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    Igogo festival to attract 500,000 tourists to Ondo – Monarch

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    The Olowo of Owo, Oba Ajibade Ogunoye, on Thursday, said the annual traditional festival of the town known as Igogo Festival would attract no less than 500,000 foreign and local tourists to Ondo State every year.

    The first-class monarch noted that 500,000 tourists coming down to witness the annual festival would be of immense economic benefits to the ancient city and the state in general.

    Oba Ogunoye stated this during a press conference on the 2023 Igogo Festival at his palace in Owo, Owo Local Government Area of the state.

    The monarch, who mentioned that his reign had introduced some innovative measures to the annual Igogo Festival to attract tourists, expressed optimism that the festival would open wealth creation avenues, upscale the small-scale businesses of cloth weaving and artistries and promote general uplift of the socio-economic development of Owo.

    He said, “As you are aware, Igogo Festival is the most celebrated in Owo Kingdom. Annually, its celebration comes with pumps and pageantry. Through the festival, we want to see this ancient town transformed into a hive of colourful activities that will attract tourists and bring economic fortunes to our domain.

    “Our goal is to galvanise the festival to produce an economic impact of one billion dollars yearly. We are very serious about its effect and target. Talks are on with our diaspora sons and daughters to explore the low-hanging commercial fruit and advantages which the festival portends for the economic boom of our people.

    “Under my watch, the Igogo Festival is to witness a rebirth in content and package to attract over 500,000 people yearly at its peak.

    “It is my desire to give the Igogo Festival a 21st-century outlook by making its processes and activities richer. To this end, some complimentary events will be added to the 2024 Igogo Festival celebrations as they will be unveiled today.”

    The Olowo explained that the Igogo Featival would from 2024 be embellished with Oroshen Beauty Pageant Competition where a queen would emerge and be given a handsome prize after a parade of beauties showcasing Owo food, clothes, hairdo and dancing steps.

    According to him, the Igogo Festival Market had been added to the festival in the form of a trade fair. He explained that the market would afford individuals to exhibit assorted goods and services of the ancient town.

    Oba Ogunoye also hinted that he had introduced Owaloko into the annual festival whereby the Olowo would be seated in his full royalty and splendour to relate with his subjects, visitors, tourists and well-wishers in an open place and the occasion would afford the monarch the opportunity to bless the people of Owo and thank all for participating in the festival.

    He enjoined tourists from all over the world to feel free and enjoy the hospitality of the Owo people during the 17-day festival, which he described as the largest and oldest cultural festival in the history of Sub-Sahara Africa.

    Festivals

    Carnival Calabar partners Yanga Lotto, ASSITEJ for improved entertainment

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    The Carnival Calabar Commission on Monday announced its partnership with Yanga Lotto and ASSITEJ Nigeria to improve on entertainment and educating activities for children.

    Dr Gabe Onah, Chairman of the Commission made this known during a media briefing in Lagos.

    Onah said the partnership was a deliberate move to take the Carnival back to the private sector to guarantee its sustainability.

    Akonitv reports that Yanga Lotto is a digital gaming platform .

    Also, ASSITEJ is an international body dedicated to the artistic, cultural, and educational rights of children and young people across the globe.

    Onah noted that Gov. Bassey Otu of Cross River desired to explore the 2024 edition of the carnival to improve creativity in children and ensure that citizens were enriched through the power of creativity, culture and tourism.

    He said that the partnership with ASSITEJ Nigeria and Yanga Lotto necessitated those ideals.

    “We are happy that we are taking Carnival Calabar back to the private sector and that is the way to encourage sustainability.

    “The theme for the year’s carnival was unveiled on March 24 as ‘Our Shared Prosperity’,” he said.

    Also speaking, Mr Derrick Kentebbe, Executive Chairman, Yanga Lotto expressed readiness to ensure that the gaming platform generated huge fund for the carnival through lottery and more.

    Kentebbe said the the platform would engage the Genz in the course of the carnival.

    “I can see the passion of the Carnival Calabar team here and I am sure the 2024 edition of the carnival will be the most successful ever. Expect a lot from Yanga games this year,” he said.

    Dr Pamela Udoka, President of ASSITEJ Nigeria, noted that Nigerian culture and arts had been focused more on adults while the younger ones lose touch with African values.

    Udoka said ASSITEJ Nigeria would be engaging the children and the young adults in conferences, workshops, theatre productions, panel discussions in the course of the carnival.

    According to her, this was to spur children’s creativity, enlighten them on embracing culture and encourage talent discovery.

    “We are trying to use Carnival Calabar to drive participation for children and young adults.

    “So we will be hosting ASSITEJ Nigeria Theatre Festival, exclusively for the young ones,” she said.

