CBAAC honours Awolowo, Tutu, Balewa others

SEGUN KASALI reports the recent inauguration of the Centre for Black African Arts and Civilization Hall of Fame in Abuja where the avatar, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, and other eminences are showcased.

THE sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo and other political, entertainment, literary and human rights icons who have made invaluable contributions to the Nigerian project were recently inducted into the Centre for Black African Arts and Civilization (CBAAC) Black and African Hall of Fame in Abuja,

Others inducted into different sections of the hall of fame include Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Professor Chinua Achebe, Chief Funmilayo Ransome Kuti, Kenule Saro-Wiwa, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Moshood Abiola and King Sunny Ade,

The list also included the late Chief Abdul-Ganiyu Fawehinmi, Malcolm X, the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, Chair, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, and others.

Established by Decree 69 of 1979 following the successful hosting of the 2nd World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture (FESTAC’ 77), CBAAC keeps all the collections used during the landmark event.

Some Nigerian artists who performed during FESTAC 77 were also unveiled in recognition of their contributions. They include the late Chief Hubert Adedeji Ogunde, Chief Ebenezer Obey Fabiyi, Professor Victor Uwaifo, Dr.Adamu Dan Maraya, Victor Abimbola Olaiya, Haruna Ishola Bello, Yusuf Olatunji, Sunny Okosun and Orlando Owoh.

Foreign artists that performed during FESTAC 77 also made it into the Hall of Fame. They include Mighty Sparrow, Randolph Welson, Archie Shepp, Hugh Masekela and Miriam Makeba.

Speaking at the event, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, said tourism has tremendous potentialities. She expressed surprise at the quality and quantity of historical items unveiled and commended the Director-General, CBAAC, Mrs Olubunmi Amao.

Ahmed asked the body’s supervising Ministry, the Ministry of Information and the management of CBAAC to expand the collection. She said, “If we can continue to manage the economy better, we hope to be able to open up tourism, and this is the kind tourists would love to visit. It is excellent potential in the arts and culture sector of our economy. It is a fantastic experience for me. I am surprised at the quality and number of historical items here, from heads of states to famous black leaders and musicians. They depict the history of FESTAC 77.

“We should encourage this, and we should find a place where we can expand this so that we can get our students to come and learn our history- history of black Africa from this Centre.”

In his remarks, Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said the Hall of Fame would preserve the country’s arts and culture from going into extinction.

Mohammed, whom the Permanent Secretary of his ministry, Dr Ifeoma Anyanwu, represented, said his vision is for another edition of FESTAC to happen soonest.

“What has been done here will preserve arts and culture from going into extinction; history will be there for the younger generation to see how Nigeria and Africa evolved.  They would see the great heroes of Africa, Nigeria in their country.  My vision is to see another FESTAC 77. I also look forward to the recreation of another FESTAC in years to come,” Mohammed said.

He also commended the CBAAC DG for the initiative. “I am happy we have someone like the DG at the helm of affairs. In terms of sustainability, I believe that this is very sustainable with her vision, and I believe that better things are yet to come.”

Former Governor of Imo state, Senator Rochas Okorocha, also hailed the initiative and highlighted its benefits.  He said, “This is a display of appreciation for our culture and tradition and men and women who have made history. This provides an inspiring arena for the younger generation. This is how role models are made. So, it is a must-visit for school children, university undergraduates and everybody.

“When history of this nature is kept alive, it inspires the future generations. Government must support CBAAC because the entire African black world is headquartered in Nigeria, and we should showcase that. If CBAAC is well developed, it will bring huge resources for tourism.”

Chair, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Abike-Dabiri, described the Hall of Fame as a celebration of Nigerians as a people and affirmed that Nigeria is the centre of the African continent.

“It is the centre of attraction; any visitor coming to Nigeria should visit. Anytime we have visitors from the diaspora, we will bring them to this historical place. There is nowhere in Nigeria where you have this array of history makers, and I am proud to say I am one of them.  It is about telling the world that Nigeria is the centre of the African continent. As long as Nigeria continues, we should set the pace. And that is what CBAAC has been able to do here.”

Highlighting the relevance of FESTAC, the CBAAC DG, Mrs Amao, said that its knowledge will enrich students with the country’s historical antecedents.

“It would aid the students’ proper understanding of the country’s historical antecedents. The knowledge of FESTAC 77 is key as it enables the students to know who was around at the time and those who performed,” she explained.

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