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Culture, heritage on spotlight at Awori Day Cultural Festival 2022

Culture, heritage on spotlight at Awori Day Cultural Festival 2022

 

If you were at the Police College, Ikeja ground on December 11, 2022, you would appreciate the Aworis for preserving their cultural heritage.

That day, sons and daughters of Awori, a tribe of the Yoruba people, who speak a distinct dialect of the Yoruba language, gathered amid colour to showcase their culture.

It was a one-day cultural festival that featured blockbuster events with all the trappings of a rich and encompassing cultural orchestra of some sorts that held the people not only entertained but spellbound all through the day.

As expected in similar cultural fiestas in the South West of Nigeria, there were rich and colourful displays of all sorts by different Awori groups.

At the event, the procession by the groups seemed unending as they took their turns to take pride in their culture with Gelede, Egungun, Aje, Woro, Efe, Ewi displaying with pride.

Apart from the groups, the sons and daughters stormed the venue in specially curated traditional regalia, which they adorned with special carriage.

Also, the Aworis showcased their hospitality beyond the parade to feeding the crowd with their special local delicacies, which for many, was one of the highlights of the festival.

Speaking on the importance of the festival, Muhammed Ajibola Olagbaye national president, Awori Welfare Association of Nigeria (AWAN), noted that Awori Day Cultural Festival 2022 was a dream come through as they have longed for such a day. He said it was a fulfilling and glorious day to finally gather to witness the making of history because it marked a new beginning in the life of the people of Awori and the unborn generation.

“Awori Day Cultural Festival represents our discovery; a new beginning; a paradigm shift in emotional, psychological, social and moral restitution going forward. In this, our being would further manifest for a greater tomorrow in stronger affinity,’’ Olagbaye said.

He expressed joy that the festival, which has taken over 20 years in the works, finally held.

The efforts of the organizers, especially at meeting and soliciting the support of Lagos State government were not in vain as Babajide Sanwo-Olu, governor of Lagos State, graced the first ever Awori Day Cultural Festival.

The presence of the governor was a promise kept, as he went the extra mile to mobilise the state apparatuses towards the success of the event.

Dapo Abiodun, governor of Ogun State, also lend support to the festival. The governor was represented by Naimot Salako-Oyedele, deputy governor.

Moreover, Awori Day Cultural Festival is of the tourism offerings of Awori 2030 Tourism Destination Development Plan, which seeks the nurturing, sustainability and global awareness of Awori tourism products. Prince Femi Fadina, who is the chairman of Awori Tourism, had unveiled a 10-year Awori Strategic Tourism Development Master Plan, Vision 2030, to a cross section of stakeholders in 2020, in bid to develop Awori land into an emerging tourist destination.

Hence, the birthing of the Awori Day Cultural Festival on December 11, 2022, one of the Awori tourism products designed to unlock the economic viability of Awori tourism and its unifying value for all Awori sons and daughters globally.

Fadina in his remarks paid tribute to the founding fathers of Awori in all parts of Awori land in Lagos and Ogun states for their efforts and doggedness towards the sustenance of Awori Nation and ensuring the voices of the people are not suppressed but heard.

The Awori Tourism chairman also emphasised the imperative of promoting domestic tourism, noting that the Awori Day Cultural Festival, is a product to be deployed towards promoting domestic tourism. He also added that tourism and development of the local economy are at the core of the festival. To ensure a successful and enduring tourism economy, he called for effective collaboration with credible destination consultants and other stakeholders in the tourism value chain as well as with the public sector to ensure the effective delivery of the huge promise and prospects of tourism.

While speaking on the challenges, he stated that the journey was challenging but worth it in the end, this is as he paid tribute to all those who supported the event especially the Lagos State government and Sanwu-Olu, whom he noted is also an Awori. He stated that; “We must appreciate our financial sponsors from the private and public sectors. Our thanks is also due to notable individuals and stakeholders, most especially the Lagos State government for believing in the festival which really showcased our rich culture, heritage and traditions through poetry, dance and music.

“No doubt, we are even more motivated in our service to humanity in general and uplifting Aworis in particular around the globe.’’ While congratulating all Aworis in Lagos, Ogun and Oyo states respectively, he enjoined them to continue to forge ahead, and united in order to build a strong and progressive Awori Nation, noting that the colourful event was not conceived this year, but 20 years ago.

Prince Kitan Fadina, chairman of Kitigbe online, acknowledged both Lagos and Ogun state governments for making the festival a success. He also recognised what he called the creative wizardry of Fadina, who conceived the idea of the festival in collaboration with the Awori Welfare Association of Nigeria, to deliver a sound tourism product.

Kitan Fadina is the first son of Fadina. Both Sanwo-Olu and Abiodun in their respective remarks commended the organisers of the event for their initiative, and the traditional rulers, and community leaders for upholding their cultural heritage in their domains.

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They also pledged their continued support towards entrenching the festival as a yearly event. The feasting and celebration climaxed with the presentation of awards of honour and recognition to some of the sons and daughters of Awor Nation for their contributions and commitment to the progress of the people and their various communities.

However, credit goes to many supporters of the festival, especially Fadina, whose vision has birthed the festival, with the support of the people, particularly the traditional rulers of the various Awori communities. Fadina, a prince of Awori, is a thoroughbred tourism expert.