By Abiodun Lawal
The Federal Government on Thursday reiterated its support for the continuous promotion of the African Drums Festival in order to take it to a higher level.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, gave the assurance at the opening of the 4th edition of the festival in Abeokuta.
The festival had as its theme: ”Drumming the Future.”
The minister, represented by Mr Augustus Ajibola, the Director, Entertainment and Creative Services in the ministry, said that the drum festival was important in its objective of turning the creative industry into a thriving industry.
“This administration has conceived what we called a calendar of festivals , this calendar categorises festivals into local, regional and international status.
” Some festivals like Osun Osogbo and Arugungun are well known.
“The drum festival is growing enough to take over from these two festivals if care is not taken .
“Drums and the act of drumming have always helped the society, drums play a prominent role among musical instruments, drums conote different things for different people in our society.
“Drum is a family occupation , a source of income to others, it is simply entertainment.
“Drum plays a prominent role in the palace such as waking the king and for communication between the king and the community .
“Drummers are human libraries, philosophers , they are more than entertainers to the public on general matters , they are part of the warfare but they are not warriors, they are part of politics but they are not politicians ,” he said.
Mohammed commended the Ogun government for the programme and addition made to the festival.
He said the annual drum festival was important , saying that the festival had continued to attain international standard .
Nobel Laurete, Prof. Wole Soyinka, in his remarks, commended the former military administrators of the state in attendance.
Soyinka opined that the retired military officers must have missed the military music and had therefore sought solace in traditional music.
Soyinka, who is the Consultant to the Ogun government on the Drum Festival, described the rythym of the traditional drums as veritable for converting the retired military personnel in politics into true civilians.
” I know it has been difficult to take out military traits from the retired military officers who have gone into politics.
“They are all over our political institutions at the local, state and federal levels, including the National Assembly.
“We need to cause them to pass through the test of dancing to the rythym of our traditional drums and cause them to be totally immersed in our cultural values so as to truly wean them away from the military traits,” he said.
The Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, who spoke on behalf of other traditional rulers, described the festival as an event that would continue to be relevant in the daily activities of Africans.
He explained that the drum served as a veritable instruments of inspiration and motivation particularly in Yoruba culture.
He also noted that the drum festival had continued to grow better with each edition.
The festival, which Is expected to come to an end on Saturday, would feature an international conference and workshop on drums to be coordinated by Soyinka.
In his remarks, Gov. Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun explained that 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 noted that the festival had continued to engender cultural reawakening in Africa on shared values and fraternal solidarity within the African region.
A total of 23 African countries, 18 states and 71 independent troupes are participating in this year’s festival.