    Unveiling the programme for the carnival, Mr Effiong Ekpenyong, Special Adviser, Events Management, Governor’s Office and Tourism Development, said the carnival would begin with lighting of Christmas trees in the Canaan City.

    He said the carnival will start on Dec. 1 with HIV AIDs walk day to the festival village and the official opening of the carnival.

    “Each day of the carnival will be an experience, we will feature comedy night, reggae night, boat regatta at the Marina Resort waterfront, barbecue night and more.

    “We will feature a mega concert where A list Nigerian artistes will perform for free and we have a mini theme known as ‘Sweetness Continues’,” he said.

    Mr Austine Cobham, Executive Secretary, Carnival Commission, said the carnival would be a 32-day event.

    Cobham said ahead of the 32-day carnival, the first Dry Run heralding the carnival would hold Oct. 20, the second dry run would be on Nov. 2 while the third and final dry run would hold Dec. 8.

    “The cultural carnival would hold on Dec 26, as well as the Kings and Queens performance; the children carnival, now called the junior carnival will take place on Dec. 27.

    “The Carnival Calabar, known as Africa’s biggest street party, will be on Dec. 28, Bikers Parade will hold Dec 29 while the Street party will be on Dec. 30,” he said.

    Mrs Mary Ephraim-Egbas, Managing Director of OKHMA Global, official marketing company for the carnival said, “We are proud to be associated with Carnival Calabar, we appreciate the sponsors.

    “This year, we are looking at taking the relationship further, we seek infrastructure partnership to be able to create cabins for the carnival.

    “We also want partners in the area of drinks, we usually have attendance of over two million people, we stream the carnival in over 42 countries, it is a viable platform for sponsors to come on board,” she said.

    Ikechi Uko, the Carnival Calabar Consultant commended the commission for standing tall for 20 years, making the carnival to run smoothly and welcoming innovations.

    Uko described the carnival as the biggest tourism product Nigeria had sold to the world, adding that it also stood the test of time.

    He said Carnival Calabar had encouraged institutional memory, ensured bye-in from the people and separating the spiritual from the carnival.

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    All Nigerian Festival Searches For ‘Next Face Of Naija’

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    In an exciting quest for the per­fect representative of Nigeria’s rich culture and heritage, a group, the All Nigerian Festival, has launched the ‘Face of Naija’ contest.

    This competition aims to dis­cover a smart, attractive young woman from anywhere in Nige­ria to serve as the festival’s am­bassador for one year.

    The All Nigerian Festival, a three-day national event celebrat­ing Nigeria’s diverse traditions and history, is gearing up for its annual celebration.

    The festival brings together people from across the country to showcase their unique arts, traditions, and history, making it a significant event on Nigeria’s cultural calendar.

    In a statement made available to newsmen in Lagos at the week­end, the organisers revealed that the lucky winner of the Face of Naija contest will not only receive a cash prize of N3 million, but will also have the opportunity to headline the All Nigerian Fash­ion Week during the festival in Delta State in August.

    This prestigious role comes with the responsibility of pro­moting Nigeria’s tourism, arts, and cultural values through fashion, beauty, and entertain­ment.

    The Face of Naija contest is to showcase Nigeria’s vibrant cul­ture to the world and attract more visitors, tourists, and investment opportunities to the country. Rep­resentatives from the

    All Nigerian Festivals ex­pressed their excitement about welcoming a new face of Naija who can truly embody the spirit of Nigeria and share it with the world.

    Nominations for the contest are open to young Nigerian wom­en aged 18-25, who are between size 6-12 and at least 5’7″ tall.

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    Igbo celebrate cultural fest, coronate Eze Ohazurume Ibeju Lekki

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    It was a blend of art, culture and tourism at a cultural fest spearheaded by Ohanaeze Ndigbo Lagos State to celebrate the coronation of the title of Eze Ohazurume Ndigbo of Ibeju Lekki to Eze and Ugoeze Peter Asonye. The event took place at Union Bank Club, Bode Thomas Road, Surulere, Lagos.

    In the art we had the Ohafia Dancers, display of masquerades and highlife music led by a famous highlife musician, Ayaka Ozubulu.

    In the tourism sector were the presence of Chief Charles Odunukwe of Colonades Hotel, Ikoyi, Lagos, and Chief Chidi Anyaegbu of Chisco Transport while from the cultural angle were over 17 custodians of culture and tradition and peace building including His Royal Majesty (HRM) Eze (Dr) Oliver Ohanweh, Obi of GburuGburu of Igboland and paramount ruler of Isiama, in Isiala Mbano Imo State, who broke the Kolanut (Iwa Oji) in prayer for peace and unity in Nigeria, and the prosperity of all Igbos in Nigeria and diaspora.

