This call was made on Thursday by the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi; the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi; the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo; the Olu of Ilaro and paramount ruler of Yewaland, Oba Kehinde Olugbenle; Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka; and the Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson, in their respective goodwill messages at the opening ceremony of the 2017 edition of the African Drums Festival at the June 12 Cultural Centre, Abeokuta, Ogun State.
According to the royal fathers, literary icon and the governor, the country has a rich cultural heritage, which has continued to “amaze” the Western world.
The Alaafin said drums and drummers had been an integral part of the palaces and communities in Yorubaland.
The Alake said the era of “cheap” oil money was gone and that the next goldmine for the country was tourism.
Oba Olugbenle said it was unfortunate that in many homes, Nigerian languages were going into extinction, adding that such festival would serve as a wake-up call to preserve African culture and tradition.
Soyinka said there was no better time than now for Nigeria to develop tourism as a business capable of earning foreign exchange.
Dickson urged other state governors to take their culture and package them for the world to see.
The Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Alhaji Lai Muhammed, also described the festival as the assemblage of Africa’s rich cultural heritage.
The minister was represented by the Artistic Director of the National Troupe, Tar Uko.
He said he was optimistic that the festival would promote African unity and trade and ultimately boost tourism development in Buhari’s administration’s drive for economic diversification.
While declaring the event open, Amosun highlighted the importance of drums in the Nigerian and African settings, adding that the state government had written to the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism to include in its calendar the African Drums Festival as an annual event which holds between April 20 and 22.