Some state delegates at the National Festival of Arts and Culture (NAFEST), which opened on Monday in Benin City, have unveiled some of the cultural assets to be showcased during the week long event.
In separate interviews with the Nigeria News Agency at the University of BeninSports Complex, venue of the opening ceremony, the delegates said NAFEST had fulfilled its main aim of fostering peace and unity amongst Nigerians.
Mrs Roseline Mere, Head of Administration, Imo State Council for Arts and Culture, said the state would be showcasing their local cuisines – ” Ofe-Owerri” and “Ofe-Nsala”.
She said there was need for people to realise the nutritional value of local cuisines, urging Nigerians to minimise the consumption of processed foods which were dangerous to human health.
“Am excited to be here for this all-important festival in Nigeria, we are showcasing our art works depicting royalty.
“We are also teaching people how to make our local palm wine known as “Mmamya-ngwo,” likewise our Imo traditional cake made from bread fruit which can last for three to four months without preservatives.
“We need to realise that our local cuisines made from natural foods are better for us than the processed ones,” she said.
Also, Mr Wale Ojo-Lanre, Director General, Ekiti State Council for Arts and Culture, said that the state would be showcasing the peculiarities of the state royalty.
He said the state was known for its local cuisine – pounded yam – and the state delegates would be teaching other states how to prepare the cuisines peculiar to the state.
He commended the Director General, National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC) for upholding the ancient festival and improving on it by introducing other cultural programmes.
“This is the best event any country can engage in because at the end of the event, this would have improved the economy of the state.
“Before the end of the festival, we all would have been better informed of other states’ culture and history,” he said.
Similarly, Mr Bisi Oyewale, Director, KwaraState Council for Arts and Culture, said that the state would be participating in essay writing, drama competition and exhibition of artefacts peculiar to the state.
He said the state local cuisine would also be on exhibition while the audience would be educated on the essence of embracing nation’s rich culture.
He urged the Federal Government to create special fund for each state specifically for the festival to enable states plan properly and ensure full participation of all states.
Mrs Monica Shanyo, Deputy Director, BenueState Council for Arts and Culture, said the state was participating to get familiarised with other cultures.
She said this would further foster harmony and peace among the citizenry.
“This is a good platform which had encouraged inter-ethnic marriages among people of different tribes, it has strengthened relationships,” she said.
Mr Emmanuel Udoma, Secretary, DeltaState Council for Arts and Culture, said that NAFEST had fulfilled the main aim of its establishment, urging federal government to continue to improve on it.
He commended government for involving the youths in different cultural competitions which would enable them propagate nation’s culture.
He urged the youths to imbibe nation’s culture of respect, hospitality, and uphold the spirit of been one’s brother’s keeper.
The Nigeria News Agency reports that 26 states, including the Federal Capital Territory, had arrived for the cultural festival.
Some of the states present were: Bauchi, Lagos, Delta, Nasarawa, Benue, Bayelsa, Borno, Ebonyi, Ekiti, Enugu, Imo, Gombe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kwara, Oyo, Rivers, Taraba, Edo, FCT.
Edited by Wale Ojetimi