By Eva Irewole
The 35th edition of the National Festival of Arts & Culture (NAFEST) ended on Sunday Nivember 13, 2022 with Lagos, the host state, emerging as the Overall Best State.
Dubbed EkoNafest2022, the colourful ceremony held at the Mobolaji Johnson Pavilion, formerly known as Onikan Stadium, where an elevated Commissioner for Tourism, Arts & Culture innthe state, Mrs Uzamat Akinbile-Yusuf picking the gong on behalf of the state.
Rivers State shared the overall Second Position with Bayelsa State, in addition to winning trophies in Best Costume Overall; first position for children essay competition and first position in children drama.
The state’s Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Hon. Tonye Briggs-Oniyide, led the Team Rivers.
Ekiti State took the third position; Kano State emerged fourth, while Ogun State got the fifth overall position.
NAFEST is a seven-day national event in which states of the federation, including the FCT, participate to display their rich artistic and cultural heritage through a variety of competitions, including ayo, archery, traditional cuisine, costumes, essay writing, and many others.
Earlier at the opening ceremony of the festival on Wednesday November 9, the Lagos State Governor, Babajide SanwoOlu, welcomed an array of elegantly dressed troupes from 29 states of the federation who kept the guests’ attention hooked to flamboyantly rehearsed pageantry, flaunting the nation’s rich cultural heritage in the full glare of local and international audience.
It was the fourth time Lagos State would host NAFEST, a cultural fiesta initiated in 1970 to foster national integration, strengthen understanding and unity among diverse ethnic groups and promote peaceful co-existence.
In declaring open the fiesta, SanwoOlu charged the participants and audience to exhibit “true spirit of Lagos”, which he explained to be the State’s “accommodating nature” towards visitors.
Sanwo-Olu said Lagos Government accepted the event’s hosting right in demonstration of its love for cultural advancement and promotion of togetherness.
As melting pot of culture and hub of commerce, the Governor said Lagos would continue to export the nation’s rich heritage and entertainment to the global market, thereby attracting foreign investment into the local creative and entertainment sector.
He said: “Lagos State Government is proud to be hosting NAFEST for the fourth time, having hosted the first edition in 1970. The foundational objectives of the festival is in line with our administration’s goals for the promotion of entertainment and tourism, which are a key pillar of the T.H.E.M.E.S Agenda. We are deliberate about promoting every aspect of tourism, arts and culture, which is why we make it a practice to support, partner and collaborate in activities that would further strengthen our cultural heritage and promote our unity in diversity.”