By Damiete Braide



•Jahman Anikulapo, Marilyn Nancy, DG CBAAC, Mrs Aisha Adams Augie; and Prof Duro Oni during the panel discussion


In the bustling streets of Lagos, a remarkable event unfolded, weaving together threads of history and contemporary creativity last Sunday at the Old Printing Press, Lagos Island. 

At the heart of it all was The Fabric of Courage, a groundbreaking multidisciplinary arts exhibition that paid homage to the Festival of Arts and Culture, commonly known as FESTAC ‘77, and celebrated the pivotal role of the Centre for Black and African Art and Civilisation (CBAAC) in preserving and promoting Black and African heritage.

Central to CBAAC’s mission is its role as the custodian of FESTAC ‘77’s treasures. Within its walls lie artifacts, archival materials, and cultural relics that capture the essence of the historic festival. From rare cultural items to photographs and documents, CBAAC’s holdings offer a window into the vibrant tapestry of Black and African culture showcased at FESTAC ‘77.

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The Fabric of Courage exhibition, curated by Salon Africana, in collaboration with CBAAC, African Artists Foundation, Centre for Art Research and Alliances, Chimurenga Magazine, The Africa Centre and The African Agency  served as a poignant tribute to FESTAC ‘77’s enduring legacy and the exhibition brought together a diverse array of artistic voices, both past and present.

The exhibition’s opening night was a celebration of culture and community. Esteemed guests, including artists, writers, musicians, and government representatives, gathered to honour the cultural heritage showcased at FESTAC ‘77 and reaffirm their commitment to preserving and promoting Black and African art and culture.

Curated by Grammy-nominated vocalist, Somi Kakoma, the evening’s programme was a sensory feast. From stirring poetry readings to electrifying musical performances, each moment resonated with the spirit of FESTAC ‘77 and the enduring legacy of Black cultural labour. Somi’s exploration of FESTAC ‘77’s archive underscored the exhibition’s mission to honor and celebrate Black cultural heritage.X

For Marilyn Nance, whose iconic photographs captured the essence of FESTAC ‘77, the exhibition marked a poignant homecoming. Her evocative images, immortalised in the acclaimed book, Last Day in Lagos, offered a glimpse into the vibrancy and diversity of the festival. Likewise, Tam Fiofori’s archival selections provided a window into the cultural tapestry showcased at FESTAC ‘77, preserving its legacy for future generations.

The panel discussion was moderated by arts journalist, Jahman Anikulapo, which brought together luminaries, such as Marilyn Nance, Prof Duro Oni and Director General for CBAAC, Mrs Aisha Adams Augie to reflect on the gains of FESTAC ‘77 and chart a path forward for preserving its legacy. Their insights underscored the importance of ongoing collaboration and investment in cultural preservation efforts.

The pictorial exhibition centered on FESTAC”77 Remembrance and the place of Black and African peoples in the aftermath of FESTAC. The event was also designed to celebrate the work of the veteran ace photographer Merilyn Nance, who was part of the US contingents to FESTAC’77 in Nigeria. This was Merilyn Nance’s first visit to Nigeria after FESTAC 77. 

The event attracted notable personalities such as Marilyn Nance, the official photographer of FESTAC ‘77, Tam Fiofori, also known as uncle Tam an iconic Nigerian documentary photographer, film maker, writer and  counterpart photographer who covered the opening ceremony of FESTAC 77, Prof. Duro Oni, a former Director/CEO of CBAAC, who also happened to be a technical director during  the historical event; Mrs. Aisha Adamu Augie, the Director General of CBAAC; and the convener of the event, SOMI Kakoma.

The Director General of CBAAC, in her remarks, applauded Management and Staff of the Centre,  especially the past DGs for their efforts in ensuring that the Centre is what it is today – a Pan African agency for Cultural Advocacy. She affirmed a great future for the Centre and stated that one of her goals was to take CBAAC to the world and tell the younger generation there was a time Nigeria united the fifty-nine (59) Black and African countries and Communities.

The DG encouraged the general audience on the need to make use of social media platforms to communicate our stories and history, while looking forward to achieving a  FESTAC 77 @ 50 celebration in  2027. The well attended exhibition treated its guests to astonishing Jazz Muzik by SOMI.