By Magnus Eze
Green cabs and luxurious commuter buses popularly called ‘El-Rufai’ in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have started wearing a new look with promotional branding announcing the forthcoming African Arts and Crafts Expo (AFAC) 2017 billed for Abuja later this month.
The event, described by organisers as the largest of its kind in the continent, is being organised by the National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), to showcase the best of African arts and craft. It is expected to attract participation from at least 30 African countries.
Director-general of NCAC, Otunba Segun Runsewe, who announced this to newsmen in Abuja, said his administration was determined to exploit the abundant opportunities in the arts and culture sector that could be harnessed and channeled towards reinventing Nigeria’s economy.
He explained that the theme of this year’s AFAC, “Our Culture: The Untapped Treasure”, was carefully selected to draw attention to the vast opportunities in the sector, and mobilise Nigerians to take advantage of the opportunities for personal empowerment and the economic development of Nigeria.
Already, massive upgrade has reached advanced stage at the Arts and Crafts Village, Abuja, where the 10th edition of the expo would hold from August 27 to September 17, 2017.
“We are leaving no stone unturned in making this year’s exposition a unique one, featuring unprecedented and memorable events, and much richer both in packaging and in delivery,” Runsewe said.
He noted that Nigeria’s leadership role in the continent was such that this year’s edition must be made to be truly the best among its peers in Africa.
Contingents from the 36 states and the FCT as well as other African countries will exhibit in the following areas: apparels and weaving; brass and metal design, captivating music and dance, coral and jewelry design, classic ceramics and decorative pottery, cultural souvenirs, raffia and wood designs and leatherwork, among others.
New look arts and craft village
In the course of upgrading the arena, some structures have been pulled down while more security has been introduced.
Before the advent of the Runsewe administration at NCAC, the Arts and Crafts Village had almost become a den of criminals with shanties springing up indiscriminately. In fact, there was an incident where someone kidnapped in Lagos was allegedly kept at the amphitheatre of the arts village for about two weeks before security details stormed the place.
The place was also said to have been a hideout for criminals and stolen vehicles. But Runsewe said all that was in the past. According to him, “We have now graded and tarred the main bowl of the exhibition arena, measuring about 1.5 hectares. We plan to also do landscaping and beautification.
“This year, we are moving away from the tradition of cut and nail plank pavilion to specialised and collapsible ones as is done in the civilised world. We have dislodged miscreants from the village and have taken full ownership and control of it. We now have a police post win the premises of the village.”
for 24-hour security cover. For the first time, we have illuminated the entire village with flood lights. We are also constructing and renovating environment-friendly public utilities to make the arena a conducive social environment for our exhibitors, delegates and clients.”
As part of the programmes aimed at making the expo a worthwhile experience, Daily Sun learnt that the National Association of Nigerian Chefs had been mobilised to mount a stand and teach Nigerians and non-Nigerians alike, the rudiments of Nigerian cuisines such as amala, tuwo, banga and edikangikon soup, among others.
Relatedly, experts would also be available to teach interested participants the simple way of communicating in Nigerian major indigenous languages like Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba among others. The expectation is that prospective beneficiaries of the training would be able to greet, exchange pleasantries, buy and sell in Nigerian languages outside their mother tongue.
Organisers of the event also see it as a critical tool for fostering cultural diplomacy and engendering international friendship and goodwill.
To this end, NCAC would host a pre-event dinner for cultural attaches of embassies in the country with a view to strengthening the cultural affinity between Nigeria and other countries of the world.
Meanwhile, the DG last week announced the endorsement of ‘Abahi’ hair style typically adorned by the Benue people of North-central Nigeria, as the official hair style for the expo.
Receiving the Fashion Designers Association of Nigeria (FADAN) led by Fatima Sule at the NCAC headquarters, Runsewe said all was set for the unveiling of the AFAC official hair style and dress code, affirming that the beautifully styled hairdo will make a very strong cultural statement during expo and stimulate the creativity of Nigerians.