The 2019 Annang Festival of Arts and Culture (AFAC), to preserve and promote Anaañ history, language, heritage and crafts will hold from December 20 to 22 at Ikot Ekpene Township Stadium and Ikot Ekpene Plaza, Akwa Ibom State.
With ‘Harnessing Anaañ Cultural Assets for Economic Gains’ as its theme, the third edition of the festival is being organised by Nto Annang Foundation (NAF) in partnership with other Anaañ organisations.
According to the organisers, the festival endorsed by the National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) and Akwa Ibom State Ministry of Culture and Tourism, will be one of the biggest 2019 fiestas in Annang land.
“It promises to be a colourful and exciting showpiece of the cultural wealth of the Annang people, with exhibitions spanning both the intangible and tangible heritage. The festival will feature culinary displays, arts and craft as well as live performances by notable Nigerian musicians”, said the National President of NAF, Abom Ephraim Okon.
The President added that apart from showcasing the people’s culture, the three-day event is also aimed at promoting travel in the state.
“The event shall model strategy for effective travel trade business, cultural synergy and enduring unity through culture and tourism as a special purpose vehicle. This model we intend to replicate for global peace efforts and to mark our cultural product at the international stage,’’ said Okon.
He stressed that the festival, which debuted in 2016, has helped in developing tourism in Akwa Ibom and has also assisted in generating tourist traffic to the state and Ikot Ekpene. Fifteen thousand visitors are expected this year.
Okon further disclosed that the festival’s content had been expanded. There would be cultural display by over 5, 000 revellers; 800 spectacular masquerades display; Annang warriors trek, drum ensemble of over 5, 000 extinct African drums; an art exhibition and colloquium/cocktail party for VIP and foreign envoys.
Others are a Night of Legends; Ujai Annang beauty pageant, Annang language essay competition, Annang hall of fame induction ceremonies; inauguration of children royal troupe; and festival theme song/Annang ballad.
Also speaking on the festival, Executive Director, Akwa Tourism Development Company Ltd (ATDC), Ubong Ekpe, said it was informed by the need to promote Annang culture. He added that it would also expose Nigerians to the city of raffia and its rich heritage.
He said, “Annangland is host to the 500-year-old Usaka virgin forest, custodian of 400 years old Iso Ekpo Nkwubia mask, the mythical blue river of Ukanafun, the Ibibid Abak traditional stool of Annangland and the oldest raffia dunes in Africa.”