigenous backgrounds. We want to ensure they are able to export their locally-created products across the continent. This is also one way to support the Nigerian economy.”

    Exhibitors and attendees alike were enthusiastic and full of commendation for Ecobank. Ecobank Nigeria, a key driver of tourism, culture and the creative industries in Nigeria, recently hosted the +234Art, a 10-day art fair dedicated to nurturing and uplifting the burgeoning art industry in Nigeria.

    The fair provided a platform to support emerging artists and encourage increased interest in art acquisition; the bank organised the Photography, Art, and Design Exhibition (PADE) to commemorate World Photography Day in 2022; the bank also partnered “Songs & Stories” With Cobhams Asuquo; Redbull Dance Your Style; BellaNaija Style Summit and Loosing Daylight (An exhibition of the history of Nollywood organised by Nse Ikpe-Etim)

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    Makinde Inaugurates New Olubadan Palace, Says 11 LGAs To Maintain Edifice

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    Makinde Inaugurates New Olubadan Palace, Says 11 LGAs To Maintain Edifice

    Ahead of the formal coronation of the new Olubadan of Ibadan Land on Friday, July 12, 2024, the new Olubadan Palace was on Wednesday evening commissioned in Ibadan, by the Oyo State governor, Engr. Seyi Makinde.

    Akonitv reports that the new Palace project was initiated by the immediate-past administration of late Governor Abiola Ajimobi.

    Governor Makinde, who took to his verified social media handles on Wednesday night to disclose the development, thanked the late Governor Ajimobi; a former President of the Central Council of Ibadan Indigenes (CCII), Chief O. O. Bello; Chief Bayo Oyero, and all Ibadan indigenes, who contributed to make the project a reality.

    He added that for the second phase of the palace, the State government will include renovating the Bower’s Tower in order to boost tourism in the State.

    Makinde wrote: “This evening, we commissioned the new Olubadan Palace in Ibadan. The event gave us an opportunity to acknowledge and thank everyone who made it possible including former Governor Abiola Ajimobi who started it, the former President of the Central Council of Ibadan Indigenes (CCII), Chief O. O. Bello, Chief Bayo Oyero, and all Ibadan indigenes who contributed to make the project a reality.

    “To maintain this new palace, we have established a process where all 11 local government councils in Ibadan will contribute to its upkeep on a monthly basis. For the second phase of the palace, we will also include renovating the Bower’s Tower, to boost tourism in our dear State. We are looking forward to the coronation of our Olubadan this Friday.”

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