    Eze Ohanweh noted that ‘Iwa Oji’ (breaking of kolanut) was highly symbolic in Igbo culture, adding that it was what the Igbo used to welcome their visitors: “When you go to Israel you chew bread because it is their culture. If Jesus Christ was born, killed and resurrected from Igboland, Oji would have been the Holy Communion.

    “When we (traditional rulers) hold oji, we speak to our ancestors, and talk to God Almighty. So oji is a symbol of peace and culture and anyone that presents orji to a visitor gives him life and in turn is blessed.”

    The monarch, who is the chairman of Supreme Council of Traditional Rulers in Nigeria, said that he honoured the momentous occasion to witness the elevation of his subject who is doing well in his field: “Eze Peter Asonye is a beloved son who is after the well being of the poor in my community. During COVID-19 pandemic, he rescued many people of my community from the grip of the effects of the lockdown.

    “I urge him to do more, because to whom much is given, much is expected. He should join hands with other well meaning Igbos to unite Ndigbo in Lagos. As the spiritual Oracle of Okigwe, when I see anyone doing what we ask for, I must support him,” he charged.

    He tasked Nigerian leaders on the need to promote unity, progress, capacity building, empowerment, and employment of our youth while calling on all Igbo in Lagos State to obey laws and regulations of their host community and to be civil in whatever they do.

    “Let us cooperate with the government and people of Lagos State so that we will be recognised and rewarded prosperously in whatever we are doing. Let the Igbo respect Yoruba and the Yoruba respect the Igbo so we can build harmonious relationships with one another,” he canvassed.

    Representing Lagos State Council of Arewa Chiefs, South West, Amb. (Dr) Dahiru Aliyu, who spoke on the imperative of peace and culture in resolving conflicts among different ethnic regions in Nigeria, noted that the culture of the Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa are almost the same except for the different languages.

    Aliyu said, “Culture is very important in the life of a nation. The event has exposed me to a lot of things about Igbo culture, and I’m taking home to my northern brothers and sisters the importance of peaceful coexistence among the different tribes in Nigeria. it is important we live with one another in peace and to understand each other’s culture and religion so that we can have permanent peace in the country.”

    The coordinator of the event and President Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Lagos State, High Chief Solomon Aguene, described the event as undiluted, saying that Igbo culture had remained undiluted anywhere in the world. “We are the only tribe that has Eze as a crown. In other words ‘Ezendigbo,’ in transit. So, Eze Peter Asonye is Ezendigbo Ibeju Lekki/Dongote Refinery. We have to understand that culture and tradition are development tools such that if a people don’t practice their culture, there is nothing to bequeath to their children.

    “Some of us who had our children in Lagos know that most of them can’t speak Igbo language. But with events like this, they will be motivated to learn and speak Igbo language and acculturated to know where they come from. Every tribe in Nigeria and world over has their own culture and tradition, so we are celebrating Igbo culture and tradition,” Aguene said.

    He revealed that it was only Ndigbo that had the diadem Eze prefixed with their name and it had remained the tradition of the people in identifying their kings.

    He noted that “there is only one Ancient kingdom in Ekeoba, Umuahia, Abia State where we have Oba of Ekeoba His Royal Majesty (HRM) Eze Iheanyichukwu Nwokenna who graced the occasion as a special guest.”

    The spokesperson of the United Nations International Association of World Peace Advocates Amb. (Dr) Emmanuel Nkweke, said that the association was elated that the crown was coming to one of its own who has contributed immensely to the growth of the association and development of peace in Lagos State and Nigeria at large.

    He revealed that Eze Asonye was the fifth in the association’s list to receive the Mayor of Peace award. He added that he was not just an eminent peace ambassador but a bit more than that because of his performance in uniting indigenes and non-indigenes in Lagos State:

    “He has preached peace across the shores of Nigeria. There are traceable records of his achievements in peace building among all ethnic groups of Lagos State, even though he is from the South East geopolitics of Nigeria as evidenced by different tribes that graced the occasion.

    “He is equally a good promoter of culture, and always standing in the gaps as a man of many parts and lover of his people. The cultural atmosphere at the event is a true reflection of his personality as a peace maker and philanthropist who has touched the lives of many, including widows, orphanages and the less privileged in society,” Nkweke said.

    The newly crowned Eze Asonye thanked the ezes and special guests who graced the occasion, assuring them that,c”from henceforth, Lagos State will experience a breath of fresh air. He noted: “I’m a Mayor of Peace from the United Nations, I am a peacemaker. I have been doing this empty handed but now I have been given a Staff of Office, what do you expect from me? More work!.”

    The event witnessed the empowerment of 25 widows through the charity organisation of Eze Asonye. “I feel these widows need help. I cannot be eating good food in my house, while some people are suffering. As the honcho of a charity organisation my mission is to empower those that need help,” he said.

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