By Olawale Jokotoye
Abeokuta (NAN) The African Drums Festival commenced in Abeokuta on Thursday with more than 20 cultural troupes from about 13 countries from the continent in attendance.
The festival, an expanded form of the maiden edition of the Nigerian Drums Festival held in Abeokuta in 2016, also drew participants from Haiti and observers from Dallas in the United States.
The Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, in his remarks described the festival as “a development worthy of emulation by other states.’’
He noted that such festival would further invigorate the strides of the government in tourism investment and development.
“The Muhammadu Buhari’s is determined to pursue with relentless vigour the diversification of our present mono reliance on an oil economy to massive investment in non-oil sectors like agriculture, solid minerals and tourism.,” he said.
Mohammed, who was represented by the Artistic Director of the National Troupe of Nigeria, Mr Tar Ukor, noted that such festivals would promote pan-African unity and increased inter – African economic trade as well as enhanced local value chain benefits.
“This festival will also promote inter-African leisure travel and the renaissance of our African cultural milestones in contributing toward civilisation.
“It will engender cultural reawakening in Africa on shared values and fraternal solidarity within the region,’’ he said.
Gov. Ibikunle Amosun said the festival was a platform to showcase the rich cultural heritage of the people of Ogun and to also stamp Nigeria on the world map.
He gave an assurance that the state would continue to explore different aspects of the Nigerian culture with a view to promoting and preserving them.
The Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, urged states to focus on other aspects of the Nigerian culture with a view to propagating them.
The Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, noted that drums occupy an important place in Yoruba culture.
“Drums are used to wake Yoruba monarchs early in the morning reminding them of their oaths to adjudicate among their subjects without fear or favour.
“Drums are important tools that accompany monarchs and warriors to the warfront and act as source from which they draw encouragement and courage as well as indicate to them when to withdraw or advance into battle.
“Drums are also used to announce the deaths of some important personalities in Yoruba land,” he said.
Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, said rhythms from drums “are enchanting.’’
He described as erroneous the belief that culture involves some demonic and satanic practices.
Soyinka, who commended the Ogun State Government for the initiative, noted that many great things in Nigeria began from Ogun State.